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.
It 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.
Not surprisingly, the 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 with 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 heroes behind an efficient, enjoyable kitchen and a happy cooking time.
For example, the value of meal services such as Green Chef or Blue Apron is the Mise en Place delivered to your door. They provide all the ingredients needed to prepare dinners in the amount required. Their ingredients have been sourced, washed, cut, and individually packed for your specific meal, including the recipe to follow.
However, suppose you wish to enjoy that same efficiency in meal prepping but without the price tag of a meal delivery service. In that case, you must consider the processes behind Mise en Place and the systems that support an efficient kitchen.
Four processes 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 removes all those clippings, books, and notes in our cabinets. But most importantly, it promotes using 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 developing the weekly grocery shopping list easier 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 to improve kitchen efficiency.
Incorporating groceries into our systems means that pantry products and refrigerated items must 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 assemble a snack or breakfast ready to be used as much 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, 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. Everyone can easily find what they need by grouping items in the freezer and fridge according to purpose or type of meal.
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.