Can a minimalist have a stockpile of food or things? If so, how big is it allowed to be?
It’s late March 2020 as I write this and Covid-19 is impacting us globally. Needless to say it’s a disruptive and difficult time for many people, and I wanted to share how simplicity and minimalism has helped my partner and I stay focused before all this unfolded and manage the situation so far. And in case anyone is wondering, we still had a few spare rolls of toilet paper in the house when the crazy hoarding behaviours hit the supermarkets a few weeks ago… 🙂
We’re only 2 people and 2 fur kids in our house, so I appreciate our situation is different to many others who might have big families, but I wanted to share my approach on how I’ve always thought (way before global virus situation) about staple foods, shopping and budgeting.
In this video I cover 2 of the key themes I use to plan and live as simply as possible (I’ll go into them in a bit more detail below:
- Plan and buy the things you use often.
- Learn to improvise! (multi purpose tools/items, food and recipes – you name it!)
I would consider myself a minimalist to some extent, but I don’t believe this means that you can’t buy relevant things in bulk to save money, time and energy. Not to mention lower environmental impact with less packaging and fewer trips to the shops.
- Meal plan and know the things you often buy. Like most people we try and eat healthy, and therefore our weekly shopping list tends to include mostly the same things. Fresh or frozen veggies (as a side note, I would struggle to live without avocado!), eggs, salad, a few canned goods, almond milk, meat and/or tofu. Knowing your basic ingredients/recipes well also means you can vary them as necessary if it’s hard to get hold of certain items during a specific time/season.
- Make sure you never run out of all items in one category at the same time. For example, we always buy ahead to ensure we never run out of sweet potato, rice and pasta at the same time. If we’re low on one, we’ll substitute with something else from the same category. Same goes for protein and veggies.
- Buy one extra or a bigger pack of things you use all the time. This makes good budget and eco sense (big pack means less packaging in the long run), and I do this for canned goods, pasta/rice, hygiene items (yes, including toilet paper) and frozen foods. In our case, we try hard to only grocery shop once a week (I’ll talk more about this in my upcoming meal planning video) and we only have one large drawer for our pantry and a fairly small apartment size fridge/freezer, so it’s a bit of a Tetris game on shopping day! Freezing soup/sauces/meat/chicken and other things flat in portion size (reusable) bags also helps reduce packaging and fit more in the freezer.
- If your favourite brand/food is on sale, buy one extra (not 10!). Somewhat related to the above point, but I only do this for things I know I will use, and I never buy more than one or a big family pack if it’s a product/food/drink I’ve never tried before. It’s often a waste of money and because you bought it, you’ll either feel the need to use/eat it even if you don’t like it OR shove it in the back of the cupboards and end up having to throw it out later (when it’s expired).
- I’m always so grateful for what I have. Not a planning tool, but it’s really helped me over the past few weeks. There was a time in my life when money was extremely tight, but I still managed and I have since then always been grateful to have food on the table, be healthy and have beautiful and supportive friends and family in my life. Nurturing a mindset of ‘I have enough/more than I need‘ helps both our mental health and our ability to stick through tough times without giving in to fear and panic.
- Learn to improvise! As a student I learned to make up random food dishes with whatever I had in the fridge and pantry. I’m by no means a chef, but I like the challenge of improvising new meals from the basic foods I most often have on hand. Also remember that a well stocked spice cabinet can really improve the blandest of things. If you need help improvising food from a small pantry, YouTube or Google is your friend.
As a side note, before crazy virus times, we also started keeping some basic backup food items and a fresh water jug in the house, just in case we’d get sick, have a power outage or something else unexpected happened. I’m not talking about surviving for 6 months without going out, but rather an extra weeks’ worth of food for us and the pets if we were ever in a pinch. Much like the financial emergency fund I talked about in a previous post, this is a very simple thing for peace of mind and resilience in unexpected and difficult times.
Simplicity and minimalism has helped me realise that it’s not about having as few things as possible. It’s not a competition! It’s about making space for the items and routines that help make our lives easier and remove the things and people that cause clutter and noise.
I hope you stay safe during these strange times and physically stay away from other people whenever possible. Thank goodness we live in a time where people are only a phone call or video chat away!