Simplify Your Grocery List

The minimalism movement is permeating our lives from every direction—but what about your kitchen?

When I watch HGTV shows with kitchen remodels, I am always amazed by houses that can have open shelving where they expose all of their culinary secrets. The thought of going doorless makes my heart rate accelerate.

Just to be clear, this isn’t because I really have dirty secrets to hide. I truly am a boring, normal human being. My anxiety is simply rooted in that the surplus of old cans, containers and half-used groceries would be exposed to the world.

I would love to have a kitchen where all of my dietary needs are organized in beautiful containers that somehow have an instagrammable, neutral color palate. While I’m not there yet, I have figured out a few tips to minimize my grocery list which helps me manage my budget, space, levels of waste and improve the quality of my food.

Whenever possible, get the most basic ingredient.

This requires some knowledge and extra time investment, but is so worth it.

We live in a world where convenience rules and while prepared foods save time, it does cost more than a little extra money. Packaged foods produce a significant amount more waste and are riddled with fillers and preservatives. Move away from the pre-cut, packaged produce and ingredients in favor of the most foundational version possible.

  • This means opting raw salad ingredients over prepackaged salad kits.
  • This means making your own salad dressing with vinegar and oil versus buying pre-bottled dressings.
  • This means making your own soups versus purchasing canned or pre-packaged alternatives.

I found the book, The Homemade Pantry: 101 Foods You Can Stop Buying and Start Making, and my mind was blown in terms of all the foods you can make with a few simple ingredients. I’m now using milk to make my own ricotta, butter and yogurt—which really saves dollars but also ensures that I can use the best possible foundational ingredient.

Buy in bulk when you can.

This is the key to reducing your oddly shaped containers in your cabinets.

Buying random bottles of oils, vinegars or dried ingredients takes up a lot of space and is expensive, because you’re paying for the packaging too. Invest in a few bulk ingredients jars that are space efficient and, honestly, that you like the aesthetic. Buy your basic ingredients in bulk when possible (you’ll save money, I promise) and when possible start from those ingredients instead of buying something new and packaged.

Keep it interesting with seasonal ingredients.

This one may seem counter-productive to the minimalism, but I promise it’s not. One of the biggest traps I fall in is when I get bored of basic ingredients and I fall for whatever the newest marketing ploy is at the grocery store. The result is never anything groundbreaking, but it is because I am craving something new and different.

The beautiful thing is we live in a world with seasons, so let’s take advantage of it! In the fall, go crazy with apples, pumpkins and brussels sprouts. In the winter, lean into soups and comfort foods. Most seasonal recipes have a similar base, but require a few seasonal ingredients. Embracing these rotating offerings will keep you from getting bored, but also empower you to shop local and in season—which only results in higher quality, nutrient dense food.

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