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Be a Better Cook

100 Ways to Be a Better Cook: Do These Things Before You Cook

Before you chop anything or turn on the stove, check these must-dos off your list.

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1. Read the whole recipe

“Before it’s time to cook – preferably at least a day or two before – read the recipe from start to finish,” says cookbook author and recipe developer Brian Theis, author of The Infinite Feast. You don’t want to be 10 minutes from dinnertime only to find out that you were meant to marinate something overnight.

2. Get your mise en place ready

Get used to having your mise en place – French for “everything in its place” – set. It’s the practice of having all your ingredients prepped before you cook. You’ll get all of the chopping, dicing, peeling and slicing out of the way so your ingredients are ready to be used.

3. Tidy the kitchen

Wash any dishes in the sink, empty the dish rack and clear off the counter. Starting in a clean and uncluttered space makes cooking less stressful.

4. Get your tools ready

Just as you want all of your ingredients on hand, make sure your pans, utensils and other equipment are ready to use. A critical moment in front of a hot skillet is the wrong time to realize you have no idea where the tongs are.

5. Make a game plan

For recipes with long interludes, such as boiling water, having a plan can help you use your time more efficiently. Figure out which tasks are best done up front and which can be done while waiting (for example, chopping herbs for garnish while the dish is in the oven).

Now that you’ve straightened up and prepped in advance, it’s time to fire up the stove or crank up your oven. Keep reading for more tips:

Next: Tips 6-15