Episode 29: Should You Kondo Your Kitchen?

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Everyone’s talking about Marie Kondo and her KonMari method of organizing, detailed in her best-selling book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and featured in her runaway Netflix hit, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. Meghan’s a fan and Stacie’s not sold, but they both agree that different rules apply in the kitchen. The catch: they don’t agree on what the rules should be.

What happens when nothing in the kitchen sparks joy? Or when a pared down kitchen leaves little that sparks joy for your kid, who you’d like to see take more ownership in the kitchen? And what about the fact that, as family cooks, our needs are constantly shifting as our children (and their schedules) grow and change?

This week, Stacie and Meghan grapple with the idea that, perhaps, joy is not the best guiding principle for busy family cooks trying to organize and pare down their kitchens.


Joy Versus Usefulness

The don’t have to exist in opposition, but sometimes they just do

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One of the reasons we wanted to talk about Marie Kondo and her KonMari method is because, when it comes to stuff, we’re really different.

Stacie is a self-professed maximalist. That doesn’t mean that she’s necessarily a collector of things. She hates clutter and can easily let things go once they are done bringing her joy, so to speak. That said, she loves being surrounded by well-curated collections, color, beautiful things, patterns (lot of them!), books, and art. If things are clean, organized, and have a home that makes sense and is visually pleasing, she’s fine having stuff. Enjoys it, even.

Meghan, on the other hand, is embracing minimalism more and more with each passing year. She and her family recently downsized — she moved across the country to be able to live more simply and affordably — and is always looking for ways to own fewer things. She also loves color and has a vibrant aesthetic, but most important to her is keeping things pared down and her footprint to a minimum.

That said, both of us love to cook and consider the kitchen central to family life and function — and this means taking a different approach to the way we organize and pare down our kitchen gear than we do everything else.

I feel like many of our kitchen tools serve a purpose beyond just sparking joy, and for me to pare them all down doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.
— Stacie

In this episode, Stacie and Meghan meander through questions we think are important to consider before tearing through your kitchen, Kondo-style:

  • Does kitchen gear have to spark joy for it to be something worth keeping?

  • What if you don’t love to cook and no kitchen tool brings you joy?

  • If it’s important to engage kids in the kitchen (and we think it is), how do you factor in what might spark joy, or just be good to have around, for them?

In the end, the big question ends up being this:

Is joy the right guiding principal for busy home cooks to use when organizing and paring down their kitchens?

We don’t think it is. At least not on its own.

You’ll have to listen for where we land. It’s slightly different for Stacie than it is for Meghan — and where it will probably be for you. But (spoiler alert!), it has to do with reconciling joy and usefulness.

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Do tools help us learn, or vice versa?

An age old chicken-egg (cart-horse?) question

One of the things that’s different about the kitchen is that it’s not just about owning something decorative or that you can choose to use or not use, at least when you are a home cook with a family that needs to be fed multiple times a day, day in and day out. Your kitchen tools are critical for life functioning.

One approach to curating your kitchen is to keep only the tools that fit your repertoire. If you happen to expand your repertoire somehow, you buy new tools accordingly (e.g., you take a cooking class and realize that you love making homemade tortillas and treat yourself to a tortilla press, or you borrow an Instant Pot and decide to get one).

Another approach is to buy tools that you research and/or about which you get credible advice that will make cooking faster, easier, or more efficient. Think: the Instant Pot or microplane. Then use those tools over and over to make them a part of your repertoire.

Which approach works for you likely has to do with how much you love cooking in the first place and whether or not you have a strong sense of what kind of cooking you love to do going into organizing.

Are there other approaches that have worked for you?!

Let us know on Facebook, where you can find us as @didntijustfeed and, if you’re a listener and know the answer to the secret question, you can also join our Listener’s Group to also get exclusive tips, recipes, giveaways, and more!


 

Unexpected Joy (& Un-joy)

How is your kitchen unlike other kitchens

Photo: Joe Lingeman for Kitchn

In this episode’s lighting round, we talk about the things in our kitchen that bring us unexpected joy — and something that brings most other people joy that Meghan just doesn’t get.

WHAT’S IN YOUR KITCHEN THAT YOU COULD NEVER KONDO?

  • Meghan can’t live without her garlic press despite what the rest of us culinary pros think (always the rebel!).

  • Meghan also gets tons of joy from her super deluxe cake decorating set.

  • Stacie loves pulling out her cherry pitter just once a year, and she’ll never get rid of it… or use it more frequently.

  • Stacie also loves her reusable French country-style water bottles with wire bail lids and has a bit of a spatula problem. She has tons of silicone spatulas and a fish spat obsession, and no plans of getting rid of any of them.

WHAT DO PEOPLE SAY SHOULD BE IN EVERY KITCHEN THAT YOU CAN TOTALLY LIVE WITHOUT IN YOURS?

Well, imagine that: Stacie’s stumped. But Meghan’s not. Listen up to learn the one countertop appliance with which she just doesn’t bother. No apologies.


Follow us on Instagram!

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Be sure to follow Stacie @staciebillis and Meghan @stirandscribble both on Instagram, and of course, together, they are @didntijustfeedyou. It’s a party!


Other links in this week’s episode!