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Simple Menu vs Eating Materialism

Simple Menu - Minimalist Living - Simple Living - Home OrganizationImage: Suat Eman FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 A few months ago while reading the book 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess I was hit with another area where we (as a society) are far from simple…. we sure don’t have a simple menu.

Not only are we hoarders… often letting things sit in packed cupboards or shelves for months/years, but we are also materialistic.

We are always running for the new, shiny, more expensive, bigger and better options.

Sure, we can talk about full clothes closets that take our time and money, but it is possible that our kitchens, menu, and the way we eat has become just as cluttered…

…or even more cluttered.

  • Do we need minimalism in our eating?
  • What should minimalist eating look like?

Is this going too far, or is it one of the most important areas of our life?

A Simple Menu vs Eating Materialism

In America we definitely don’t have a simple menu, instead we have a range of food available to us.  I love it.  When thinking back to what I miss about American, now that we are in China, I can think of many foods I would love to have.

In America when we are hungry we can choose from many American food options, but we also have food options from all around the world.  It is possible to eat Mexican one night, Italian the next night, Indian one night, Asian the next night…. and so on, and this is normal for us.

Not only that we have a huge mix of options for packaged foods and health foods.

Stores are packed with options, many different stores offer different options, than the internet offers a bunch more food options.  Combine that with different sizes, discounts, and different brands of the same products and just making basic food choices becomes a time and money challenge.

But it is food, and it really is important in our lives

So we collect lots of different items we like, or looked good at the store, or someone told us we need to try, or advertising convinced us about

….and still we often can’t figure out what to cook for supper at 5:00 :)

Food is an area I struggled with.  I think nutrition is very important for my family and I want them to have the best… so it seems excusable for this to take up lots of time in my live.

But what it if is just excess clutter making our lives stressful and keeping us from the things that matter in life?

  • Sure we need variety in our diet for nutritional value, but how much is enough?
  • Sure we need healthy options, but will there ever be a ‘perfectly healthy’?
  • Sure we need some fun treats, the love part of our diet, because food should be fun and enjoyable as well, but when is it enough?
  • Sure we need to find ways to save money with discounts and bulk on healthy options, but when does it end up a time and space clutter?

I am not sure I have the answer for these questions for you.  I think we may all have different answers.

But the point is, there is a limit.  We could all use a more simple menu.

There is a ‘good enough’.  There is a point where enough time, money, and energy resources have been put into the food area of our life and we can stop chasing for perfect.  We can be content with a simple menu.

This chasing a ‘perfect eating’ impossibility also causes us guilt because we have trouble keeping up with what is new – new opinions, net products, new health ideas.

….sounds a lot like clothes fashion doesn’t it?

Somehow in countries where we have so many food options and so many people have enough to eat we have turned this blessing into something else.

The Point

With food, as with every area of our house, minimalism helps us structure our environment so it can help us and be enjoyable for us.  There are foods we need – for health, and for varied nutritional value, and there are foods we love.  We can have a tasty and nutritious simple menu with these items.

Maybe if we focused more on eating these and not all the clutter, we could have a much simpler kitchen and meal time.

Thanks so much for reading! What do you think of the simple menu idea?

19 Comments

  1. Bernadette Broderick

    Hi Lorilee,

    Of all the decluttering subjects and solutions, this is the one that strikes most closely to my heart. I can totally identify with your article today. I have been struggling with this issue for many years, and it’s only lately, while reading about a minimalistic lifestyle, that I have made this connection too. I have literally hundreds of recipes and several dozen cookbooks. It’s is the biggest struggle of my day or week – planning a week’s worth of menus. I LOVE to cook, but I try to combine the nutrition aspect, with weekly specials, and then throw in two or three picky eaters. I can never come up with a plan….we have so many choices that we can’t make a choice. As my son says, it’s a “first-world problem”. So, just last week I decided to weed out those complicated recipes that take so much time and different ingredients and try to scale back to more simpler meals even if I don’t follow the current “Canadian Food Guide”. Instead of 400 recipes to choose from (no kidding) I’m aiming for 30 to 40 (not only do I have picky eaters, they don’t like to eat the same twice in recent memory) good and reliable recipes. I even took a course in “simplifying menu plans” but I ‘m still trying to do it. It’s not simplifying I’m after – it’s “downsizing” this very stressful responsibility I’ve put on myself. Sorry for the long post (I’m a tech writer, so I love to write!) but I’d love to hear what others are doing about this, and if they’ve found any good solutions. Thank you for your wonderful blog, and keep up the great work!!!

    • thanks so much for your comment. Good to meet you :)

  2. Yes! I was thinking this very thing as I trod the grocery store aisles yesterday…after meal-planning for several hours. There must be a better, simpler way.

  3. Awesome article, Lorilee! I can very much relate to this. In recent years, I’ve been working on simplifying the food preparation for my family. We used to eat so much meat, cheese, and other heavy foods. About 7 years ago, I changed my eating habits radically. I eat about 80% raw now which consists of many salads, nuts, fish, legumes, and whole food juicing. A typical meal for us takes me about 15-20 minutes to prepare. I used to spend hours in the kitchen every day, and it was robbing me of my peace in a big way. I’m hoping to learn more tips for keeping food simple. And I agree with you 100% about not needing to eat perfectly healthy. Life is too short not to splurge on less healthy foods from time to time. :)

    • love the raw and fresh options. We are still trying to figure out food over here in China but we have lots of veggies and fruits over here that we can get easily.

  4. Nancy

    Simple eating sounds great to me. For the most part, eating food in it’s simple natural form Is the healthiest and the most delicious. I recently discovered many healthy simple and interesting recipes online and now I’m wondering why I need so many cookbooks in my kitchen. I’m glad I have lots of interesting taste choices. I’m also glad I don’t need to have a cookbook for every type of cooking.

  5. I totally agree. In fact, awhile back I went through the pantry and pulled out a bunch of stuff I would never replace once it’s gone. Stuff we like okay but not enough to buy again. It was messy in the short run but I put it all out on the counter so I’d see it and remember to cook it. Now there’s so much more room in the pantry. Still have a few items remaining on the counter, but it’s almost all gone.

    • Sarah T.

      Now that is an interesting idea! Things get so lost in the pantry and you end up wasting it. If you hate the clutter, you’ll be inclined to eat it!

  6. Kathi

    I have also been working on this. I came up with one month’s worth of recipes. We are repeating them each month. I figure after a month, it’s new again and who can’t eat the same thing 12 times a year.

  7. This is a tough one for me! I grew up in a foodie family, and my husband grew up with a house full of convenience food to choose from. I read the book “Seven” a few months ago, I think it was you that suggested it. I am teaching Bible study Jen Hatmaker wrote based on it next month, and I am excited to go through these types of things as a community. I’ll probably be pointing my class to your blog. :)

  8. Sarah T.

    I have recently come up with a month’s worth of menus as well. They all have the same schedule of breakfasts and lunches since it’s just the kids at home with me during the day. Then I did a variety for dinners. Mexican Mondays rotate through tacos, enchiladas, taquitos. Olive Garden Tuesdays is soup, salad, and breadsticks, rotating throug soups. Pasta Wednesdays are spaghetti, chicken alfredo, pesto, and an onion pasta we love. Chicken Thursdays- variations on chicken as the main dish or in the meal. Favorites Friday- pizza, waffles, quiche. Sandwich Saturday- hamburgers, chicken salad, egg salad, BLTs. Hubby brings leftovers to work during the week, so if we have any leftovers at the end of the week, we eat them on Sundays to make that day more peaceful. If not, we do quesadillas, mac n cheese, beans and rice, or baked potatoes.

    My goal was some cheap foods, enoug meat to satisfy hubby, and predictible enough that my shopping would be easy. If I can’t buy it at Costco or Aldi, it probably won’t be incorporated into my menu.

    • Kathi

      Love this!

    • ohh, I love Aldi, I bought lots of our groceries there when we were in America :)

  9. This is something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. And I’ve made some real progress on not over-stocking and just over-all kitchen and cooking simplification. Thanks for the reminder!

  10. I started weekly and monthly menus so I could avoid the daily agonizing over “what to prepare” for dinner. This made grocery shopping easier…simplifying meal planning made other areas easier also.

  11. Hi, I’d like to suggest a cookbook with very simple yet very good recipes. It’s Mollie Katzen’s Pretend Soup cookbook. This was an invaluable resource for a kids’ cooking club where I volunteered. The kids love the step-by-step pictorial directions. You will appreciate the hints and safety tips. For the “Number Salad” recipe, as well as information about all three cookbooks, see http://www.molliekatzen.com/kids.php?recipe=number_salad. My blog Ahh The Simple Life (http://www.ahhthesimplelife.com/)has some good vegetarian recipes. Try this post if you enjoy cooking with kids:http://www.ahhthesimplelife.com/cooking-with-kids/

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