Mise en Place for Mental Health Recovery

Dr. David Wiss

February 5, 2022


The term “mise-en-place” is a French expression that loosely translates to “put in place.” According to the world-famous Michelin Guide, known for its 3-star rating system for the world’s finest restaurants, many believe the concept stems from the kitchen brigade system created by culinary royalty Georges-Auguste Escoffier, a chef who rose to prominence in the 18th century as an advocate of French fine dining. Escoffier is thought to have based his system on his years of experience as a soldier in the French army, applying a military-like hierarchy to the restaurant kitchen.

Mise en place refers to the steps required before efficient cooking, where ingredients are organized and arranged and then conceptualized into a timeline. The term has broader meanings that can be applied to teaching environments, hospitals, and daily practices. One way to think about it is front-loading effort so that processes can be carried out gracefully. Some chefs and cooks refer to mise en place as their religion. 

Mise en place is a way of life that helps to coordinate seemingly overwhelming amounts of labor and materials. Practical application of mise en place outside the kitchen transforms the lives of practitioners through focus and self-discipline. It’s a way of concentrating your mind to only focus on what you are doing at that moment. Many of these principles are core components of Mindfulness, including not being overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on elsewhere. Implementing this philosophy can help with food choices, eating habits, and stress management.

At Wise Mind Nutrition, we are proponents of Mindful and Soulful Eating. We believe that principles learned in one area of your life can spill over to other areas. Being organized in the kitchen can lead to being organized at your desk, in your inbox, or in your relationships. Recipes include a list of ingredients. List-making can become a way of life. Being organized frees up cognitive processes to implement elsewhere. But the key to mise en place is not so much the list, but the mindset. Developing a new mindset can take time, so let this be the beginning of a new chapter. Is it time to set up your station?

Do the grocery store and the kitchen give you anxiety? You are not alone. The best way to get comfortable at the grocery store is to go every week at the same time and walk aisle-to-aisle. Each time you go to the store, buy one food or ingredient you’ve never tried. The best way to get comfortable in the kitchen is by spending time there. Ensure all the knives and cutting boards are clean and in a consistent place. Clear space to work. Clear your mind. Relaxing music can also be beneficial.

Another strategy to develop a “mise-en-place mindset” is to clean up as you go, rather than letting dirty dishes and cookware accumulate. This takes practice. Once mastered, however, cooking feels like less of a chore. It may seem like you must speed everything up, but the mise-en-place mindset is more about slowing down to do things right. Stay calm and aim for progress, not perfection.

While the principles of mise en place might symbolize military discipline, it’s better conceptualized as a Mindfulness practice. Time is precious. Use it wisely. Remove clutter and chaos from your life. Unsubscribe from mailing lists that distract you. Be prepared to meet the task at hand with confidence. It may start in your kitchen but allow it to carry over to other areas of your life. Mise en place can be seen as a form of spiritual discipline that fosters growth and recovery. At Wise Mind Nutrition, we are here to walk you through the steps to feel more organized about your health and experience the wellness you deserve!

The principles discussed in this article may offer stress eating help, or with issues of eating late at night. If you have been searching for a nutritionist for mental health, you have come to the right place. We are on the cutting edge of nutritional psychology and nutritional psychiatry and are here to help!