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I am a wife, mother and grandma who enjoys the many aspects of homemaking. A variety of interests and hobbies combined with travel keep me active. They reflect the importance of family, friends, home and good food.
Cook ingredients that you are used to cooking by other techniques, such as fish, chicken, or hamburgers. In other words be comfortable with the ingredients you are using.
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Monday, January 25, 2010

Frugal Kitchens 101 - Mise en Place

Frugal Kitchens 101

If you were lucky enough to have take Home Economics aka Home Ec in high school or have watched any cooking shows you will be familiar with getting all of your ingredients and equipment ready prior to cooking. The culinary term for this is mise en place, a French phrase defined by the Culinary Institute of America as "everything in place, as in set up and ready to use. Today's Frugal Kitchens 101 will explore the concept of mise en place, why you should use it, how it can save you money and what you will need.

Why should you use mise en place?

  • It streamlines (convenience) the cooking process saving you time. You don't have to stop mid-stream when cooking to go looking for an ingredient. This makes cooking considerably more enjoyable.
  • It is an effective check list so you know you have everything necessary to complete that dish.
  • It reduces the risk for accidents (eg. burning food while searching for and ingredient), personal injury and property damage (eg. flash fire).
  • It reduces contamination between foods. If you are in a hurry during food prep it is quite common to not wipe or use separate measuring spoons. This introduces contamination into the main container that can cause off flavours and even spoilage.
  • It reduces the chance of over seasoning or adding a spoiled ingredient. If you only have 1 tsp of an ingredient in your mise en place bowl, you can only add that amount rather than an accidental extra.
How can mise en place save you money?
  • Any cross contamination between foods can cause spoilage. Spoilage ultimately costs you because you end up tossing the dish or the contaminated ingredient then you have to purchase again.
  • It serves as a safety check to prevent forgotten ingredients that can result in the failure of the dish leading to wastage.
  • Eggs in particular should always be cracked into a bowl before adding to avoid adding a spoiled egg into the dish. If the egg is spoiled all the rest of the ingredients need to be tossed out and you have to start over wasting both time and money.
  • If you gather all your ingredients first before even starting you mise en place you will eliminate that moment of horror when you realize you are out of one critical ingredient. It eliminates that drop everything and run to the grocery store moment that ultimately costs you both time and money.
What do you need for mise en place?
  • several small 3 or 4 ounce glass bowls for small dry measurements
  • 2 ounce silicone pinch bowls for smaller dry and wet measurements
  • dry/wet measuring cups
  • measuring spoons
  • 1 to 2 stainless steel measuring bowls


4 food lovers commented:

A Year on the Grill said...

t. I don't always put items in bowls, but measure as I go along, so I am 3/4 of the way there.

BUT... One additional reason, as i go along, I move ingredients from one counter top to a different one once I use the ingredient. This way, I know for sure that i have added something. I no longer have that odd moment when I wonder if I added baking soda.

cassandrasmom said...

I wouldn't know what to do with myself if I didn't practice mise en place. I learned about it when I was taking cooking classes.

Garden Gnome said...

Hi Dave :) I think the important thing with mise en place is the organization. You are doing a modified form of it and while it is working for you others might find it a bit cumbersome. However, we are home cooks not chefs so whatever works to ensure you don't forget ingredients is the method best suited for your style of cooking.

Garden Gnome said...

Hi Cassandrasmom :) I use mise en place for most of my cooking. It just simplifies the prep work and you don't end up with a dish partially made then realize you are out of an ingredient. Lucky you on the cooking classes. I'd love to take a few!