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How to Mise en Place & Why It Will Change Your Cooking

Mise en place is a French culinary term that means “setting in place.” 

While you might be unfamiliar with the term, or only associate it with restaurant chefs, it’s actually the key for cooking meals successfully. You heard me!

This photo shows a woman preparing and cutting vegetables before starting to cook a meal.

So what really is mise en place?

It’s the first step in the cooking process, when you get all your ingredients lined up, portioned out, sliced and diced, and ready to go.

Mise en place happens before you even turn on the heat!

A few basic tools to get you started

Although you can use any tools you have on hand, here are a few that I’ve found most helpful for mise-en-place:

  • A variety of bowls in different sizes 
  • A few super small bowls for things like spices and oils (called pinch bowls)
  • Measuring cups (1/4 cup, 1/3 cup, 1/2 cup, 1 cup)
  • Liquid measuring cups (I find a big cup that holds 4 cups of liquid the most useful) 
  • Measuring spoons (1/8 teaspoon, 1/4 teaspoon, 1/2 teaspoon, 1 teaspoon, 1 tablespoon)

Just as much as mise en place is a physical preparation, it’s more than that! It’s also a mental process.

It’s a mindset shift! And it drastically reduces the stress many people associate with cooking at home and preparing meals.

“Mise en place is a mindset. It’s a way of thinking about the process of cooking so that you’re prepared to meet the everyday challenges you face in the kitchen.”

CHEF KEN RUBIN

A Few Reasons Why You Should Mise en Place:

  • When cooking multiple dishes, gathering and prepping ingredients before you start cooking allows you to be more efficient with your time. For example, if two of your dishes need onions and garlic, you can dice the onions for both dishes at once and then portion the correct amount for each dish into separate bowls. The same goes for the garlic!
  • When making a dish where timing is important (like a stir fry), having all your ingredients prepped and set out in bowls next to the stove in order of use means your cooking goes smoothly and the dish turns out delicious. Scrambling around your kitchen because you realized you’re missing an ingredient while the garlic burns is NOT a fun process! 
  • Believe it or not, mise en place actually helps speed up the cooking process because it gets you organized, requires you to read over the recipe beforehand (super important for avoiding those “uh oh, I was supposed to soak the nuts overnight!” situations), and puts you in a present state of mind that ensures your cooking is as time-efficient as possible.

Simply put, mise en place results in better food, more enjoyable time spent in the kitchen, and less stress associated with cooking! 

So now that you’re convinced that you need to implement this simple but powerful system into your cooking, where do you start?

Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered! Keep reading to discover the five step process for mastering mise en place like a pro. 

This image show a woman with a mise en place of various ingredients she's using to assemble a salad.

How to Mise en Place

  1. Read through the ingredients list and the written recipe, and gather all the ingredients and kitchen tools you need. (This step also applies when you’re cooking without a recipe, just think through what you’ll need instead.)
  2. Get out an assortment of your mise en place bowls ranging from small enough to hold some spices or a tablespoon of oil, to large enough to hold your chopped veggies.
  3. Go through the ingredients list and prep each ingredient appropriately for the dish. This might look like:
    • Slice ½ an onion
    • Mince 3 cloves of garlic
    • Peel and dice 2 carrots
    • Wash and tear a head of kale
    • Don’t forget the little things like slicing the lemon in half and measuring out the spices!
  4. As you prep each ingredient, put it in its own prep bowl. Once you do this process several times and feel more confident, feel free to combine ingredients that go into the pot at the same time in a single prep bowl.
  5. Finally, physically arrange your prepped ingredients on the counter next to where you’ll be cooking in order of use, with the ingredients you’ll need first closest to you and those you’ll need later progressively further down the counter. Additionally, organize prepped ingredients for each dish in their own groups. 

That’s it! You’ve done it! Go ahead and do a little happy dance, my friend, because you’ve just unpacked the secret to stress-free cooking! Your busy schedule, your family, and your taste buds will thank you! 

Did I miss something? Do you have questions about the mise en place process? I’m here for you in the comments section below! 

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