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Saturday, October 29, 2011

Mise en place

Mise en place is French for "Everything in its place." It means that you do some of your food prep in advance, with everything in its place so that the actual cooking is less stressful. They do a version of this on cooking shows all the time. All the onions are diced, all the ingredients are pre-measured. That way, when they're ready to cook, everything is in its place and they just move through the recipe instead of watching them measure out each ingredient.

Mise en place is a great technique for home cooking too. It can be varied and used to suit your cooking style and the time available. I will use this week's menu at the Neilson house and demonstrate two different variations of mise en place.

Beef Stew
Fried Chicken and sweet potatoes
Zucchini and Quinoa Bake
Baked Potato Soup
Beef, Cheese and Noodle Bake

Quick meal prep: Let's say you have a little extra time on the weekend to do some meal prep, but don't have hours to do all your weeks cooking. I would look at all my recipes, and see what ingredients are needed. For beef stew, I would chop all the veggies (onions, carrots, and potatoes) and meat, and then store them in a baggie in the freezer. You could continue on with all your recipes, pre chopping and freezing or refrigerating veggies. I would also use my short meal prep to make the breads, tortillas, etc. for the week, as well as any grains that take a while to cook.

Longer meal prep: The way I've been doing this is a little more in depth on "cooking day", but takes almost all the work out of weeknights, which has been fabulous! (I watched the clock this week and was able to have dinner ready in 5-15 minutes each night.) In addition to my weekly menu, I also needed to make granola this week, and french bread since the kids asked for bruschetta to take in their school lunch. Here's my action list. This really just takes a little time looking at each recipe and seeing what needs to be done and what can be done ahead of time.

Beef Stew:
Thaw Beef
Cube beef, cut veggies, cook in crockpot
Freeze cooked stew

Soak pinto beans
Cook beans in crockpot
Make tortillas

Fried Chicken:
Thaw chicken
Fry chicken
Freeze in pan
Bake sweet potatoes

Zucchini and Quinoa Bake:
Thaw zucchini
Cook quinoa
Add eggs, cheese and seasonings, freeze in casserole dish

Baked Potato Soup:
Bake Potatoes
Mash and make soup
Refrigerate for later in week
Chop and Cook bacon
Dice Green onions

Beef, Cheese and Noodle Bake:
Cook Pasta
Brown ground beef

Make french bread
Make bruchsetta topping
Soak oats for granola
Mix and dehydrate granola
Wash and chop lettuce, store in baggie with paper towel

Looking over this menu, with most of these meals I was able to put most of the meal together and just reheat. That hasn't been the case with other recipes I've done, and really will just depend on what you're making that week.  A few of these meals will just need to be reheated the night of. Others, like the burritos,  take just a few minutes of cooking since everything's in its place.

The basic plan is to
1. Make a menu for the week
2. Make a step by step action plan of what needs to be done
3. Decide what you can/ have time to do ahead of time
4. Get to work!

I will also add that the original article I got this idea from had more basic ingredients stored in her fridge instead of actual meals. That way, she could just throw together caramelized onion jam (which is awesome, by the way- recipe coming soon), wheat berries and squash, and dinner was ready. That's sounds great in theory, but it's not how I cook. I don't just throw a bunch of things together and hope for the best. (Well, sometimes I do, but it doesn't always turn out great.)  But if that works for you, try to think of staples that you could make ahead of time. Sauté some onions and mushrooms, make some rice or quinoa, whatever your staples are, and voila! dinner is ready in a snap.


  1. That is such a great idea! Thanks for sharing it. I think I'll try it this week.

  2. Thanks! Hope it works out for you!

  3. Awesome! I'll have this on Christmas to have something new in our table. Thanks!

  4. New menu for the occasions. Great post! The menu look yummy and I'm already craving for it. I've got to try these few recipes.

  5. Thanks for this! I “pinned” it. =)