I was asked recently if hashtagging my meals using #minimalism and #simplicity on Instagram is an accurate portrayal of minimalism when my meals sometimes feature 10 ingredients or more. That couldn’t possibly fall under minimalism… could it?
Well, maybe… maybe not. It depends on your understanding of minimalism.
The official definitions appear to be primarily based on the movement within the art world. They are as follows;
- a movement in sculpture and painting which arose in the 1950s, characterised by the use of simple, massive forms.
- an avant-garde movement in music characterised by the repetition of very short phrases which change gradually, producing a hypnotic effect.
- the deliberate lack of decoration or adornment in style or design.
None of the above assist us mere mortals in defining the current trend of what it means to be living a minimalist life. The third one kind of flirts with the idea but doesn’t quite hit the spot if ya know what I’m sayin’.
For me, it means living a simple life. But what does THAT even mean though? Well, I’ve broken it down. A simple life is one that includes;
- Owning very few possessions, especially decorative items such as travel mementoes or knickknacks – they become pretty dust collectors and nothing more.
- A small and functional wardrobe featuring high-quality items with less expensive basics – wearing a kind of uniform is a great way to live, reducing decision-making time each morning.
- A simple diet made up of the essentials required for optimal health – no sugar, dairy, wheat, soy, legumes, nuts, seeds or alcohol.
- A small, functional and neat apartment which supports the above with minimal furnishings – when you don’t have the place to store things, you don’t accumulate them.
- Quality relationships and connections – if it’s not enriching, transforming or bringing peace and harmony to your life, don’t engage.
- Taking care that each action and choice I make is one that will serve me, my health and what I am up to in life – as well as being responsible and aware of when it will not.
So, for the sake of science, I’m going to break down a simple diet through the lens of minimalism. Below you will find my regular shopping list. This does not mean that I buy these items each week – I wouldn’t be able to eat all of it if I tried.
Also, keep in mind some of these items are quite seasonal – asparagus is a main star during spring and the beginning of summer, as are green or yellow string beans, and in winter they all but disappear. While in winter root vegetables including beetroot and pumpkin take centre stage.
Herbs and spices; garlic, turmeric, ginger, paprika, thyme, sage, rosemary, dill, parsley.
- Fresh when possible, dried or ground when not.
Meat/protein; aged steak, chicken (breast, wings, thighs), lamb (various cuts), boar ribs, deer, eggs.
- Angus rib-eye or New York steaks are my favourites but I wouldn’t scoff at a decent limousine either.
- Seasonal high-quality meat from a butcher, grass fed and finished when possible.
Vegetables; spinach, kale, avocado, zucchini, asparagus, broccoli, avocado, cauliflower, sweet potato (purple, pink, white or orange), beetroot, pumpkin, carrot, parsnip, leek, string beans.
Salad dressings/oils; lemons, apple cider vinegar, coconut oil (for frying and baking), olive oil from Greece/Italy/Spain (for drizzling on salads).
Other; quality olives, sauerkraut, pickles, jalapenos, coconut cream, red curry paste.
- ALWAYS check ingredients to ensure no nasties – never trust the front of the jar/box. If buying olives in a jar the ingredients must only be olives, salt and water (sometimes lemon juice). The best coconut cream should be minimum 85% coconut and 15% water.
Tea; sencha, gyokuro, jasmine, pu-erh, oolong, rooibos (looseleaf only).
- In summer I add rocket, capsicum, red onion, cherry tomato and coriander/basil and make salads drizzled with apple cider vinegar (ACV), lemon juice and olive oil.
- In winter I stock up on beetroot, pumpkin and different types of carrots (especially purple) and onions for baking.
- Simple chicken soup/broth; chicken wings, carrot, parsnip, celery root, leek. I make enough for 4-5 days. If I tire of it, I add an egg and lemon juice to transform it into a Greek-style chicken soup. You know, living on the edge.
All in all, we have approximately 40-45 ingredients on the list. Each week I buy around 10 items, give or take a couple if I’ve recently run out of a staple such as tea, oils or spices.
This means that each week I have a limited number of items to work with, and I’m not over-crowding my pantry, fridge or digestive tract. One week I might be eating a lot of roasted broccoli and cauliflower and next week it might be zucchini and asparagus. If the weather is warmer I might be more inclined to favour smashing salads all week so I buy what’s required for that.
The benefits are many. The obvious is feeling and looking good. The rest of the benefits are not so obvious.
- While I still enjoy my food immensely, I no longer think about it as a reward or punishment – it’s simply fuel that supports my body and spirit as I go through life.
- It may seem like a lot of effort on my part to eat like this 24/7 but in reality, it takes me about 30 minutes per day to prepare my meals, sometimes less.
- I am no longer a slave to food or use it to deal with feelings or emotions and I don’t use it as a time-filler – no more going to the fridge when bored.
- My fridge and pantry are emptied out regularly and I’m able to reduce my waste significantly, which means more dollar dollar bills y’all.
- I don’t put time or energy into considering each day what I’m going to eat, where and when – I already know. It’s routine and it’s easy.
At the core, eating like this has given me freedom inside discipline. I used to think of discipline as bad or restrictive – a punishment. Now I understand that discipline gives you the freedom to live your life as desired.
Minimalism is also a discipline. If you apply some principles of it, your life will transform in ways you couldn’t have imagined.