I’d love to share a story with you on how I began to value minimalism in the kitchen and why it contributed to healthy happiness for our family.
It all began in Barcelona.
Many holidays have come and gone with me packing for them and then living out of a suitcase for a while. But especially our trip to Barcelona has left a long lasting impression on me around what it is like to live with less clutter.
I had been in Europe for a few weeks already, visiting family, when my husband joined me and we travelled to Barcelona. We had rented a small apartment in the centre, it was not grand but well designed and we loved absolutely everything about it. It was on the rooftop of the building and with a small bedroom and bathroom, living area and open kitchen, it provided exactly what we needed to feel quite like home in a city we had never visited before. For days on end we would roam the streets, enjoy the warm summer air, eat tapas, drink cava… It was heaven! All the while living out of this one suitcase for a period of six weeks and having only the supplies in a minimally furnished and fitted holiday apartment.
All of a sudden I realized how free I felt. The lack of things to have to handle every day freed up our time and gave us so much energy for all the good things that are meant to be enjoyed. It occurred to me that really, every time you go on holidays you pack a little capsule wardrobe. Never mind if you’ve heard of the concept, you simply pack a few things that will serve you for the time being, you leave the rest at home. And with that comes freedom! We often feel free on holidays, don’t we. Free of having to do certain things, free of needing to care for stuff, move things around, clean things. We are free to do what we most want: spend time on the things that really matter.
How to have the holiday feeling at home!
Returning home from Barcelona the memory of how I felt there stuck with me. How could I recreate that feeling of minimalism, freedom, joy and relaxation? How could I feel that way in our every day life?
I love every day life, finding joy in the ordinary, finding happiness in the days that aren’t noteworthy. But it is so very easy to get bogged down and overwhelmed.
Cooking should be joyful, but far too often we get stuck in a confusing world of ‘shoulds’ and ‘do’s’ and ‘dont’s’. We get stuck between what we expect from ourselves, what we are capable off realistically within the limits of our time and energy and what we feel is expected of us by others. To make it even harder: never before did we have so many options! Access to so many recipes, books, blogs, apps… Enough to give you anxiety and reach for the frozen pizza… It’s a natural reaction not to want anything to do with any more choices at the end of a long day.
Obviously there are some ready-made solutions to this problem:
- You can buy take away. But that is (often) not very healthy.
- You can order meal boxes that come with recipes and ingredients. But they can be expensive.
- You can buy frozen pre-made meals. But they are (often) highly processed.
- You can go out for dinner every night. I wish.
- If you want healthy, you’ll pay a premium.
- If you want convenience, it’s often processed food, along with packaging that ends up in landfill.
So the question is, how can we apply the idea of minimalism (and capsuling) in the kitchen? How can it make us feel like we have all we need to whip up something great, without the fuss and stress?
Happy first, healthy second
Choosing is tough, even if the choices we face are all lovely options. I am a very indecisive person and I waste a lot of time trying to work out what I want. I love cooking but I can get lost in all the recipe clippings that I have collected over the years, never mind all the online content I have bookmarked! So over time I’ve developed this craving to declutter my kitchen habits and focus on the ingredients and recipes that make us happy. I truly believe that if you make yourself happy first, healthy will follow suit.
Imagine if we could walk into our kitchen feeling happy and confident about what we are able to create for ourselves and our families. What if all the noise and clutter would go away and it was clear and easy to put dinner on the table. Even better yet, what if cooking felt like walking down a street in Barcelona, on a warm summer night, when you’re about to have tapas and cava in a bar. That’s pretty joyful, right?
The one step towards minimalism that makes all the difference
Minimalism enables us to focus on the things that make us happy and helps us to leave behind those that don’t.
So let’s get to work!
Go to your pantry and let go of ONE ingredient that has been sitting there unused.
You have been meaning to use it but it just doesn’t come naturally. Or maybe you have used it and you didn’t quite like the taste of it. Not something blatantly obvious that you hate and always have hated, but something that you felt you should be using.
For me, this ingredient was coconut flour. I’ve tried it in a few recipes, I didn’t like the taste and texture but I kept thinking maybe I’ll use it again. It’s supposed to be healthy. It’s often used in healthy recipes. Maybe I should keep it…
The day I finally decided to throw it out was the first step to start re-focusing my energy. It sounds simple, but it will make a difference.
Please leave a comment below with the ingredient you have decided to let go off and what your experience with it was. I would love to know!