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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Minimalism - in your diet

Here is week 2 of my series of post on Minimalism and it's aspect in different sphere of your life...

I know many of you struggle with what to eat...  menu planning... time spent in the kitchen...  or at the grocery store... It is not easy to feed a family the healthy way on a budget without spending all your time in the kitchen...

This is why I wrote the book above which is available on Amazon for 0.99$ here. It gives you the basis of good nutrition and healthy eating as well as easy recipes which can often times be done in one pot in less then 30 minutes prep time... Of course those recipes are vegan... because I am and I firmly believe that this is the healthiest way to eat AND the cheapest and simplest!

Well, let's go on to Minimalism in your diet.  First off, I would like to say that I am using the word "diet" as it should be used - i.e. a way of feeding yourself, not as a restrictive way to eat and deprive yourself to loose weight.

A plant based diet is simple and cheap since the basis of it are whole graines and legumes - the 2 least expensive items in any grocery store.  You add in herbs and spices... nuts and seeds as well as fresh fruits and veggies and you got yourself an easy way to cook a healthy complete meal in no time.  Having to stuck up on only those types of items does save you money...  you can avoid the expensive meat and dairy section.... and almost eveything that is pre-package and loaded with chemical and ingredients you can't even pronounce... unless you are a scientist! And those packaged items can be expensive!  

A plant based diet is also an investment...  for your old age... it may seem more expensive at first but you'll soon realise that once you gotten use to it, you can eat much less in quantity because of the quality.  Also you save, short term, on off the counter medications like pain killer and cold medicine.... as well as prescription drugs like antibiotics as you will be never (or almost never) be sick and need such medication (in seven years I haven't taken any medicine...and before becoming vegetarian I was on the verge having to take cholesterol drugs at the young age of 34 and not even being overweight!).  In the long run, you decrease you risk of having to take blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes medicine... which can be quite expensive!!! Think about that money wise... 
Look at how much you spend at the groceries...  and pharmacy! Look at what proportion is spent on meat... cheese... eggs and milk....
After having asked around and relooking at my weekly budget over the last few months, I can tell you that my weekly food budget averages around 140$ per week.  I previously had a budget of 200$ but that was boosted because I included Starbucks...  oups...  yes I did spent that much on it! Before I started working there!

It breaks off like so, more or less...
70$ every 3-4 weeks on nuts and seeds from the Bulk Barn
30$ every 3-4 weeks on legumes and whole grains from the Bulk Barn
10$ per week on beverages - like Orangina and San Pellegrino flavoured water as well as "milk"
70$ per week on fruits and veggies
there there are breads, breakfast items...  fake meat on some rare occasions... flour, sugar and the like to bake....  and treats occasionnally.... because yes I still like to eat... and still like to treat myself on some occasions... 

Now that we got money covered... let's look at time saving...
Here are my trick to save time in the kitchen.

Menu planning.  This will save you time... as you can plan your meal ahead of time and prepare some of them on days where you have more time.  I use to keep 3 hours on Sunday to cook and bake... and that would cover 3-4 days! Well organise, you can make two meals, and bake muffins and banana bread in no time! It will also save you money as you can prepare your meal around a theme and not waste food... wasted food is money down the drain!  It will also help you plan ahead groceries and minimise the time spent there wondering what to eat!  You plan your meal, make your list and head to groceries!

For example, where I live, we get paid on Fridays...  so I make my menu and grocery list on Thursday and go grocery shopping Friday night after work and Sunday morning! Also, on Tuesday, they have what they call "better food tuesday" where if you spend 10$ on fresh produce, you get 10$ off you next 20$ or more grocery bill during the following week end! Therefore I reserve a 25$ for fresh produce to be spent on Tuesday...  I pay in 2 bills and it gives me two 10$ discounts on my week end bills - which I split between Friday and Sunday.  This allows me to always have fresh produce and save 20$ on my bills!

To save time, you can also cook in batches...  that does wonder! You cook a full pot of one of my recipes in Minimalist Veganism and you can feed a family of 3-4 at least 2 meals!  You can even freeze half of it and keep it for a more busy day!   You can also do the same for muffins and cookies! Bake them in batches and freeze...  always handy to have!

Another thing I would encourage is eating the same few recipes that you master really well very frequently... it may seem boring but is saves so many headaches... trying to figure out what to do!  For example, I have 4-5 recipes that I rotate monthly...  each of those are cooked once per month and they are 2 meals equivalent... so one portion is eaten on the week it is cook and the other is kept for another week.  This way, I know that by cooking one meal per week, I have two meals per week always covered - one is fresh and one is from the freezer from the previous week! 

Also, I often go back to one of my easily changing recipes.... depending on what I have on hand...  whole grain, legumes and fresh veggies with herbs and spices. For example, brown rice with black beans, bell pepper, corn and tomatoes makes up for a great mexican rice with the proper spices! Serve with nachos and guacamole and you got yourself a meal in no time!

In order to do that, I make sure I always have a variety of grains and legumes cooked and frozen...  very handy and more nutritious but less expensive then canned legumes! Therefore on my Sundays, I include a pot of legume to be cooked! Depending on what I am running low on!

One thing we tend to forget is that it takes very little and very simple food for our body to be nourished!  A pot of veggie soup with whole bread and hummus bring you a long way!  Hummus is simple and cheap to make... and so is veggie soup!  You can even freeze that too!

Once you get use to eat simple, healthy and nutritious meal, you can even get away with a bunch of raw veggies and fruits, some nuts and bread...  it makes a really nice table to have all that food and color on it and you can eat for a long time while sipping tea and discussing the world!

Being minimalist in the kitchen sure is easy... but you have to trust me... and yourself that you can do this!  We are so used to making huge meals, having full plates and feeling stuff at the end of a meal that otherwise we feel cheated!  But we shouldn't!  Eating is not about feeling stuffed.... it's about giving your body the nutrients it needs... and yes it can be fun too!  And savoury!  Just give it a try!

Before I leave you, don't forget that by the end of this week, my facebook page MinimalistVeganNath will be closed.... and so will be my twitter account. If you wish to follow me, you can do so by suscribing to email, using Google+ or my personnal facebook profile or pinterest accounts - link are provided below.

thanks for reading!
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