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Prep + Safety
battle scars earned with honor

Restaurants have prep cooks who chop, spiral, grate, roast, chiffonade, and steam all day. In the business, prep makes or breaks a restaurant's bottom line, and the same holds true for home kitchens. Keep in mind that prep creates waste or prevents it, which makes this the most important step in cooking. You'll also see the influence of French culinary culture in professional kitchens, and knowing a few of these techniques will add to your repertoire... even for beginners. Ready, set, allons-y!


Safety First / Mise en Place / Batch Cooking at Home / Five Mother Sauces + Company / Mirepoix + Aromatics / Food Safety at Home / Nine Meal Prep Hacks / Plant Food Poisoning


Safety First

(seriously folks)

There are five main ingredients in every cuisine which make each dish regionally unique. Almost everyone eats cabbages, carrots, and onions, but how these staples are combined with local spices, herbs, and aromatics can create extraordinary flavors. Boredom is held at bay, as we add sumptuous ingredients to the usual suspects of food in the fridge.


Mise en Place

(putting in place)

From Wikipedia: "mise en place (me-zahn-plahs) is a French culinary phrase meaning 'putting in place' and refers to the setup required before cooking." Separate cut up onions, celery, garlic, bell pepper, and carrots, and voila! Food tastes better because the timing is tight and your mind is mellow.

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Batch Cooking at Home

("build" supper in minutes)

There are two main ways to prepare food which can contribute to staying on track with a WFP lifestyle: pre-cutting and cooking, and leftovers. When I get home from a long hard day, my inner five-year-old is ravenous. If I have lemon-zest hummus and pre-cut celery or radishes waiting for me, I'm set. If I have al dente roasted veggies, pre-cut and cleaned kale, cooked hulled barley, and cooked navy beans in my fridge, I "build" supper in minutes. Also, leftovers tend to taste better with time, so enjoy your WPF lasagna and chili with delicious ease (they freeze well for up to about three months).

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Five Mother Sauces + Company

Vive la France! Every culinary tradition has its profound merits, with the French at the top of the culinary food chain (the Japanese are a close second in my humble opinion). Chefs around the world bow down to creative masters everywhere, tipping their hats to the French. Check out these sauces and their WPF versions, too. C'est parti!

Mirepoix + Aromatics

Mirepoix ("meer pwah") is a base combination of celery, carrots, and onions (any variety works). In New Orleans this is called the Holy Trinity, which uses celery, green bell peppers, and onions. Some restaurant kitchens have mirepoix prepped and ready to be added to just about anything, especially sauces, soups, and cassoulets as a base aromatic. Aromatics are foods that add flavor like onions, garlic, jalapeños, and mushrooms and are described here.

A useful kitchen hack: how we cut certain vegetables will make them into either an aromatic when smaller (like diced), or make them into an added veggie (larger cuts like slices or even whole in the case of garlic cloves or small shallots). It's how the flavor will either blend into a dish as an aromatic, or be one of the main flavors of the dish with larger cuts of aromatic foods. Pretty cool, eh?

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