How much time do you give to arranging your food prettily on the plate? It’s not something most of us give much thought to, as we simply dollop our meals onto the plate. However, if you’re cooking food for a special occasion, why not take the time and bit of extra effort required to make your food look as good as it tastes?

Read on to find out some of the tips and tricks the professionals use to make their dishes look amazing!

1. Invest in White Plates

If you don’t have white plates already, now is the time to buy some. Fancy patterned or colorful plates are great, but they tend to distract from the food itself. Large, white plates with a wide rim really make your food the star of the show. White plates are also usually cheaper than colorful ones.

2. Plan Your Colors

You need to decide what you’re going to make and take the colors of the food into consideration. You can use a color wheel to check which colors complement and which clash and plan your dishes accordingly. A quick way to add a punch is to use a bright garnish or sauce.

3. Taste and Texture

If all the food on the plate is smooth and creamy, it will look bland and boring. You need to add some crunch and texture for visual appeal. One thing to be careful of is creating a dish that looks great but tastes bad. Don’t add an ingredient to a plate if it looks good but doesn’t go with the other foods.

4. Food Placement

There are no ‘rules’ for where to place the food on the plate, but here are a few general guidelines to follow:

The clock method – meats at 2 o’clock, veggies at 6 o’clock and starches at 10 o’clock. Find a focal point, such as the meat and elevate it by placing it on top of a bed of veggies, mushrooms or beans. Mound potatoes at the back of the plate and lean the beans on them. Slice up the meats and fan them out on the plate.

5. Finishing Touches

Once you have the major parts of the dish arranged to your liking, now is the time to show off your creative flair. Less is often more, so try not to use all these suggestions at the same time.

Spoon some sauce under the meat instead of over the top. Use an eyedropper or squirt bottle to create sauce swirls and drips. Add some garnish if it’s edible and doesn’t make the plate look crowded. Add some props, such as ramekins or shot glasses containing sauces.