Mise en Place is a French term used by chefs, and it means "everything in place". It's a simple concept, and doubtless many of you already do this. But in case you're becoming increasingly frustrated by the craziness that goes on before dinner gets on the table, a mise en place may be the difference between sinking and swimming.
Generally, I think about what needs to be done for dinner in the morning. While the kids are doing their chores, I'm often prepping ingredients for the night's dinner. These limes were being juiced to go into a quick Pad Thai. Juicing them took about 10 minutes, so that's 10 minutes saved during the hectic pre-dinner hour.
This dish also called for 8 garlic cloves to be minced, and that took about 5 minutes. A 1/2 cup of dark brown sugar, about 30 seconds. I also had to shred the meat of two rotisserie chickens, which took about twenty minutes, and chopped broccoli for a broccoli beef stir fry (maybe 5 minutes). All in all, I saved myself about 45 minutes worth of prep time, plus I washed the dishes I used, saving the dinner dish washers a little work, too. You're welcome, dinner dishwashers...
By the way, if you like my perky little prep bowls, you can find them here at Crate and Barrel.