When it comes to minimalism, diet isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. However, it is such a crucial part of our day to day life that many people look at ways that they can simplify the way they eat, which can then affect the rest of your life too.
Less food shopping, less food waste and the potential to become healthier are all parts of minimalist eating, though what this is in reality is very different for everyone. For some that may be following a vegan or vegetarian diet, whilst for others the idea of carrot sticks and fresh fruits isn’t so appealing.
Whichever way you want to eat, you can usually adapt it to suit your minimalist mindset. We should all be mindful of what we put into our bodies, and a minimalist diet makes it easier to do that.
What Is a Minimalist Diet?
The level of discernment we use when deciding what to declutter is the same level of discernment we should be using to decide what to ingest.
It’s our responsibility to guard our bodies and nourish them with the things they need to function at their best. A minimalist diet (as with all things minimalist) is the simplest and most straightforward way to do that.
Cooking is something most of us have to do almost every day. But occasionally we become reluctant to do it because it requires too much time, too much attention, and too much effort.
However, a minimalistic approach to meal time ensures that you don’t have to dedicate as much time or energy to putting a good meal on the table. The simplicity and nutritional value of minimalist meals make them perfect for parents and kids, or busy professionals.
Once you get the hang of minimalist food choice you’ll readily use it in your everyday life. That’s because it narrows down the choice factor that makes mentally sorting through food options such a pain. Decision-fatigue is never fun, so let’s avoid future headaches and explore what a minimalist diet is.
Minimalist diet – Explained
There are several aspects to a minimalist diet. In a nutshell, a minimalist diet is a very simple method of meal prep that endeavors to craft flavorful and nutritious meals with only a few core ingredients.
As minimalists, we should only incorporate things into our lives that are conducive to a healthy and productive living. Few things can contribute to a healthy living as much as what you eat. Therefore, we try our best, like a lot of people, to consume meals that are well-rounded and nourishing, but to do it minimally.
That’s why minimalist meals only consist of basic ingredients. Too often we consume food with no idea of what’s in it. Even if you read the ingredients, “proprietary blends” and ten-syllable words keep us from knowing the whole truth about what’s really in our food.
The benefit of making your food out of simple core ingredients is the comfort of knowing exactly what’s going in your body. This familiarity will also allow you to accurately follow up on any health concerns you might have in the midst of your transition to minimalist eating.
To place a quantitative standard on a minimalist meal (for the number people) minimalist meals generally consist of 5 ingredients or less. (Note: A wide selection of soups and pasta dishes meet this criteria.) There are plenty of ways to tailor a minimalist diet to your life—get a little creative!
Minimalists might choose to stick to an essential, balanced triad of a meat, a grain, and a vegetable for every meal. Or they might choose to only cook what’s presently in the kitchen and to only make scheduled trips to the grocery store to replenish.
How often you go to the grocery store is an important factor to your diet. A good minimalist diet pars those trips down to a minimum. There are a couple ways you can make your presence at the store sparse while still enjoying mouth watering meals consistently.
How To: Eat Like a Minimalist!
What’s the secret to a minimalist kitchen? Simplicity, of course! Specifically, it’s keeping your panty and refrigerator full of basic foods. Just like your closet is stocked with an assortment of basic core pieces meant for mixing and matching, your kitchen should work much the same way.
The idea is different combinations of simple foods. This ensures that all your food is constantly being used and nothing’s just sitting around.
How often do we buy special ingredients for certain meals then never touch them again until they go bad? Experiment and find out how many different ways you can flip one food (it’s honestly astonishing).
But what are basic core foods? They include, but aren’t limited to:
- Jars of pasta sauce
- ~3 of your favorite fruits
- Rice (or quinoa)
- Tortillas (or rice wraps)
- Common veggies: Onions, potatoes, lettuce, peppers, carrots, tomatoes
- Common meats: hot dogs, bologna, chicken, turkey, beef steak
- Common condiments: ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, tartar sauce, soy sauce, vanilla extract
- Common spices: salt, pepper, sugar/brown sugar, thyme, rosemary, garlic powder, onion powder, cinnamon, oregano, cumin
You don’t need everything on this list. Of the foods listed, only invest in the ones that you actually like. You also don’t need only what’s on this list, but this is a good foundation. Add or subtract to this list as it fits you but think practically.
By keeping our kitchen simple, we keep our eating habits simple. Minimalist recipes make cooking easier, quicker, and healthier, and make meal-prep day efficient and manageable.
Meal time can be hectic so even if you’re not a minimalist you can benefit from some of these minimal kitchen to-do’s.
Only buy what you need
If you do have to buy outside of the basics, stick to buying only as many as you need. You might be tempted to buy extra “just in case”, but when you don’t use the extra it’ll likely sit around in your kitchen and eventually go to waste if you don’t use it at a later time.
Shop with intention—purchase extra ingredients with the intention of using all of whatever you buy. Shopping that way saves you money as well.
Write things down
You don’t have to stow it all away in your head. When you successfully execute a genius recipe (which is destined to happen!) write it down so you don’t have to fumble around with your memory at a later date.
If you don’t want another notebook sitting around the house, document it on your phone. Then recipes are that much easier to repeat.
Eat the same meal repeatedly
It isn’t broken so why fix it? If you enjoy them, there’s nothing wrong with cooking the same meals back-to-back in order to make sure all your leftover ingredients get used. Warming up leftovers from the previous night is also encouraged.
Another option for yesterday’s leftovers is to remix them into a different meal! This skill allows you to stretch your food so much further.
A great example is a baked/rotisserie chicken. Even with a family, we rarely finish off a whole baked chicken. Put it in the refrigerator and warm it up in the oven the next day. (Note: You’re just warming it up, not cooking it more.
Don’t leave it in too long or you risk it drying out or burning.) Fry or bake the chicken skin until it gets crispy and use it as a garnish on a salad or sandwich (or eat it by itself—crunchy!). Pull the rest of the meat from the bone and shred it in a bowl.
Then you can do a number of different things with it:
- BBQ bacon sandwich: (1) Toss the shredded chicken in BBQ sauce. (2) Spread shredded BBQ chicken on bread slice or bun. (3) Optional: Melt on cheese and add bacon. Or add lettuce and tomato. Add your favorite combination of any two additional ngredients (remember we’re aiming for 5 ingredients or less).
- Chicken salad wrap: (1) Mix chicken with mayonnaise, dijon mustard, and finely-chopped celery (and spices to taste), or just mix the chicken in your favorite salad dressing (aim for a thick dressing like caesar). (2) Put chicken salad on a tortilla, along with lettuce, tomato, cucumber, avocado, zucchini, carrot, red cabbage (we can make an exception to the 5 rule for some nutritious veggies). (3) Wrap up your chicken salad filling in your tortilla and lightly sear outside if preferred.
- Put shredded chicken: on a salad; in a soup; sprinkle it on a creamy pasta dish; make chicken tacos; put it on a pizza; or in a minimal chicken pot pie.
You should only eat leftovers that are less than a full 4 days old. Anything older than that is putting yourself at risk for foodborne illness. The great news is that if you want to save something long-term you can freeze it.
Reduce the waste you produce
Purchasing minimally-packaged food is an awesome habit to adopt. Fruits and veggies are unpackaged so naturally they’re the best choice for reducing waste! Also, use totes when you go shopping to combat the need to bring home disposable bags.
You can eat great and save the planet?
The aim is for minimally processed food. Minimally processed food is food that has been modified in some way solely for the purpose of its preservation, and in a way that doesn’t affect the nutritional value of the food.
If you don’t have access to minimally processed food, don’t worry, stick to the idea! Limit your consumption of processed and unhealthy foods by reducing or eliminating takeout/fast food from your diet.
Make your meals filling
By using hearty ingredients, you get fuller faster and don’t have to eat as much. Starches and grains are heavy foods. Potatoes, pasta dishes, rice-based dishes, breads, and thick, creamy sauces.
Keep your kitchen tidy
Having food items and snacks laying around on counters promotes unhealthy eating habits and more frequent snacking throughout the day.
Keeping all your utensils and appliances in their proper place keeps your cooking experience frictionless and quick. No clutter also means more cooking space. Not to mention that a dirty kitchen attracts pests.
Keep your kitchen clean and organized when not in use. While you’re cooking, use the old “wash as you go” rule: at times when your food doesn’t need to be tended to and your hands are free, wash the dirty dishes that you’ve already created.
Continue to quickly wash dirty dishes as you make them, instead of waiting until the end to tackle a boatload of dishes.
What does minimalist eating mean?
Minimalist eating refers to the concept of simplifying one’s diet to reduce decision-making, streamline meal preparation, and potentially improve health.
It’s based on the philosophy of minimalism, which advocates for reducing excess and focusing on what’s essential. Here’s what minimalist eating might look like:
1. Simplifying Meal Choices: This could mean eating the same healthy breakfast each day, or having a specific roster of meals that you rotate through each week. The goal is to reduce the number of decisions you need to make about food.
2. Focusing on Whole Foods: Minimalist eating often involves focusing on whole, unprocessed foods. This not only tends to be healthier but also simplifies shopping, as you’re focusing on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, proteins, and healthy fats rather than a wide array of processed items.
3. Reducing Waste: Minimalist eating also includes the idea of reducing waste. This could mean buying only what you need, using all parts of the food (like using vegetable scraps for broth), and composting food waste.
4. Mindful Eating: Taking a minimalist approach to eating can also involve being more mindful about your food. This means eating without distractions, listening to your hunger and fullness cues, and taking the time to enjoy your food.
5. Meal Prep: Preparing meals ahead of time simplifies the cooking process and can save time throughout the week.
It’s important to note that minimalist eating isn’t about deprivation or restriction. It’s about making food choices simpler and more intentional. The exact approach can vary widely depending on the individual’s lifestyle, preferences, and nutritional needs.
What are the benefits of following a minimalist diet?
A minimalist diet can offer numerous benefits, starting with simplicity and ease. One of the primary principles of minimalism is to eliminate the unnecessary, allowing you to focus more on what’s truly important.
When applied to diet, this can mean reducing the complexity of meals, shopping lists, and meal preparation. Simplified meal choices and meal prep can lead to less stress and save valuable time, creating more space for other important activities in life.
Moreover, a minimalist diet often encourages the consumption of whole, unprocessed foods, which can contribute significantly to better health.
Whole foods are typically higher in important nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, and fiber, compared to highly processed foods. Therefore, adopting a minimalist diet can make it easier to nourish your body with the nutrients it needs for optimal health.
Additionally, a minimalist diet can help reduce food waste. By buying and preparing only what’s necessary, there’s less chance of food going unused or spoiling. This not only saves money but is also better for the environment.
A minimalist diet also can promote more mindful eating habits. When you simplify your food choices and focus more on the quality of your meals, you’re likely to pay more attention to your hunger and fullness cues, enjoy your food more, and may naturally avoid overeating.
Lastly, for those seeking weight management or healthier lifestyle choices, a minimalist diet can offer a clear, streamlined path towards these goals. By focusing on simple, wholesome foods and reducing the intake of processed items, it’s possible to achieve a more balanced and healthy diet.
What are the best diets for minimalists?
Minimalism is all about simplicity, intentionality, and reducing excess. It’s not only about decluttering your physical environment but can also apply to your lifestyle, including your diet.
Here are a few diet approaches that may align well with a minimalist lifestyle:
1. Whole Foods Plant-Based Diet: This diet focuses on eating whole, unprocessed, and primarily plant-based foods. It simplifies shopping and cooking since you’re focusing on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, seeds, and nuts.
2. Minimalist Meal Prep: Regardless of what diet you follow, adopting a minimalist meal prep approach can simplify your life. This means prepping simple, healthy meals at the start of each week. This approach often involves using the same basic ingredients in multiple meals, reducing waste and shopping time.
3. Intermittent Fasting: This isn’t a diet in the traditional sense; it’s more about when you eat rather than what you eat. Intermittent fasting simplifies your day by reducing the number of meals you need to plan, prepare, and clean up after.
4. Mediterranean Diet: This diet is based on the traditional foods that people used to eat in countries like Italy and Greece back in 1960. It’s known to be one of the healthiest diets in the world and is quite simple to follow. It primarily includes foods like fruits, vegetables, seafood, olive oil, and whole grains.
5. Minimalist Mono Diet: This involves eating just one type of food (like potatoes, bananas, etc.) or foods from one food group for a period. This type of diet should be followed with care and under supervision, as it may not provide all the necessary nutrients your body needs.
Remember, everyone’s body and nutritional needs are different. What works best for one person might not work as well for another. Therefore, it’s important to talk with a healthcare provider or a registered dietitian before starting any new diet plan. They can provide you with personalized advice that takes your individual health needs and goals into account.
Keto Diet For Minimalist Weight Loss
Another extremely popular choice, a ketogenic (keto) diet can certainly be adapted to a minimalist lifestyle, and it can be effective for weight loss, as it forces the body to burn fats rather than carbohydrates for energy.
The diet involves drastically reducing carbohydrate intake and replacing it with fat. This reduction in carbs puts your body into a metabolic state called ketosis. The keto diet can be considered minimalist in a few different ways:
Helps to Simplify Your Food Choices: The keto diet primarily focuses on healthy fats, moderate protein, and very low carbs. This can simplify your shopping list considerably. Your diet will mainly consist of meat, fish, eggs, cheese, low carb vegetables, nuts, and seeds. You won’t need to buy a wide variety of food items.
Forces You to Meal Prep: Minimalist meal prepping also works well with a keto diet. Choose a few keto-friendly meals that you enjoy, and prep them in batches. This saves time and thought during the week.
Need to Reduce Processed Foods: One of the principles of minimalism is to reduce excess and unnecessary items, which can be applied to your diet by cutting out processed and fast foods. Focusing on whole, unprocessed foods not only aligns with minimalism, but it also improves the quality of your keto diet.
The keto diet can be a solid choice for weight loss. As with any diet, you should consult with a healthcare provider before starting a ketogenic diet. They can help ensure you’re following the diet in a safe and healthy way.
It’s a decision we have to make every day. Honestly trying to decide what to eat after a long hard day when you don’t feel like thinking at all can be frustrating. Disagreements over dinner time don’t feel any better. And it’s true that following a minimal diet can be tough (it’s even tougher if you’re trying to do minimalism with kids!).
However, a minimalist diet gives you the flexibility to incorporate a little bit of something everyone likes and the choice to pluck from your favorite common foods and combine them into a meal.
If you’re lacking inspiration there are apps where you can input what ingredients you have or wish to use, and it’ll pull up dozens of recipes for you that you can make from those ingredients.
What’s even more fun: experimenting with colors! Fill your plate with three different yellow elements or three green elements. It is called culinary “arts”—when’s the last time you gave a single thought to your lunch-time color palette? Make meal-time fun (even get the kids involved) by using minimal ingredients and simple techniques!
The type of diet you follow as a minimalist is entirely up to you, and there’s no one right way to do things. If you get tired of eating the same foods over and over again, it may be a good idea to do intermittent fasting and then eat as normal within your eating window.
Or, if you’re okay with eating foods repeatedly, then maybe meal planning a paleo diet with lots of chicken and veg would be a better choice. Either way, the core of a minimalist diet is about eating simple meals that meet all of your dietary needs, and how you do that is up to you.