This post is part of the series, Make Life In The Kitchen Easier (MLITKE), where you will find Revel-worthy tools and techniques. that make your time in the kitchen easier, more efficient, more accurate, more fun, or all of the above.
If you’ve ever felt frustrated juggling the many little bowls holding your prepped ingredients, then I’ve found the tool for you. There’s even a good chance you already own it.
Unlike the gaggle of various sized bowls that can be a pain to scoot aside, move around, and clear away, this unassuming sectioned tray keeps it all together, portable, and accessible.
It is just the right size to hold all (or most) of the ingredients for one dish, and because it is flat and lightweight, you can effortlessly move it as a self-contained unit. Since there’s never enough counter space, you’ll appreciate that you can set it down in places beyond just the counter — try the top of the toaster oven, over a stable mixing bowl, or on a chair.
The divided sections keep items separate, and the long narrow compartment is perfect for small amounts of aromatics, such as minced garlic and herbs. Every item faces an edge of the tray, making it easy to use a specific item just by scooting it into the skillet.
Cover the filled trays in plastic wrap to store and be amazed at how you can slide the trays on top of the menagerie of containers in your fridge. When not in use, they stack and store vertically, so you can snake them into the spare gap next to your mixing bowls, or store them upright alongside cutting boards.
If you are cooking for a crowd or have a large volume of certain ingredients, you won’t be able to fit everything on one sectioned tray. For example, you may need a large bowl of diced potatoes for potato salad, or to hold bread cubes for stuffing. Also, liquid ingredients are not well suited. However, I always choose this tray over the stack of prep bowls I would need to replace it.
I have seen them called sectioned trays, divided trays, TV dinner trays, and mess trays. For our purposes of holding prepped ingredients, I call it a mise tray (short for mise en place). You should be able to score them at stores that sell home goods like Target or Amazon.com.
Since the idea first came to me and I snatched up these trays for about $4 each, they’ve been a fixture in prepping almost every meal in my kitchen. That was years ago. Mise trays are oh-so-satisfyingly super-functional and retro chic to boot. I’m still excited about them! I think you will be, too.
Do you own one of these trays? What tool, gadget, or helper is essential in your kitchen?
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