Mis en place means “putting in place,” and to me it basically just means getting everything ready before you start to cook. You might be preheating the oven, or reviewing the recipe, but you haven’t actually started cooking yet. Before putting food to heat, you chop and measure and prepare every ingredient.
I expected to find a lot of beautiful mis en place pictures when I did a Google Image Search, since I think it photographs so wonderfully. I didn’t find much, but scrolling through Flickr, I found some nice stuff: click here to see (though some, I think, are from a restaurant by that name.
These images are from a dish I prepared on the fly the other night without a recipe. I know I saw a recipe for quinoa using fruit and veggies. But I couldn’t find it so I decided to wing it, and made a cup (dry) of quinoa with chopped green, yellow, and red peppers, broccoli slaw, dried blueberries, dried aprocot, canned pineapple, almonds, and spices (ginger, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, black pepper, and a pinch of cayenne). It turned out really good!
I froze two big portions of it using a trick I saw in Real Simple: if you have plastic containers that you want to use on a daily basis instead of having them sit in the freezer storing leftovers, freeze your portions as normal but line the container with foil. Once the food is frozen through, just pop it out of the container, wrap it more if you need to, and then your tupperware is free for more use!