Buy more consciously, throw away less – minimalism in cooking helps to avoid food waste. Learn how to implement minimalism in the kitchen in this post.
What is Minimalism?
Minimalism has nothing to do with compulsive saving or doing without. I understand minimalism as the joyful restriction to the necessary. You own and buy only what you really need. Experience shows that this is usually less than you think. Or have you ever worn everything you had with you on vacation?
Minimalism has many benefits. Here are just a handful that come to mind of the top of my head:
- You consume more consciously.
- You have a greater appreciation for things.
- You are grateful for what you have.
- You save a lot of money.
- You live more sustainably (in many cases).
- You have more space and time for what you really like to do.
Get an Overview of your Supplies
For most people, minimalism starts with cleaning out. It’s the same with minimalist shopping and cooking: First, get an overview of the food that’s in your fridge and pantry.
Clean out the refrigerator completely. This is a good opportunity to give everything a thorough cleaning. Put closed packages of long-lasting food in the back and things that need to be consumed soon in the front. Consider the cooling zones in the fridge – dairy is good in the top compartments, sauces in the door, vegetables and fruit in the bottom drawer. Are there foods that keep going bad for you? Cross them off your grocery list for a while.
Educate yourself on how to store fresh produce. Some vegetables, such as carrots, like it airy, while others are more comfortable sealed airtight. Sliced avocados will keep for several days in an airtight can, especially if you leave the pit on the fruit.
Pantry and storage closet
Again, take all the food off the shelves and sort it. Even very neat people will be surprised at what is hiding in the depths of their pantry. The risk of even dry foods like pasta and rice spoiling is higher the larger your supplies are. Take a photo of all your supplies so that when you go shopping, you know what you don’t need to buy for now.
In the future, get in the habit of not stocking more than one spare package of a food item. If you shop weekly, you won’t use up more and will keep track of your supplies.
Minimalism in Shopping
I have gotten into the habit of only shopping for foods that I can use up within the next week or two. The things I buy take up less space, they don’t go bad and I spend less money – a win-win-win! Especially with fresh produce like bread, fruit, vegetables, dairy, meat and fish, less is more! I’d rather take a walk to the market or supermarket on my Thursday lunch break to re-buy something missing than throw away precious food that has gone bad. The eternal tip of not going shopping hungry helps here too. With an empty stomach, you lose your realism and buy more than you can consume.
Minimalism in Cooking
Minimalist shopping reduces the amount of food that can spoil in your home. Cooking minimally prevents you from throwing away food that has already been prepared. Minimalist cooking for me consists of three components:
- Using unprocessed and mostly plant-based foods,
- Create dishes from a handful of ingredients,
- Prepare components separately.
The last point is especially important if you are cooking for kids. Children like to be able to identify the components of a dish and eat (or leave) them separately. This has the advantage that you can better store prepared food and use it for other dishes.
So instead of a vegetable dish with peppers, millet and chickpeas all mixed together, you could cook the millet and chickpeas separately and offer the peppers as a raw dish. Get in the habit of saving mini leftovers, too. Three servings of leftovers from the toddler make a nice snack in between meals. I’ve gotten into the habit of cooking several servings ahead of time and freezing them. That way, nothing goes bad either and I always have a healthy, home-cooked meal on hand.
Minimalism in Eating
Minimalist shopping and cooking is now followed by minimalist eating. What can that be?
I have two impulses for you: Eat what’s there. Not in the mood for potatoes from the day before? Instead of ordering a pizza, practice gratitude. And eat what’s there. What happiness it is to have something to eat! Nothing left? Are you sure? Turn a wavy cucumber, dry bread and leftover cheese into a crispy skillet sandwich with a little olive oil and rosemary. You don’t need more than three ingredients for a delicious, quick and filling dish. Look around and get inventive!
What foods do you buy too much of? Can you imagine cooking minimalist(er)? I look forward to your comments!
About the Author of this Guest Article
Marion studied philosophy, literature and religious studies at the University of Leipzig and taught German as a foreign language for a few years at universities in Russia and Kazakhstan. Today she lives with her daughter in Antwerp and writes about a simple and happy life (with children) in her blog Frugales Glück. Her topics are minimalism, sustainability, plant-based nutrition and intuitive eating.