Mise En Place
Mise En Place is a culinary term that describes the act of gathering, preparing, and organizing all your ingredients and materials before you start cooking.
Mise En Place refers to the physical setup of the process. It also refers to the mental readiness to get the job done. Of course, we need a kitchen with the right ingredients to prepare exquisite, nutritious meals. But a confident physical and psychological readiness is also necessary.
A few years back, I graduated from the Forks Over Knives plant-based cuisine course taught by Rouxbe Culinary Institute. Not surprisingly, the very first assignment was called the “kitchen reset.”
In the kitchen reset, we were to:
- Discard all ingredients contrary to the plant-based philosophy
- Acquire those ingredients needed to prepare the meals
- Organize both the pantry and the refrigerator
The Organized Kitchen and Mise En Place
This assignment made me think of the tight relationship between having an organized kitchen and the Mise En Place concept.
We can easily monitor product freshness and inventory levels when we have an organized pantry and refrigerator. That’s a big step in favor of nutritional quality and budget control. Also, having an organized kitchen allows one to achieve the mental and emotional readiness required to be efficient at and enjoy the process of cooking.
Organized and clean kitchens are more inviting, so we use them more often than messy, cluttered ones. Owners of such kitchens enjoy cooking and tend to cook healthier meals.
Efficient Kitchen Systems
To become a true kitchen ninja, you better know more than what a Mise En Place is.
Daily processes, maintenance routines, and kitchen systems are the true heroes behind an efficient, enjoyable kitchen and a happy cooking time.
The value of meal services such as Green Chef or Blue Apron, for example, is the Mise En Place delivered to your door. They provide all the ingredients needed to prepare dinners in the amount needed. Their ingredients have been sourced, washed, cut, and individually packed for your specific meal, including the recipe to follow, of course.
However, if you wish to enjoy that same efficiency in meal prepping but without the price tag of a meal delivery service, you must pay attention to the processes behind that Mise En Place and the systems that support an efficient kitchen.
Here are four processes that support an efficient kitchen and a streamlined meal prep process.
- Managing Recipes & Meal Planning
- Processing Groceries
- Organizing Fridge & Freezer
- Organizing Pantry
Managing Recipes & Meal Planning
Managing your recipes takes care of all those clippings, books, and notes floating in our cabinets. But most importantly, it promotes the use of favorite recipes in healthier, varied menu creation. The key is how you organize your recipes to start using them daily. See the video where we discuss recipe management here.
As a bonus, managing the recipes makes it easier to develop the weekly grocery shopping list without overbuying (recipes include all ingredient amounts). Not overbuying means less waste of food and money.
What happens to all those items bought at the grocery store when they come home? These need to become part of our systems if we seek to improve kitchen efficiency.
Incorporating groceries into our systems means that pantry products and refrigerated items need to be unbagged, unboxed, stripped of outer packaging as much as possible, washed, cut, divided, re-containerized, or decanted.
The goal is to have every item needed to cook or to put together a snack or breakfast as ready to be used as possible.
Organizing Fridge & Freezer
An organized fridge and freezer means adequately designating the containers to maintain those items processed from grocery shopping.
Containers should seal properly, preferably be transparent or translucent, be labeled (choose a labeling system that allows for constant changes), be BPA-free, and be dishwasher and microwave safe.
The freezer and fridge organization also needs to consider the zoning. By grouping items according to purpose or type of meal in the freezer and fridge, everyone has an easier time finding what they need.
The pantry configuration can make or break your time in the kitchen. The organization of the pantry should maximize the use of its space, add convenience with the placement of items and maintain product freshness. Read all about the details that comprise a stellar pantry here.
Start organizing your kitchen to enjoy your Mise En Place and efficient cooking.
Creating The Life You Want
It is possible to create the life you want for yourself. And you might not even imagine how much this has to do with being organized, but let me connect the dots. Keep reading.
We, Organizers, preach how much easier life becomes when we get rid of clutter and get organized. We talk about how organization saves money and gives us more time to relax and enjoy what matters. But those benefits are not achievable without you doing your part. They require attention, intention, and slowing down.
Your commitment to learning and practicing new habits and systems until they become second nature to you and all others sharing your home space is fundamental to freeing your brain and soul to find the point of creation within you.
Slow Down to Find That Point
But how could you possibly slow down with everything there is to do every day? So many things need your attention and intervention. There are so many things you must solve.
Rene Descartes once said: I think, therefore I am. And he was entirely correct. We are co-creators in this universe. Thus, we must be able to create the life we want.
Whether we call it God, Universe, Vortex, Life Force, or Spirit, there is a place in the human mind where the power to create our reality resides.
We can decide what we want our life to look, feel, and be like. We can manifest it!
In this high-paced world, most people don’t ever stop to reflect on their high-level ideas. However, people who meditate, for example, can decrease their pace and raise the vibration of their creative energy. That’s when and where the magic happens- they access their point of creation and create the life they want.
But how do we slow down or free up headspace?
Stop. Breathe. Listen.
That learning curve in the organizing process requires that you stop and understand some essential things:
- There are habits to eliminate while there are new ones to adopt
- You need to understand the systems implemented as your physical space is organized – understand how these systems work to maximize your productivity and efficiency.
- From this point on, it is essential to become intentional in everything you do
Like a Well-Oiled Machine
As a Certified Professional Organizer, I am responsible for educating my clients in organizing methodologies and principles, uncovering the root cause of their clutter, designing solutions for them, and showing them strategies and tactics to move forward confidently.
My clients seek results and effectively solve those issues that cause them to live small, disorganized, over-complicated lives.
However, their understanding of the organizing process and their long-term commitment to it are crucial to the long-term success of any organizing project. Without their understanding and commitment to the process, the best systems and most detailed organization efforts will fail.
When your home space is transformed, your old habits and routines won’t support the new way of living in that space anymore. You can’t expect results compatible with your new home environment, acting as you did before.
Also, the brain depends on action repetition for the body to develop that “muscle memory” to adopt a more intuitive way to do things. This is how routines become second nature – when newly created habits flow effortlessly. That’s when you have achieved a home that runs like a well-oiled machine.
Systems to Engage Autopilot
A system is a series of sequential actions to execute any given activity. Simple examples of household systems are how and when someone does the laundry, how they plan meals (or not), and even how they shower.
When we declutter, we remove excess from home. But when we organize, we sort through things, classify, allocate, and then custom-develop systems for the household and individuals within.
But the multiple benefits of an organized life depend on that person’s ability to systematize and automate their day-to-day tasks and effectively incorporate those systems and routines into their everyday life.
When daily tasks run “on auto-pilot,” that’s when a person finds the time and headspace to rise to the level of creation in their life.
When New Habits Become Second Nature
When new habits and routines become second nature to you and yours, then you can:
- be proactive instead of reactive
- dedicate time to what matters most to you
- spend more time with those you love
- work towards the achievement of your goals
- Create your life and circumstances (in every sense of the word)
Voila! Those are the benefits of an organized home and life.
Higher Thoughts Turn Into Goals
Imagine three levels of existence within you. All those menial, mundane tasks should happen at the base (lower level). The mid-level is where you execute most of the time and where your attention should be 85% of the time. That mid-level is where you make things happen, no matter if it is stuff from the basic level or the upper one. Finally, the upper level is for high-level, life-changing thoughts and goals.
When you have lower-level tasks on autopilot, they don’t need much of your attention. On the other hand, upper-level ideas need sufficient attention from you to bring them down to that mid-level. Bringing those thoughts to the mid-level is crucial because it is in the mid-level where you give them shape through concrete planning and execution. This is where goals come from!
Removing Attention From Menial Tasks
The benefits of being organized and having an efficiently managed home do not negate the need to attend to the menial daily chores. However, when we plan, schedule, and streamline everything that should happen in everyday life, we automate all those lower-level tasks.
This requires paying attention to planning and executing the menial stuff before automating these things. But once this is done, we can operate in a more stable environment, thus making it possible to focus on bigger, more important things.
In other words, daily living tasks get streamlined and automated in our schedule so that they don’t require our constant attention. When this happens (and these tasks become second nature), we hardly notice them. As a result, we stop feeling these to-dos interfere in our life.
And thanks to greater efficiency in our daily life, we have more time and headspace for the big picture and higher-level thoughts, which is where the point of creation resides.
Move Forward Create The Life You Want
And this is how you move forward to create the life you desire. The more streamlined and automated the lower-level tasks and ideas are, the greater the space in your mind to shape, plan and execute more significant ideas – our goals and dreams – the point of creation.
Not having the space or capacity to attend to the planning and execution of those ideas means living in the rat race where everything has the same priority and where we continually run around putting off fires.
That is an exhausting, reactive life. This unintentional life does not provide space or energy to think about what we want in life and much less to make it happen.