At my first design job out of school, we had an efficiency box. If a step in the workflow seemed inefficient, you put anonymous feedback in the box—either a problem or a solution. Upwards of 12 people touched a project during its lifetime. To meet deadlines and create great work without mistakes, an efficient workflow was key. It hit me while dialoguing about Minimalism in the Kitchen during the A Couple Cooks podcast—the kitchen pantry should be no different. It should be smart and efficient. It should work for you, not against you. So, I built a minimalist pantry. Read more
Ahh, it’s reveal day for Tara’s Pantry Makeover. I wish I could have captured the excitement in the air and the long exhale out we felt during this process. But maybe you can feel it by looking through the pictures? Pantry Peace. You can see everything at once, retrieve something easily, and put it back without having to dig or think. We’ve handled Tara’s pantry, so she has the bandwidth to handle the bigger, more uncontrollable parts of life. It’s one of the best gifts you can give yourself, in my opinion. And all the people said amen. Amen. To Tara, thank you for having me in your home and being willing to share it here.
There’s nothing quite as intimate as opening your pantry doors to a group of strangers on the internet. When I first shared the before of mine a couple of years ago, I would have preferred to open my underwear drawer instead. Today, another brave soul is opening wide her pantry doors to the internet. I’d like to introduce you to Tara and her pantry. It’s a very familiar pantry to me, a whole lot like the one I grew up with and the one I created as an adult. Most of us think the pantry is a problem exclusive to our home. Well, maybe we shouldn’t think too highly of ourselves; it’s a pretty universal problem. Pantry items look great on the shelf at the grocery store and not so great at home. It’s to be expected. It’s also to be expected that the little cardboard flap on the top of the box won’t keep your items as fresh as promised after opening. So we say, “Why bother?” This is a mindset that carries over to the pantry. It’s a beast too crazy to control. Or maybe it’s not? Read more
I write about food. And dream about it too. Without saying it explicitly, I preach week in and out to make food from scratch. It’s better that way. But come 5:00 pm on a weeknight, I’m without a message to preach or an idea of what to make. Dinner’s hard. It’s even harder now that we have a tiny little person who needs to be in bed by the time we once started making it. Unlike the rest of our life, we kept dinner spontaneous because we could. Long-winded when we felt like it. It wasn’t a burden then. Read more
You may remember this no-rise pizza crust or this make-ahead Neapolitan-style dough. Here’s the simple, pantry pizza sauce I use to top most every pizza, unless we’re going pesto (which is equally awesome). If I had to guess, you probably have everything sitting in your pantry—tomato paste + water + a couple seasonings. Don’t let the ease deter you. A couple light swirls of a pastey tomato sauce is perfection beneath fresh mozzarella. A little goes a long way in my pizza-loving opinion.
We’re back to the rhythm of the school year, a rhythm I’ve come to crave. We really let things go this summer—from cleaning to meal planning to using a calendar. I’m itchy to get things back into normal working order, mostly so life works. Maybe you’re rowing down the same stream? If so, it may be a good time to take a look at the pantry, whether you need a little tidying up or some major help. My mantra: Handle the things within your control so you have the bandwidth for the rest. Let’s handle the pantry. Over the next two weeks, I’m focusing specfically on the pantry, answering some great common questions that came out of The Minimalist Kitchen Course earlier this year. First up (today)—how to add a pantry to your kitchen without a remodel. Next—how to make an organizational plan for your pantry, working with a real-life pantry. Finally—a real-life pantry makeover and reveal. Read more
I’m not the super mom of my dreams. The mom who both stays at home with the babe and effortlessly works a full time job in her free time. (Free time? Ha.) The mom who has dinner thought out a week in advance. The mom who has clean sinks and clean, folded laundry too. The mom who is well dressed with makeup to accompany. No, no. I’m not the super mom of my dreams. Read more
I had no intention of posting this recipe. Enchilada sauce? That’s so boring. But holy cow, after tasting this, I knew I had to share. And selfishly, I’m documenting this for further use. I have this tendency to concoct things and tell myself I’ll remember how to recreate it next time. Kinda like how I told myself I’d never forget high school Spanish. And like how I told myself I didn’t need a video of our wedding. Moral of the story—I can’t remember mucho. Read more
Last year I did a major pantry overhaul. It was a disaster prior. I shared the before (close your eyes) and after, along with 7 tips to building a minimalist pantry. It’s been a whole year, and we’ve stuck to it. We’ve made some improvements too. But before I get into those, check out the original post. For a comprehensive guide to creating and cooking in a minimalist kitchen, pre-order my cookbook, The Minimalist Kitchen (Oxmoor House, April 2018).
The practical art of making more with less. It’s the tagline of my book. It’s one of my favorite things to think about and implement into my life. I like to talk about it, too. You can listen to this podcast with Robyn of Real Food Whole Life. Throughout our conversation, Robyn asked me to break this idea down and break it down again. To be honest, it’s a complex, multi-faceted thing to break down. While this idea is intuitive for some, it’s counterintuitive and confusing to others. Many would think, if I pare down my kitchen, for example, then I’ll only be able to make basic, 5-ingredient recipes. Aside from Marcella Hazan’s brilliant 5-ingredient tomato sauce (you can see my version here), not a lot of recipes come together in so few of ingredients. At least not many you’d want to make again and again. That’s why this whole less-is-more thing is so incredible. Stay with me. If you do, there’s a Lodge Cast Iron giveaway at the bottom. Read more
The 3-part pizza mini series continues today with Part 3: The Sauce. Catch up on Part 1: The Gear and Part 2: The Dough. During one of our earlier dough-offs to find the best dough recipe, we unintentionally had a pizza sauce throw down. I made my old trusty tomato paste sauce while Kev made a more traditional Neapolitan sauce using crushed tomatoes. I didn’t lose this throw down, but I didn’t win either. At the end of the dinner, the dough critique turned into a conversation about the sauce. It was unanimous—we all liked aspects from each of the recipes. Read more
Did you watch the show Dinosaurs back in the day? We did. Every last episode. I watched it again on Netflix just before having Hal. It kept me occupied during my many craft projects for her room. I’m pretty sure she’d recognize the theme song if I played it for her now. In one episode Robbie looks at his dad, Earl Sinclair, and explains he’s a herbivore. Earl was a carnivore. You can imagine how that went over. Earl took Robbie out back to catch dinner. Robbie befriended his “dinner” and made a salad. Read more
If it looks like a blender, blends like a blender, and makes smoothies like a blender, then it must be a blender. Unless it’s a Vitamix. In that case, it’s a blender, a food processor, an immersion blender, a peanut butter maker, an oat flour blitzer, a whipped cream whipper, and the list goes on and on. I married into a Vitamix family. My husband grew up using this high-powered blender. His Uncle Rex sold these machines for many years. And his mom, Tamara, got him a Certified Reconditioned Vitamix as a college graduation present. It’s the same blender we’ve been using all these years. (Read on for giveaway.) Read more
I got the dreaded letter in the mail but deferred for 6 months because Hal was in preschool. And, like clockwork, as promised, the dreaded parcel came again, 6 months later. Jury duty. Duty. My duty, despite needing to be available to get Hal on the bus in the morning and off in the afternoon. Despite being self-employed with previously scheduled deadlines. Despite, despite, despite. So, I made muffins outta jury duty—wholesome make ahead banana coco carrot muffins made entirely from pantry staples, including Happy Egg Organic Free-Range Eggs™ to stock the freezer for breakfast this week. Because jury duty starts today.Read more
I’ve been hard at work, behind the scenes, creating a comprehensive resource for you. The Minimalist Kitchen Course is coming to a computer near you, January 8th to be exact. This course is an addendum to my book. A prequel to the sequel. A tighter hand hold. Not like a squeeze-your-hand hold, more like a hold-your-hand hold. Many were able to take my book, The Minimalist Kitchen, and pare down their kitchen easily. And others were like, break it down now. Which is how I feel anytime someone talks about business or tax stuff. I’m like break it waaaayyyy down now. That’s how this course has been designed. The book still stands. In fact, you’ll need to use it as your textbook for the course. Read more
Where do you store your (natural) peanut butter? The back of the package says to store it in the fridge, but mine always ends up rock solid. Store in the pantry, stirring every so often to evenly incorporate the oils. Still need to soften it? Add a little heat (if the container is glass), whether in the microwave or set in a warm bowl of water.
For extra flavor, brine your turkey this year. I use this recipe. Instead of searching stores high and low for a brining bag, use an oven roasting bag leftover from last Thanksgiving in your pantry. Allow the turkey to soak in the brine overnight to 24 hours ahead of time. Discard the brine and cook as you normally would.
UPDATE 7/19: Unfortunately my book publisher closed their doors in September of 2018. Not long after my book nearly sold out. I’ve been working since to either get a reprint or the rights back. Unfortunately, neither has happened yet. Thank you for your patience while we sort this unfortunate situation out. To see where you can still get the book, see below.
I wrote you a book!
The Minimalist Kitchen: The Practical Art of Making More with Less (Oxmoor House) is a cookbook, but more importantly, it’s a framework for creating a minimalist kitchen, a kitchen pared down to the essentials. This framework touches everything from your ingredients, tools, and pantry, to your cooking techniques, meal planning, and shopping habits. Once the framework is in place, you can make 100+ mix and match recipes. Creating a minimalist kitchen is counterintuitive. You pare down so you can create more.
It’s true what they say—less is more. But this is also true—achieving simplicity is difficult. How do you know what to keep and what to get rid of? This comprehensive guide will hold your hand through the process and make dinnertime (and the kitchen) feel doable again.
For best results, read this cookbook like a novel, from the beginning. Chapter 1: The Minimalist Kitchen sets the stage for how to make and use the recipes, Chapters 2–8. The recipes are mini allegories (delicious allegories) for using a pared down kitchen to its full potential. They are the practical application of the minimalist kitchen. If you’d like more guidance in paring down your kitchen, I created a 4-part course to break the process down. Start here.
You’ll find the recipes to be vegetable forward and simple without compromising flavor. They’re intentionally designed to fit the rhythm of the week and labeled weekday, weekend, and make ahead accordingly. Weekday recipes are quick and efficient, while weekend recipes are slower and celebratory. Some recipes have make ahead components to increase efficiency and break up prep times. Note: You’ll find ingredient lists ranging from 3 to 20 ingredients. But don’t be scared by the longer list, as most of the ingredients are sitting in your well-stocked pantry.
Amazon (Sold by a thrid-party. Available on the Kindle.) Indiebound (Use the local store finder to check availability and call to verify. There are still some copies hanging out in stores.) Barnes & Noble (Available on the Nook.) Target (Sold out.)
“For years I’ve been in awe of Melissa’s unique ability to maintain a fiercely organized, minimalist style without sacrificing warmth, welcomeness, and creativity. With The Minimalist Kitchen, we now have all of her secrets and I could not be more excited about this!”
—Molly Yeh, author of Molly on the Range
“Melissa helps you bring calm to the chaos of your kitchen. This book is a feel-good, can-do pep talk about how to keep your pantry in order, your utensils from getting out of control, and how to create delicious meals for weekdays and occasions without getting overwhelmed.”
—Jeanine Donofrio, author of The Love & Lemons Cookbook
“This book is stunning and so clever. My kitchen is the opposite of minimal so it was so inspiring to read handy tips and easy changes to make life simpler in the kitchen! I went straight out and bought food storage containers to get my cupboards in order like a woman possessed!”
—Martha Collison, Great British Bake Off quarter-finalist and author of Twist
“I had the good fortune of sampling some of these recipes before the book was published, and most of our dinners were followed up with a text the next day: Hey Melissa, can you send me that recipe from the book? This book is a game-changer. It not only gives you practical recipes that you will actually make, but it also teaches you to approach cooking (and maybe life in general) with a fresh, modern perspective.”
—Lindsay Ostrom, Pinch of Yum
“Melissa is the reason my pantry is now filled with tidy rows of lidded glass jars each with a pristine label. My spice drawer now brings me great joy every time I slip it open. In The Minimalist Kitchen, Melissa inspires tidiness and a pared-down kitchen with joy and creativity at the heart of it all. With less clutter we are freed up to enjoy the task of cooking and can then spend more time at the table eating with the ones we love.”
—Ashley Rodriguez, Not Without Salt
“With a welcoming tone, The Minimalist Kitchen invites readers to choose quality over quantity and gently guides with efficiency. Melissa’s book is gorgeous and thoughtful, with a strong focus on wholesome ingredients and simplicity that is often lacking in American kitchen culture. But, most importantly, her book contains recipes that actually make me excited about cooking dinner again.”
—Sarah Kieffer, The Vanilla Bean Blog
“As a new mom I’ve struggled to find time to cook for my family. I truly miss the time I used to have to make wholesome meals for the people I love. The Minimalist Kitchen is a great resource for simplifying your approach to meal planning so you’re able to find the rhythm of your new routine and provide homemade meals without sacrificing quality time with your family.”
—Kate Arends, Wit & Delight
“An easy approach to organizing the kitchen and cooking….plenty will appeal to those who are on the hunt for swift, simple, palatable fare.”
“If you are Martha Stewart, maybe you don’t need this cookbook. If you are any cook other than Ms. Stewart, you should find worthy advice and helpful household and cooking tips in Minimalist Kitchen. Who hasn’t pulled open the kitchen accessory drawer to search fruitlessly for an item that is hidden in plain sight? (I did this just last night. How did my blender beaters get tucked all the way in the back corner?) Melissa Coleman refers to the kitchen as being the biggest closet in the house, and I think she is right. All closets need regular purging. Coleman gives sage advice on what really is needed. If you are new to cooking and don’t yet have all the things, then lucky you, you will be able to use Minimalist Kitchen for your future acquisitions and start a lifetime of good habits. Ms. Stewart, if you are reading this review, you still might need this cookbook for the nourishing comfort food recipes all made with easily understandable techniques. I think even you will appreciate Ms. Coleman’s style.”
—Recommended By Tracey T., Powells.com
I have two favorite games in the kitchen. The first one: Dishwasher Tetris. He doesn’t realize we’re competing, but I always beat him. I can rearrange that appliance to fit every last dirty dish, even dishes Kev swears will never fit. And the second game: Fridge Foraging. (It’s important to note, these might be the only two games in life that I have the upper hand on Kev.) Read more