Now that we’re in soup and stew season, it might be worthwhile going back to the basics of cooking. Mise en place – prepared ingredients and cooking tools ready to go – is crucial in maintaining a healthy diet. It’s not as enjoyable to cook in an unfamiliar kitchen when you don’t know where anything is. Same holds true for your own kitchen without proper ingredients and supplies; poor organization can make cooking a tedious task, creativity will suffer and so will your ability to maintain a routine.
Finding a time during the week to prepare your ingredients for meals will make cooking less daunting and your diet more sustainable. Make it enjoyable time: listen to a pleasant podcast, or chop veggies with your partner to a good album, or playlist. This can help set the tone for making the habit fun and is a nice way to live life and connect with your partner, or friends. Finding some joy everyday balances life’s never ending stressors. Personally, music consistently gives me a little oxytocin boost. I have loads of playlists for every mood. Here is one that just might accompany your culinary mood!
Understanding the basics of cooking
Most meals call for chopping, mincing or grating. Therefore, part of your mise should include these tools:
- a good, sharp chopping knife
- a cutting board
- a garlic mincer/crusher
- measuring cups for dry and liquid ingredients
- a saute pan (I prefer, and recommend, cast iron for fertility diets. It’s a natural way to help maintain healthy iron levels, which can be chronically low in many women)
- glass tupperware of various sizes to store chopped veggies and marinated meats
Most delicious meals start with a saute of sorts, so having these prepared veggies on hand, ready to go, makes cooking easier and quicker:
- olive oil
- yellow/white onion
- shallots (I love using shallots when a recipe calls for onions)
- peppers (all colors)
While some of these veggies come pre-chopped, unfortunately, they aren’t always organic and often need to be used within a day or two of purchase. It’s okay in a pinch, but you will get more nutrition from food you prepare yourself.
Setting aside the time at some consistent point in your week to purchase and chop these veggies will make your choices easier, your meal prep more enjoyable, and offer a sense of accomplishment that comes with making your own dishes! You can liven up your eggs in the morning with some peppers and shallots; you can warm up your raw salad with some sauteed peppers and fennel and cut your dinner prep time in half when your mise is in place!