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.
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
Organizing Fridge & Freezer
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.
Space permitting, contain all edible items in your kitchen in thepantry. Kitchen cabinets are for kitchen equipment, dining, and serving items. Include in the pantry pet food and snacks. Use pet food containers to avoid having open pet food bags and spills. Use the smaller versions of these pet food containers for treats. If you mix treats together, snack time will always be a surprise for your furry friends. By mixing treats in a single container, you avoid having many bags and treat containers open at once.
2. Remove Cleaning Products
Avoid storing cleaning products in the pantry. Kitchen cleaning products should go in the cabinet space under the sink. All other cleaning tools and products have their place in the laundry room.
3. Use Floor Space Wisely
Fit your pantry floor with baskets or crates to store plastic and paper serving products, beverage bottles or cans, water gallons, water jugs, and other items like lunch boxes. The floor area is good storage space, but we need to make it appropriate for holding our stuff.
4. Zone the Pantry
Create zones in your pantry so that the various product groups are on their space/shelf. Creating areas for the different product groups makes the space more efficient.
5. Hook It Up
Include a hook behind the pantry door for aprons if you use them.
6. Contain Plastic Bags
Add a plastic bag dispenser behind the pantry door. Think Simply Human. Their Wall Mount Grocery Bag Dispenser offers a practical addition to your pantry space to contain those plastic bags and yet keep them accessible.
7. Got Bulk?
Dog food containers are ideal for storing dry bulk goods in your pantry. Utilize these containers, aligning them along the pantry floor or the highest shelf in the pantry.
Consider adding lights to each shelf underside and watch the magic happen!
9. To Line Or Not To Line?
Some people consider lining their shelves and drawers a must; others don’t even think about it. If shelf lining is essential to you, consider a product like Zip-N-Fit Premium Liner. This liner is easy to cut to size by folding and tearing the pieces. It makes lining a breeze. There are great alternatives out there, but you should get a product that makes the job easy and makes you happy. Lining shelves (the right way) is a project and can be an investment. Whatever you decide, measure twice and cut correctly so your shelves look sharp and are appropriately protected.
10. What To Do About Cans?
Organize canned products using tiered can organizers. These organizers allow you to see all cans at a glance and save space on the shelves. Look for the expandable kind to maximize the use of space.
11. Pantry Corners — Do We Have To?
Using Lazy Susans on pantry corners is a good idea to maintain access to those awkward spaces.
12. Snacks, Anyone?
Consider baskets or bins to place individually packed snacks. Remove them from their original boxes or packaging first.
13. Dry Goods: The Pantry Defining Item
Dry goods will decide the defining question about your pantry: Do you want a Pinterest pantry or a more functional one?
The Pinterest look is a high maintenance alternative, as it requires the consistent transfer of all dry goods to containers each time you bring new products home.
The functional approach allows items to remain in their original packaging but clustered by bins or baskets.
The dry goods we refer to are cereals, rice, grains, dry fruit, crackers, cookies, pasta, flour, chips, and the like. In general, these items should not be exposed to moisture and should last fresh for some after we open the package.
Pro Tip: measure each shelf to determine the space available and count the different kinds of dry products in the dry goods category. Whether you go with the functional approach or the high-maintenance one, you will need to know what to buy and how much.
Pro Tip: Stay clear of round containers as they waste much space. Go with rectangular or square but stick to the same type of container to achieve a polished look.
14. Labeling Is Important
Labeling is not an unnecessary detail. On the contrary, labeling allows everyone to find what they need quickly. Labeling also reminds everyone where to put things back; thus, it is crucial to preserve the pantry order when many people share the space.
When using containers in your pantry, label these with a system that adapts to changes. Tastes and preferences of household members change over time. You want a labeling system that looks great, but that can be modified.
If you’d instead use the cluster method to keep items in your pantry, then label your bins or baskets with the category of product it contains.
But regardless of your preferred method, labeling also the shelves is a good idea. Label the shelf space where each item category should go.
15. Where Do Spices Go?
Unless you keep your cooking spices next to the stove, these should go in the pantry. And as with any other pantry group, these should be together and have specific space on a shelf. A tiered spice rack on the shelf is ideal for placing all spices because it allows you to see them all at once.
When pantry shelf space is not an option, the Elfa Spice Rack comes to the rescue! This clever solution goes on your pantry door, on the inside. It is a lifesaver.
Hopefully, these tips will help transform your pantry into a happier, more efficient place for the benefit of everyone involved. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you need some pantry help. We love pantries!