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Use "Mise en Place" to Make Meal Preparation Easier
Alice Henneman, MS, RD, UNL Extension in Lancaster County
Questions or Comments? Email Alice Henneman, author
Mise en place (MEEZ ahn plahs) is a French term for having all your ingredients measured, cut, peeled, sliced, grated, etc. before you start cooking. Pans are prepared. Mixing bowls, tools and equipment set out. It is a technique chefs use to assemble meals so quickly and effortlessly.
Practicing mise en place has several benefits:
- Any missing ingredients can be spotted before it's too late for a quick trip to the store or your neighbor next door.
- Special preparation for ingredients -- such as toasting nuts, letting certain ingredients come to room temperature, etc. -- can be handled BEFORE cooking rather than in the midst of another preparation step when time delays may affect food quality.
- There is time to clean the mixing area as you go along rather than face a counter full of mixing equipment when you're done.
- You can group ingredients or place them in the order used to assure all recipe steps are included.
- It makes complicated recipes more fun to prepare when you're no longer doing a juggling act, trying to complete several tasks simultaneously.
Hint: You may find it helpful and that it brings out your "inner chef" to buy a set of 4 or more "pinch" or "mini" bowls.
They come in different sizes and may hold from about 1 to 3 ounces. You often will see TV chefs using these to hold smaller amounts of such ingredients as spices, a single egg, a couple tablespoons of cornstarch, etc. As another option, a set of smaller-sized custard cups may work as well for you.
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