Simple Eating: Learn to Save Money, Reduce Stress + Spend Less Time in the Kitchen
Decide to rethink eating patterns.
This would be the first step to living a simpler life and increase better eating patterns. We should strive to believe in this simple life philosophy: do more of what you love and let go of the rest. So the first step is start thinking about how you approach food and ask yourself how you can change to better suit my lifestyle.
Inspired by many of the lessons I’m learning from minimalism, I decided to take a new, simpler approach to meals. Actually, I decided to stop worrying about ‘meals’ altogether.
Instead, I decided to focus on what I like to eat and created a simple system: a food uniform and capsule pantry.
HOW DOES SIMPLE EATING WORK?
The concept is similar to a clothing uniform and a capsule wardrobe.
If you’re not familiar with the concept, a capsule wardrobe is a core wardrobe of key pieces – your favourite jeans, a classic black skirt, a white button down shirt – that forms the basis of your wardrobe. You add bonus items, like accessories or trendy pieces, to round out your wardrobe and complete your outfits.
Although you may have less items of clothing, you are loving and wearing everything you own, so getting dressed is easier and you look better.
Your uniform is your key look – like skinny jeans + oversized tops + boots – a look you love and can turn to on any day and know you will feel good.
The same lessons can be applied to food:
- Keep it simple
- Choose quality over quantity
- Look for functionality (with food, is it healthy and balancing out your diet?)
- And most important, love everything you choose to include.
MY SIMPLE EATING DIET
Let me share my food ‘uniform’. It usually consists of a big salad base (I love spinach/rocket and/or kale), with fresh vegetables added in – asparagus, fennel, green beans, peppers, sweet potatoes, onions – whatever I have on hand. I also like to add beans and/or nuts.
Next, I usually add a small portion of protein. I’ve stopped making meat the hero of my meals, instead vegetables are the core and I add small bits of meat of flavour. Quality is especially important here. I get grass fed organic beef, Tasmanian smoked salmon, or amazing German sausages from the mall. Hard boiled free range eggs work well too.
Eating less meat means you can afford the best and it is good for your waistline.
I usually cook a full portion twice a week and then eat bits of leftovers throughout the week.
Lastly, I accessorise! I add small bits of yummy extras like fresh fruit (I love mangoes when they are in season), cheese, or olives. Maybe a slice of fresh bread if I feel like the meal needs bulking up. Add a drizzle of quality olive oil, salt and pepper, and I’m done!
That is what I now eat at least 80% o the time. In the colder seasons, my uniform switches to a stir fry, because I crave something a big warmer and more filling, but the concept is the same; the real secret is to buy simple, tasty healthy food that you enjoy eating.
I could easily eat a plate of asparagus, with a few sundried tomatoes, a hard boiled egg, and some nuts. Or a salad with smoked salmon, fresh mango and rye bread. Spinach with green beans and weet potato. Everything is fresh, healthy and goes together
HOW SIMPLE EATING HAS CHANGED MY LIFE
Because I’m not planning meals, I rarely make grocery lists. I’m not worried about forgetting anything because nothing is essential. Instead, I know I need salad, 2-3 vegetables (whatever is in season), protein (usually eggs + one other item a week), fresh baked bread, and then cheese/fruits/nuts/jams/etc if I need it. If I forget something it’s not a deal breaker.
Another important part of simple eating is buying a lot less food than you think you need. Instead, I focus on eating everything in my fridge and cupboards. Before simplifying my eating habits, I had always had tons of ‘just in case’ stock in the pantry and I was always throwing away a lot of fresh food; I would buy something for a specific recipe but then have no use for the rest of it.
The results? My grocery bills have shrunk considerably and I have almost no food wastage. As a reference, I spend about $50/week to feed two people (and I live in Australia, where costs are considerably higher than in the States.) I don’t skimp on quality – I’ll pay $13 for quality goat’s cheese or $7 for organic rye bread. (In fact, I bought both these items this weekend.) But I don’t buy a lot of food and I waste nothing, so my overall costs stay low.
Although my intention was not to ‘go on a diet’, I’ve lost the last 5kgs that I’ve been hanging onto for years. I think this is because I’ve made vegetables the core of my diet and also because eating has now become simple. I rarely spend more than 10 minutes cooking/preparing my meals, so I don’t give into lazy takeaways as often as I used too. I also eat regularly and don’t skip meals.
Lastly, the number one benefit of simple eating is how little time and effort I spend cooking and food shopping. I’m usually in and out of the supermarket in less than 15 minutes, I don’t plan meals, and I am in and out of the kitchen in no time. This is time I now spend with my loved ones, writing or looking after myself.
I’ve been eating this way for about two year now and I feel so freer (and happier) in the kitchen!!
Edited by: Samantha Equere