Cooking is not all flipping pans, stirring pots, or popping things in and out of hot ovens. Before that fun begins, all the prep must be done to ensure that the cooking process goes smoothly. Most of the time, prepping can take longer than cooking itself, but if your prep work is done beforehand, the cooking process will be smooth and streamlined.
3 Steps to Stress-Free Cooking
If you have ever tried to cook and prep at the same time, you’ll know that it usually ends up in disaster. You toss your sliced onions into the wok for a stir-fry, and as it cooks, you attempt to quickly chop up a carrot. Maybe you couldn’t find your peeler or you didn’t take the carrot out of the fridge yet, but those few seconds cost you, because next thing you know, you’re dashing back to the wok to toss the onions that are starting to burn, and the carrot is still not ready to go!
This is what happens when prep is not done before cooking – more possibilities of burnt food and way more stress, both of which no cook wants to deal with.
Mise en place is a French phrase for “everything in place,” which professional kitchens use to refer to setting up and getting ready for cooking or service. It is also a very effective practice to put into play at home as well. The basic idea is to have everything organized and arranged before you start cooking, so that you can cook with ease (and less burning). Keep these 3 simple steps in mind when you prep, and you’ll be guaranteed a smooth cooking process from start to finish.
1. read the recipe
Before starting anything, know exactly what you will be cooking by reading through the recipe. Even though you might not be able to memorize every single step, at least you’ll have an idea of what you’ll be doing and how to get organized.
See what ingredients need to be prepped to ensure an efficient cooking experience – slice onions, dice carrots, wash salad greens, marinate chicken, etc. You’ll find that some things require more prep time, such as marinating proteins for an hour. If that’s the case, you’ll want to do that first and then work on the rest of your prep while the protein is marinating.
2. use prep bowls
Next, as you prep and chop your veggies and herbs, make sauces and dressings, put them into prep bowls, so that when you cook, all you need to do is toss the desired ingredient into the pan. This is where reading the recipe ahead of time also comes into play, as you can see what items can be combined in one bowl. For example, if a recipe calls for you to saute garlic and onions together, combine both prepped ingredients in one bowl. That’s one less bowl to wash!
3. keep your cooking area clean
A cluttered, messy cooking space will only make you feel stressed and disorganized. Once you have prepped all your mise en place, wipe the counters free of any food scraps, clean your cutting board, and put any dirty dishes into the sink. Now that everything is clean and set up, you can get cooking without anything getting in your way.
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