For some, cooking offers a small window of time to get away (whether it’s from the constant ding of incoming Slack chats, the incessant cries of hungry children, or never-ending inbox notifications) by allowing them to let go and tune in to their inner culinary artist. Others may see cooking as a chore or a must-do, end-of-the-day necessity (because we’ve got to eat!). Either way, there’s no getting around making some kind of meal each day — unless you have a disposable income, that is.

Love it or hate it, there is a way to make cooking easier. The key? Mise en place. This simple French term, which is pronounced “MEEZ ahn plahs” (via UNL Food), literally means “putting everything in its place” (via Real Simple). This means having everything you need to make your entree measured, cut, peeled, sliced, etc. before you start cooking. You should also have your bowls, pans, and other equipment out as well.

Mastering mise en place

The term itself may seem intimidating, but you’ve probably been doing some version of organizing your ingredients or prepping already. “Setting up mise en place at home sounds fancy and difficult, but it’s just about being organized so that once you start cooking, it’s smooth sailing,” food writer and vegan baker, Alicia Kennedy, tells Huff Post. Streamlining the cooking process will prevent you from stressing over chopping or mincing one thing while your veggies (or whatever else you’re sautéeing) are on the verge of burning.

The first step to mastering mise en place is to set up your workspace. “Always have a place free of appliances and clutter to set up your mise en place and prep station,” New York private chef and caterer Robert Springer tells Huff Post. Once your space is clean and set up for cooking, look at your recipe and write out a list of the ingredients you’ll need (this will ensure you don’t run into surprises later), gather your equipment and ingredients, and then prep each ingredient one by one. Be sure to place each prepared ingredient in its own bowl, on its own plate, or in a separate area as you go. Pro tip: If you have leftover ingredients, store those in small, fridge-safe containers for later! This will make preparing your next meal a breeze.

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