Ever notice how celebrity chefs on television make cooking look so effortless? Their countertops are not cluttered with ingredients and dirty dishes; everything is already cut, measured and prepped, neatly lined up like soldiers awaiting the call of duty, making their work space just look so dang tidy.
Your culinary attempts, however, leave your kitchen looking worse than Bourbon Street after Mardi Gras. So what gives? Well, first off they are pros—one would hope they would have it down to an exact science by now. But more importantly, they are applying one of the first principles taught to the budding chef apprentice—mise en place. French translation: to put in place.
One might argue that no one is watching your valiant attempt to create the perfect dish or mimic Mario Batali’s technique, so why bother? To help with your quest to be a fit foodie who celebrates healthy eating, of course!
Personally, I like to prep in the morning so that when dinnertime rolls around all my ingredients are ready to go. That way, if time constraints are an issue, there is no temptation to order a pizza or settle for a PB&J. Just reach in the fridge, pull out your pre-washed, cut and measured ingredients, relax, pour yourself a glass of wine and get to cooking, a la Julia Child. No muss, no fuss.
A few pointers to make your prepping easier, coming right up!
How to Make Healthy Cooking a Breeze
1. Invest in a food processor. If for some reason you have not purchased a food processor, do so immediately. Not having this time-saving device at the ready is equivalent to navigating today’s world without a cell phone, GPS or—gasp—Facebook!
2. Sharpen those knives regularly. If your knives have not been sharpened in a while, get ‘er done. My local hardware store will put a nice clean edge on a blade for 75 cents, and they usually do it while you wait. Well worth the time and money.
3. Have a variety of cutting boards. And while you are sprucing up those knives, you might want to invest in a dishwasher-safe set of cutting boards. Treat yourself to a set of four color-coded flexible mats that can be rolled up to funnel food; they can usually be found for a measly 10 bucks.
4. Consider buying pre-prepped items. Although sometimes more expensive, it is not a disgrace to utilize items that are recipe friendly. I regularly use jarred minced garlic and ginger and no one is the wiser. Pre-shredded Swiss, cheddar and the like make assembly easy.
5. But do buy a microplane. Purchase a microplane grater for hard Italian cheeses like Parmesan. Buy only good quality, and you will throw rocks at the pre-packaged variety once you taste the difference.
Mise en place is not a new concept and one that you’ve undoubtedly already adopted for many of life’s situations. You wouldn’t blindly head to the gym for a workout and then check your duffle for the required shoes, music or hair-tie would you? Having your ingredients ready to go will take harried frustration out of your kitchen duties and your reward will be fresh, healthy meals perfect for any Fit Bottomed Girl.
Have you picked up any handy kitchen tips watching the pros? —Karen