Creating The Minimalist Kitchen

As you know, I like to consider myself a minimalist, but there are certainly areas of my life where I am not necessarily practicing  what I’m preaching. In fact, Melissa Coleman, author of The Minimalist Kitchen,” has shown me that when it comes to cooking and organizing, I have a lot to learn.

I first met Melissa when she was one of my private media training clients.

We got along straight away, as we’re both productive and practical people. Melissa’s speciality is helping you really think about the ingredients that your using as well as cutting back on an overflowing pantry. She’s like the Marie Kondo of the kitchen.

We spoke recently about all of her best minimalism tips in this video interview:

How it all started

Melissa had always been a competent cook but, after the birth of her daughter, things started to unravel:

“I had my daughter about … she’s five now, and the kitchen completely broke for me. I did not know how to get dinner on the dinner table. It was mind-blowing, and it got to the point that I looked over at my husband and I said ‘I’m going to either quit this space or fix it.’”

A big life change can often leave us having to re-evaluate the systems we have put in place.

What worked before will not always work forever.

So how did Melissa turn it around? She invented her own system.

“The Minimalist Kitchen was born. I love food, I love to eat, and so I wanted to preserve the dinner table. And getting back to the dinner table took a long time. It took making over my pantry. It took changing my shopping habits. It took convincing my husband to change his shopping habits.”

Of course, it’s important to not just find a style that works for you, but for those you live with too. Melissa saw her kitchen like a restaurant that needed to be managed.

“I’m the restaurant owner and I need to build the system for my employees. I don’t like that hierarchy, but just for an example. And it needs to work for my employees. Like, the snack bin for my five-year-old needs to be at a place she can reach it or she’s gonna scale the pantry and it’s gonna all fall apart.”

 

Fixing What’s Broken

When she was looking at what wasn’t working, Melissa started with her pantry.

“I had spilling bags of pasta and rice. I had every variety of rice, because different recipes call for different varieties.”

How many different types of rice do you have? How can you combat this? Melissa explains you have to pick just one.

“What you use most, or an ingredient that you really like how it performs. I imagine if you looked in your pantry there would be one rice that you pick up every time. Or when it runs out you replace that rice, even though you’ve got five other bags. Or, the same with pasta. There’s a bunch of different varieties of pasta, and I imagine that you go pick the same one.”

As much as I hate throwing stuff away – it’s true. There’s no point keeping things we never use.

Melissa recommends getting rid of everything at the back of your pantry and learning to work with what’s at the front – the items we use most.

 

The Concept of Negative Space

Melissa’s background in graphic design has inspired her minimalist quest.

“I am a graphic designer by trade and before that I was a painter. A technique or a philosophy or a tool that I always grabbed was negative space, and then when I became a designer they called it white space. I realized that what I’m doing now is what I was doing then. I am trying to minimize what’s around me in my physical space to create physical white space and mental white space. Just a space to breathe and think.”

Melissa also uses a lot of lists, like I do, in order to plan her meals for the week.

“I have to write down a meal plan. I have to not only write it down, I have to see it, so we have this huge chalkboard in our house that I write the meal plan on for the week. So as I’m going throughout my week, I see that list and then I make that list.I used to loathe dinnertime, and when I see that list, I know what to do, I know what to buy at the store. I just make dinner and it feels light. It feels easy and really doable, but prior to not having a list, trusting my brain, it was not working so well.”

If you feel like you need more help, be sure to check out Melissa’s book, “The Minimalist Kitchen. It features loads of great recipes that all use the same core ingredients -the kind of stuff you already probably have lying in your pantry. So you can spend less time shopping and more time cooking! My personal favorite is the take-out cashew chicken.

Melissa has something special coming up in the New Year. In January, she’s launching a deeper pantry cleanse tutorial. It’s taking the same concepts of the book, but taking a deeper dive, doing worksheets, really making it so practical so that you can completely makeover your kitchen. I’ll keep you posted on that because it’s something I need to do as well! We can do it together.

4 Ways to Organize Your Closet With Ease

I am a huge Marie Kondo fan, I love how she know how to make decluttering look so simple. In reality though I sometimes find decluttering and ongoing and tiresome task. Besides what exactly do you do with your wardrobe once it’s decluttered? How do you make it work for you?

Monisha Kapur is a stylist and wardrobe consultant – so I figured why should I try to tell you how to organize your closet when I can just defer to her expertise. Plus she was a student of mine in my online course teaching experts how to get media attention.

In my latest video interview, Monisha reveals her favorite app for organizing your closet. You can watch it here!

Here are some of Monisha’s top tips: Read more

Plan Mini Destination Trips to Recharge and Rejuvenate

I recently wrote a post on the importance of making time for myself now that I work from home. When your home is also your office it’s not easy to make as clear boundaries with your time. In the comments section of that post a friend and regular reader, Sandra Keros, wrote  that she likes to plan mini destinations to get out of her head and out of her apartment. What a great idea!

Since I loved it so much I got in touch with Sandra to talk more about her mini destinations and what she does. This is what she had to say:

“As an entrepreneur, it’s easy to get caught up in thinking about and working on your business around the clock. From time to time, a little recreation is necessary to give yourself a break, have some fun, and “recreate” your thinking on projects you’re working on. Read more

The One Priority You Should Be Focusing On

We’re part way through December and the holiday season is truly upon us, all the store fronts are decorated, the malls are pumping Christmas music and Hanukkah begins tomorrow! The thing about December is that it’s easy to get overwhelmed, to commit to too many social engagements or get too many presents for people you don’t really know that well!

As you know I’m a big fan of essentialism and I’ll be treating this holiday season exactly the same. My recommendation would be to think of the one thing you want to do before January (I know, really just one thing!) and put all your focus into that.

You don’t have to forget about everything else, but keep your number one priority in mind. Here are some example priorities and how to make the most out of them:

To spend more time with family – Holidays are meant to be about family, but we can sometimes end up spending more time making awkward small talk with your cousin’s neighbor  than  with your actual family. Politely decline invitations from the people you don’t really need to see and instead make a plan to hang out with your kids or your parents – even if it’s just staying on the sofa and watching Christmas movies. Read more

Holiday Lists to Make Right Now to Keep Your Sanity

When it comes to preparing for the holidays I’m a firm believer that it’s never too early to start. Usually I start in August. This year though, I’ve been feeling more disorganized than usual. I’ve realized that when I was working at Fox News  I had settled into a pretty good routine. Now that I’m out on my own I’ve been struggling to find that balance again. When you work a job with a set finish time it’s much easier to check out mentally and compartmentalize your tasks.  As I get my footing as an entrepreneur it’s not as easy because I find myself doing everything all the time!

Luckily for me there’s still time to get organized – all I need is a list. If you’re in the same boat as me it’s fine, but we need to get started. Here’s a list of all the things to consider before the end of the year:

Presents Lists – This is the most obvious list to start with and maybe the one that requires the most thought. This year I’m taking a more essentialist approach to gifts. Instead of going overboard I’m thinking about what the people I care about could really use this year. In the new Bad Mom’s Christmas movie Mila Kunis’s character jokes how she’s bought so many unnecessary presents this year, going so far as to buy her barista a scented candle. We laugh – but who hasn’t gone overboard on gift shopping at least once? Look over your list and have a good think about who really belongs there! I like to keep ideas in my Evernote notebook throughout the year for times just like this when I can’t think of what to get. In that folder I keep ideas that I’ve found and notes on what people have told me through the year that they would like or need. Read more