Zibby is joined by New York Times bestselling author of The Lazy Genius Way and host of The Lazy Genius podcast Kendra Adachi to talk about her latest project, The Lazy Genius Kitchen. Kendra shares how she applied her thirteen-step Lazy Genius method to offer the top five things you need to do when making decisions about your kitchen. The two also discuss a few of the ways Kendra has applied her teachings in her own home, why her strategies are designed to make the experiences of cooking and eating more fun, and what are some of the new additions to her growing Lazy Genius empire. Check out Zibby’s episode on The Lazy Genius podcast here.


Zibby Owens: Welcome, Kendra. Thanks so much for coming back on “Moms Don’t Have Time to Read Books,” this time to discuss your Lazy Genius Kitchen.

Kendra Adachi: I’m so happy to be here. What a treat. I love being on your show.

Zibby: Thank you, as always, for sanctioning laziness and cutting corners and picking what we can focus on and what we can’t. This Lazy Genius principle is actually genius, so there you go.

Kendra: There you go. Thank you. I’ve never had anyone say it that way before. Thank you for sanctioning laziness. Yes, I’m here for that. I am here for that, always.

Zibby: It’s sort of tongue-in-cheek because of course, you’re not lazy. None of these tactics are lazy. It’s all about deciding what we’re going to invest the effort on.

Kendra: Exactly. None of us can invest all the effort in all the things. You got to choose some to let go of.

Zibby: Before we get into The Lazy Genius Kitchen method, I wanted to go over, as a little primer, some of your Lazy Genius principles which you outline again in this book just for people who might not know some of the things you espouse. Deciding once. Limit your decisioning by making certain choices once and then never again. This is my downfall. I rethink everything all the time. I book a flight, and then I cancel it.

Kendra: You know, that’s the beauty of the principles. There are thirteen of them. Guess what? You don’t have to use all thirteen. If you’re like, I’m going to be lazy about decide once, that is not for me, I’m going to let that one go, you can.

Zibby: I aspire to that. I aspire to doing that right. Some things, I do better, like letting people into my crisis. I clearly let the world into every crisis I have. Setting house rules, building the right routine, living in the season. Being kind to yourself, I could do better. Scheduling rest, I could do better. I love these thirteen principles. They are aspirational and very useful. There you go. Some of them spill over, like essentializing, which is one of the things in The Lazy Genius Kitchen. Start by telling listeners a little bit about, why apply the Lazy Genius principles into kitchen and meal planning and all the rest? Then we’ll go from there.

Kendra: I have been waiting for this book to be written for twenty years of my adult life, seriously. I’m like, can someone teach me? I know that there are cookbooks. This is not a cookbook. I think that’s really important to say from the front. This is not a cookbook. There is a single recipe in the whole thing. No, there’s two. There’s two recipes in the whole book. The point of this is not to give you another cookbook because we all probably have plenty of those. We have access to the internet and lots of recipes. Recipes are amazing. They are so important. What I needed was someone to teach me everything else. I can learn how to cut an onion and cook chicken, but no one is teaching me how to choose the chicken that is best for me in the season that I’m in or how to figure out what day of the week I’m supposed to cook that chicken and keep the flow of all of the three-plus meals a day that we eat, generally, at home. Obviously, if you have a family that you live with, it’s all of those mouths to feed. It’s just so much to manage. I never felt like cookbooks really taught me how to manage everything outside of the actual cooking. I’ve been waiting for this book to be written, waiting and waiting and waiting. I was like, dang it, I guess I’m just going to write it.

The reason that we need this book, that we need The Lazy Genius Kitchen is because there are so many decisions that go into keeping your family fed, keeping your kitchen reasonably ready for the next meal you have to cook. I don’t want to say keeping your kitchen clean because that might actually not be a priority for every person, to keep it clean all the time. You just want it to be functioning and ready for you the next time you need it. There are just so many things that happen in the kitchen. We hear that phrase; the kitchen is the heartbeat of a home. For most of us, I think that our heartbeat, it’s like our kitchen’s in cardiac arrest. It’s too fast. The heartbeat is way too fast. It’s panicking all the time. What I want to do is help people have what they need in the kitchen. Not all of us need the same things in the kitchen. Use what you actually have. Learn to use what you have in the way that makes sense for you. Then you’re going to enjoy your space more. That is the hope of The Lazy Genius Kitchen. I applied all thirteen principles, but a couple of them were big-time heavy-hitters in this book to help people go through the process of Lazy Genius-ing, the verb, Lazy Genius-ing certain parts of your kitchen life so that you can enjoy it more. I love it. It’s illustrated. It’s color. It’s so pretty. It’s a really beautiful resource that I hope that you want to pull out and look through again and again.

Zibby: It’s gorgeous. I love it. I even love, in the back, how you have all the different ingredients for different cuisines all spelled out. That was super helpful. Here are all the things you need. All these cheat sheets. That’s so true. And the combinations of things. You will never go wrong if you pair tomato and mozzarella.

Kendra: You never will. See, that’s the thing. Learning to be in the kitchen is truly a lifelong process. It really is. People who are incredible cooks still are curious in the kitchen. There are so many variables. To expect that you’re going to learn everything all at once is incredibly unrealistic and way too hard on yourself. I always make the joke that I have no idea how to poach anything. I’m a great cook. I love cooking, but I don’t need to know how to poach in order to be a good cook. You don’t have to know everything in order to be good at what you’re doing, and so to give yourselves permission and freedom to focus on your own journey of learning. Yet at any point when you are reading The Lazy Genius Kitchen, you are, at most, probably four hours from the next meal that you have to figure out. It’s always right there. The next one is always right there. Because of that, I definitely wanted there to be a lot of things that were just quick wins, dependable, like lists, resources. We can’t have all philosophy and permission, like, you’re doing great in the kitchen. Everything’s fine. No, you actually do need to learn how to make dinner because you have to do it now. It marries both of those things. I’m glad you mentioned that list because I love that. These are ingredient combinations. They will never ever steer you wrong.

Zibby: Yes, so great, oh, my gosh. I felt like there were all times, especially during the pandemic in the last couple years, where I just was crying being like, I can’t. I am so sick of meals. I can’t do another meal. I can’t think about what to make. Nobody likes anything anyway, or then it’s unhealthy. Then it’s this. Then it’s never over. You can never cross dinner off the list because then dinner comes back.

Kendra: It comes back. It does. It’s like, why even write it down? You’re right. It always comes back. Here’s the thing that I find so, so ironic, and also, it can feel a little bit hopeless, is the fact that dinner always does come back. Yet I think that all of us — I don’t ever like to say all of us, actually. I think most of us, but I would assume all of us, especially people who are listening to this who are mostly likely moms, we do want to connect with our families around the table. We see the value in a meal together, even if it’s take-out, being around food together, being around a table together, and at some points in our cooking lives, that those meals don’t just come from a bag. We’re making them with our family sometimes. The expectation of doing that every meal is unrealistic, so we need to let that go. That is a priority to us. That is something that we see value in that really matters, and so it can feel really helpless when dinner is never over. No one likes what you make. You always have to make another decision. You’re having to choose between something that’s easy or simple or something that’s really nutritious. I feel so, not bad for — my heart opens up for people who have families with different dietary needs. You have this kid with celiac. This kid is allergic to dairy. I’m like, you poor soul. It’s so hard.

It’s so hard to feed people. Yet it can be easier with the right tools. That’s why I want this book to be in as many hands as possible, because I really do believe that you can take the bits that you need from it in the season that you’re in to actually enjoy your kitchen more. You’re not going to walk into it every single day and be Ina or be Martha and just be like, I know what I’m doing, and everything’s effortless all the time. That’s on TV. That’s not even real either. We can’t have that expectation. Yet I do think that we can achieve more groundedness and fulfillment in the kitchen more often than we do now. That’s the thing. It’s just a little bit more than we do now. Let’s just start small. That’s a Lazy Genuis principle. Start small. You don’t have to go from take-out every day or frustration at every dinner to deep fulfillment in a roast chicken seven days a week. That’s not realistic. This book has tools that can take you from, what would happen if we did one day? What does that look like? Just start small. Start to develop those muscles of enjoyment in the kitchen with the right tools. Then you get to focus on that value that we all have of life around the table.

Zibby: You have this five-step method. Prioritize; name what matters. Essentialize; get rid of what’s in the way. Organize; put everything in its place, which I want to talk about. Personalize; feel like yourself. Systematize; stay in the flow. Let’s go back to organize. I feel like I keep moving things around. I keep putting the sippy cups, which I don’t even know why we’re still using because my youngest child is seven and a half — not sippy cups, but the kind that don’t spill so the milk doesn’t go — I have a whole drawer of that even though I keep having — I move it around. It’s here. Then it’s there. Then I can never find it. Then the spices move. The snacks now are lower, but that’s clearly not the right place because now they’re eating more snacks. Help me with the organization. How do you do it? What are the tricks? What should we do?

Kendra: The reason that organize is number three and not number one is because of that. If you organize first — and that’s what we want to do. That’s what we think our solution is. We’re frustrated in our kitchen. It’s like, well, I can’t find anything. Everything’s in the wrong place. Let me reorganize. Usually, we also are very go big or go home. We reorganize the whole ding-dang kitchen at once. It’s not just a drawer. You change one thing, and you have to change everything. Then you’re in the middle of piles of plates and sippy cups in your kitchen. You’re like, why did I get myself into this? That’s a familiar picture that a lot of us can relate to. The reason that organize is number three is because if you organize what you don’t need for purposes that do not serve you, you are just being busy. You’re just making noise. You just said it yourself with the sippy cups. Name what matters. Maybe what matters in your kitchen — you can tell me. Maybe it’s with the way that it operates and how you can find things. You want to say, is your priority that you can find what you need immediately? Is it that everything looks pretty? Is it that you get frustrated by things not matching? I felt that recently. I opened up my cabinet that has the plates and the bowls and all the things. I realized, I was like, okay, we don’t have grown-up plates. Everything we have is plastic, literally. Everything in our kitchen right now is plastic because we got rid of the plates that my husband and I had for twenty years since we got married. They look like they’re twenty-year-old plates, not in a cute way.

Zibby: Vintage.

Kendra: They’re vintage. They’re sort of vintage. I’ve been looking for grown-up plates. I haven’t found anything I really love. Then I just ended up being in a kitchen with all plastic stuff. It was all different colors. It’s different little sets from Target. None of the colors really match or whatever. I was finding the joy of even putting food on a plate, in a bowl, no matter the meal, really discouraging. I was like, I don’t want to eat breakfast off a Peppa Pig plate. I don’t want to do that anymore. I’m a grown-up. This is not feeding my soul. All that to say, there was a time just a few weeks ago where the priority was, I want our dishes to be as functional and pleasing to my kids as they are to me. We got rid of all the chipped character plastic stuff. I had the kids give their input. I’m thinking about getting these bowls. There are pink ones. There are blue ones. They’re a muted pink. That was the priority. We name what matters first. Then essentialize is number two. You get rid of everything else. What you think is that when you replace your set of pots, you get a new stockpot, you get a new knife, you get a whatever, you feel bad getting rid of the thing that is still serviceable, and so you keep both. Then you have more stuff to store. That’s a problem.

Essentialize is step two, which is to get rid of what’s in the way. If my priority is that all of our dishes make my kids happy and me happy and they all sort of look like they belong to the same family, I’m going to get rid of the Peppa plates. I’m going to get rid of the bright-red plates that don’t fit in the muted color palate that we ended up going with from the plates from Target or whatever it is. If I don’t get rid of those, I’m still struggling with the same thing. All I did was add. I didn’t take away what was impacting what actually matters. Once you get rid of what’s in the way, then you organize. Then you put everything in its place. Back to the sippy cups, it’s like, what matters about how my kitchen operates? You could even answer this. Then it’s like, okay, what’s in the way of that? Is it that I’m keeping things that I don’t really need anymore, or certain things? Do I really need these sippy cups? Maybe I’ll keep one just in case we need the one for a trip or something, but I don’t really need a whole cabinet dedicated to these because my kid is seven now. We have a hard time getting rid of things, but then we just keep organizing what we don’t need.

Zibby: I have to say, getting rid of all the plastic that you were talking about, those cute little plates and everything, that was a huge milestone. I feel like that was a couple years ago. Part of it is selfish because if you have the plastic, then you can’t microwave. I feel like the microwave, which I shouldn’t admit, is a huge weapon in my arsenal of every —

Kendra: — Oh, admit it. The microwave is amazing. Everybody, use your microwave.

Zibby: I know I shouldn’t be using the microwave, but I use the microwave. I’m sorry, but I do. Anyway, you can’t use it on plastic plates. That would undermine my efficiency efforts, but I see your point. Kendra, last time you were on this podcast, The Lazy Kitchen was just about to come out. Maybe it had just come out or something like that. Since then, it’s become a best-selling book and New York Times best-seller. You have a podcast, “The Lazy Kitchen Podcast,” which is super popular, and all sorts of followers and all this stuff. How has this changed your life? When you are bopping around your kitchen, how does it change anything? Does it change anything, or not?

Kendra: That’s a great question. The book that comes out this year is The Lazy Genius Kitchen. Then the first one was The Lazy Genius Way. That book, I still, honestly, can’t get over that it was a New York Times best-seller. I still am moved and humbled that it continues to sell steadily every single week.

Zibby: That’s amazing.

Kendra: It really is. Publishing is — you know because you talk to authors constantly. You know the arbitrary nature of publishing in many ways. One author selling ten thousand books is incredible because they’re a first-time author or they don’t have a big platform or whatever. Ten thousand books is actually a significant number of books. Then if you’re Michelle Obama and you sell ten thousand books, that is a severe disappointment. Obviously, that’s a very extreme example. There is such a spectrum of what it means to be a successful author. I’m a very competitive person. I’m a recovering perfectionist. I can be really hard on myself with unreasonable expectations. That is why principle thirteen is to be kind to yourself in The Lazy Genuis Way. All that to say, I think that in some ways, the success of The Lazy Genuis Way was so beyond what I hoped that it has almost grounded and anchored me in my life and the ordinariness of it even more. I don’t even know how to say this without sounding weird. I believe so much in being the same person everywhere I go. That’s just part of my marrow, is to be the same human. When people meet me in person who have followed me on the internet, they’re like, you’re exactly the same. It’s okay if you meet someone that you follow on the internet and you meet them in person and they’re not exactly the same. That is okay because different people have different energies. They have different boundaries that they set in how they share themselves online. It’s not that I am better, so to speak, because you’re meeting the same person. It’s just what I know to do. Everybody has different ways that they know how to do things.

All that to say, I think that the success has actually been like, man, I feel just really humbled to be a voice that encourages people in their lives. When I get messages about, these principles changed my life in this small way, this thing, it’s just really honoring. It makes me want to not — I was going to say pay attention to how I can even live my life better. It’s not really about that. It’s that I want to continue to create content and resources and help for people that is reflective of an ordinary life because that is what most of us are living. I do live a very ordinary life. If I get too untethered from that, if I get too distracted by what actually is unimportant in this work, which is any clout or credibility — it’s not that it’s unimportant completely. It matters. It’s very helpful and awesome and humbling or whatever, but that’s not the most important thing at all. That’s not the most important thing. If I get too untethered from the ordinariness of my life, then my work is no longer helpful to people. Most of us are just doing our best. We’re tired of dinner that’s on repeat. We still have laundry. We still have homework and kids. My sixth-grade boy wants to try out for the track team. It’s going to change our whole lives if he makes it because practice is every day after school until five o’clock. I’m like, what are we going to do, you guys? We all have these things we have to keep up with. It is just a sincere honor to be able to find tools and systems and permission for people to live that way, as more themselves with more margin and more life and more enjoyment. I don’t know if that’s exactly the question you were asking or the answer that you expected, but it’s the answer that I’m giving. It is such a humbling thing to have a book be what this book has been. It really has just been an honor.

Zibby: I had no expectations. I was just curious. Thank you for sharing it. It’s funny, when you build a brand around things being a certain way, you can’t then change the whole way.

Kendra: Absolutely. Exactly. It would be very incongruent.

Zibby: Yes, it would be very off-brand. You would be found out, probably. You’ve now expanded the whole Lazy Genius brand into other areas. You have nail polish. That’s so cool. I love that, the Olive & June

Kendra: Zibby, it is so ridiculous.

Zibby: I’m looking at this site. I was like, wait, these are great colors. I totally want the Lazy Genius mani system from Olive & June. That is awesome.

Kendra: It’s really fun.

Zibby: I’m going to give that as a gift, by the way. That’s really awesome. Excellent Mother’s Day. How did that come about? What else is up your sleeve?

Kendra: Oh, man. The internet gets a bad rap, as we all know. I am obsessed so much with the internet because it has connected me with people that I would never be able to be connected with. That’s true for all of us. I just became friends with the founder of Olive & June. I heard about — it was in April or May in 2020. We were all at home. We were all very sad. I was like, I don’t know what to do with my days. We all felt really untethered even though we were at home. I’ve never cared about my nails. In The Lazy Genius Way, I actually write in print, I’m lazy about my nails. That’s one of the things I’m lazy about. I don’t care. I ordered a system because I thought, well, why not? We’re in a pandemic. Just do it. I loved it because it is sort of the Lazy Genius version of nails. The system comes with all the tools that you need but nothing you don’t. It’s just the essentials. They give the right order. That’s another Lazy Genius principle, is to go in the right order. They tell you what order to do things. It just felt very at home to me, how it worked. The colors are beautiful. The founder saw my post about the nail polish. We connected really quickly. She’s great. She’s become a friend. Then over the last few months, she was like, “I think we need to do a collab. We need a Lazy Genius color.” It turned into a trio. There’s a TLG. A lot of their colors are initials named after people. There’s a TLG for The Lazy Genius. There’s a bright red/orange that’s called You’re Doing Great. I say that a lot. You’re doing great. It’s a pep talk nail polish. And then this beautiful rosy tan called Start Small. It’s just so fun. I made the joke the other day that anybody who knew me in high school would be floored by this because Kendra was not what you would call fashion-forward in any scenario, in any universe. The fact that I have a nail polish named after me, it’s utter ridiculousness, but so much fun. It’s so much fun.

Zibby: I feel like if I were to a Moms Don’t Have Time To nail polish, it would just be the quick-dry topcoat.

Kendra: Right.

Zibby: That would be my nail polish. Wait, what were you like in high school?

Kendra: Oh, man. I wore overalls most of the time, and not cool overalls.

Zibby: Where were you? Where did you grow up? Where’d you go to high school?

Kendra: I grew up in North Carolina. I’ve lived in the same city my whole life, where I am now. I was born three miles from where I’m sitting. I see my kindergarten teacher in line at TJ Maxx sometimes. It’s kind of wild. I grew up in North Carolina. I was homeschooled for actually freshman and sophomore year of high school. Then I started going to high school as a junior. I don’t recommend that plan. I don’t recommend that at all. It was so like, I don’t know how to be a person. I don’t know how to do this. I didn’t know what to wear. I always was nervous to be seen, honestly, which is kind of ironic considering my job now. I was a very hidden person. Overalls. I didn’t wear makeup. I had a terrible haircut. I was voted most dependable in high school, Zibby. That shows my aura in that school. I was a non-makeup-ed, overall-wearing, dependable person, which is actually a little bit on brand right now.

Zibby: There are worse things.

Kendra: There are worse things. There are plenty of them. It is congruent with who I am minus the nail polish part. That’s the piece that’s like, well, we didn’t see that coming from Kendra, but here we are.

Zibby: I have to go pull out my yearbook. I don’t even remember what I was voted or whatever. I’ll pull it out later. Not that I have time for this.

Kendra: I want to guess what that is. I know you had to be voted. You were on the ballot for multiple things, I bet. I bet your name was in the .

Zibby: I think it was some joke about what a bad driver I was. By the time I graduated, I had failed my road test multiple times, gotten in accidents. I don’t have a lot of spatial awareness. I have strengths. They do not lie in that area. I’m still walking into people all the time. I have no spatial — I can’t tell when someone’s close. I’m constantly walking into people. It’s terrible. It’s a weakness. I’m literally impaired in that area. If I just sit here on Zoom, nobody will know. Anyway, just tell everybody about your podcast, also, really quickly. Then I know we’re almost out of time.

Kendra: It’s called “The Lazy Genuis Podcast.” Everything is The Lazy Genius something, so it’s pretty easy to find. The podcast is “The Lazy Genuis Podcast.” We’re over two hundred and fifty episodes now, which is so fun. It’s so much fun. The episodes come out every Monday. They’re around twenty minutes. They’re really small. Short. That’s not the word. They’re really short. The titles are really specific. You can just scan the archive and go, oh, that sounds good. There’s things that are super practical, like how to Lazy Genuis kids’ chores and how to organize paper in your house, how to deal with homework, how to deal with changing over kids’ clothes, all kinds of things, adult screentime, kid screentime. There are tons of things about time management in the kitchen. There’s also some permission-giving stuff about relationships and when you’re trying too hard at the wrong things. It kind of covers the gamut, but all through that lens of being a genius about the things that matter and lazy about the things that don’t to you. That’s the whole thing. We all have different things that matter, so we need tools that work for everybody no matter what they choose.

Zibby: That’s so cool. I know that you’re also doing a “go into other people’s kitchen” thing on Instagram for different influencers, which is a great idea. I feel like you totally have a TV show coming. Do you? Is it already in the works?

Kendra: No, it’s not already in the works, but we shot one that — when is this episode coming out? Do you know?

Zibby: I don’t know.

Kendra: You don’t know. Okay, great. It’s totally fine. We did, we basically shot a TV show, a self-funded, crowdfunded TV show that won’t be on TV. It’ll be on the internet. It’s called The Lazy Genius Kitchen. I don’t know that I’ve ever been more excited or more proud of anything I’ve made. I love The Lazy Genius Way, the book. I love The Lazy Genius Kitchen, the book. I’m obsessed with both of them. This series, it is so sparkly. It is so fun. It is so helpful. They’re twenty-minute episodes. It’s a real helpful, so-much-fun show. I just cannot wait for people to see it. Those will start to be released mid-April. We made a six-episode series. I can’t wait. I can’t wait for people to see them. It’ll be so fun.

Zibby: That’s amazing. Congratulations. I love it.

Kendra: Thank you.

Zibby: Kendra, thanks for coming on. Thanks for the Lazy Genius everything. I’m about to go pick up my Lazy Genius mani system right now because I haven’t done my nails since before the pandemic. Not kidding at all. Not a joke.

Kendra: You’ll be so happy when it comes. It’s going to be so much fun to do your nails.

Zibby: My mother will be happy. Every time she sees me, she’s absolutely horrified. She’s had the same manicure lady since I was born, this red — anyway, whatever. Have a great day. Thanks so much for coming back on.

Kendra: Thank you for having me, Zibby.

Zibby: Buh-bye.



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