Wednesday, May 19, 2010

How do I know if I'm being minimalist?

Gypsy asked me a great question - how do I keep my meals minimalist?
I have an answer for what I do for meals and cooking, and I can explain why I think it is minimalist.
  1. Vegan cooking - takes a lot of the complexity out of meal planning, cooking, and cleanup
  2. Home cooking with fresh foods (mostly) - cheap and healthy.  We are what we eat.  And being healthy has got it all over being sick!
  3. Meal plan - we stick to some basic meals with simple variations
  4. Bulk buying - I stockpile what we eat when it's even cheaper than usual, and we are members in a wholesale grocery outlet.
But looking at my list of meal activities, I wonder, "Am I kidding myself?  THAT'S minimalist? What exactly have I minimised?"  Lots of our time and space are invested in our food system.  We have large cupboards and a good sized fridge freezer in our kitchen and a very large extra pantry and extra freezer downstairs.  I've minimised expenditure, but maximised complications elsewhere.  Are such exchanges inevitable, and how do we know whether they are worth it?

I remember a couple in a tiny apartment who don't ever cook in their kitchen.  They always eat out.  They don't have to shop, store food, cook, serve, clean up, etc.  I envy people in eco-villages like Earthsong (here in Auckland, New Zealand) who often share a communal kitchen for meals, making food preparation really efficient and friendly compared to the one-kitchen, one-family grind.

But I've made a minimalist choice if what I'm doing is the simplest way to my own goals.

My goal is to stay at home with my young children until I don't want to anymore.  Since I don't want to be forced out to work, a huge part of my job is keeping costs down.  And eating out is just not as cheap in New Zealand as it is in New York.  No kidding, I'd still love to live at Earthsong; one of my dearest friends was a founding member and it is fantastically kid friendly.   But in this case we are minimising my husband's commute - he can't work entirely from home yet.  And as he's bringing in the dosh, that's a major goal component.

So each path to minimalism is individual.  But it must be a conscious and evolving one.


  1. Being a minimalist doesn't mean doing nothing at all (bordering on lazy) to me.

    I understand if you don't have a kitchen to cook in, so you eat out or you eat street food everyday... but if you have a kitchen & you go out to eat, to pay (perhaps waste?) a lot of money on pre-made meals when you can just make them at home... that's .. sorta.. lazy *ducks*

    It costs a lot of money to eat out. Like.. A LOT. At least $10 - $15 per meal, and with 30 days in a month, that's 3 meals a day, or 90 times a month.

    90 x $10 = $900.


    Being a minimalist is more on simplifying your life, but that means you have time to spend on other more meaningful activities, in which I place cooking good from-scratch meals, time with family/kids, enjoying nature, finishing errands, not rushing, being impromptu if you want to... etc.

  2. Yes, the eating out situation was very extreme! They had their clothes in their kitchen (no pots and pans) because the place was so small.

    But they do live in a very small space, so I have to give them credit for that side of it. :-)

    That's again why I ask the question about "how do you know?" Some extreme minimalists depend on others' hospitality or even begging for meals... Question - do these always have a religious component?

  3. For a while, I was considering buying a place at Earthsong!We could have been neighbours!

  4. That would have been wonderful! Did you ever meet Lynette Loffel during your visits?