It’s Spring: Time to get Organized in the Kitchen!


Cooking at home and preparing your own meals, is an essential part of a healthy diet and lifestyle. Cooking is a way of taking ownership and control of your diet, giving you the choice of what ingredients, and what quantity of ingredients you use. Studies show that eating out leads to at least a 50 percent increase in calories, sodium and total fat consumed compared to home-cooked meals. Restaurants are known to add more fat, sugar, salt, and other ingredients that you would not use at home. Getting properly organized before jumping into a recipe allows you to cook with focus and ease, allowing for a more efficient and enjoyable cooking experience.  An efficient way to do this is by preparing the mise-en-place, which means everything in its (right) place. This includes ingredients collected, measured, washed, chopped, placed in individual containers, cooking equipment prepared for use etc. Mise-en-place is a fundamental part of the cooking process in any restaurant, but somehow this practice is rarely adopted by home-cooks.  Preparing your own meals does not have to be stressful if you are well organized, and embrace the fun and creative part of cooking. Here’s my list of 10 steps to getting organized for efficient and stress-free cooking!

1. Decide on a recipe/dish and write it down or print it out and read through it more than once.

2. Write down all the ingredients you don’t have and need to buy.

3. Shop for the ingredients using your list (checking them off as you go).

4. Gather all the ingredients together in one place and lay them out in front of you to minimize time going to the fridge/pantry to get items.

5. Keep your ordered “to do” list or the recipe nearby in a dry, clean spot to reference and check off as you go.

6. Wash, chop, prep the food and discard scraps right away to keep a clean and organized workspace.  Keep a bowl by your cutting board for compost, which saves time going to and from the bin.

7. Measure out the spices, sauces, etc. then return them to their right place to keep things organized and clean.

8. Put your ingredients into bowls or containers (use finished yogurt containers etc.) that don’t take up as much counter space as bowls.

9. Set up your workspace with needed tools like spoons, skillets, knives etc.

10. Once you’ve done all of this you’re ready to cook! This should not take very long if you’re putting together a simple meal for yourself and/or family-most of the work’s been done!

 Danielle Levy, RHN,