I’ve been moving house, actually, continents, over the past month. The process has taken longer than I expected. Packing, cleaning, travelling, finding a flat, settling… Indeed, buying the items with a click of a button via the internet takes pretty much no cognitive effort. However, assembling flat pack furniture actually takes a huge combination of physical and mental exertion.
I shed probably 90% of my belongings when I left Australia. I stuffed the remaining 5% of these non-breakable and lightweight items into 2 medium-sized suitcases, and the rest went into some shipping boxes which may be somewhere around the Pacific Ocean currently. One thing I got rid of, other than all my furniture – I discovered a burgeoning market in Melbourne for assembled Ikea furniture and slightly scruffy Mid Century Modern items, was all of my kitchenware and stashed food items.
This made me think very hard when I arrived in Canada in a state of flux. I wanted to treat food and how I eat in the same manner that I wanted to shed the superfluous items that I felt were wearing me down and binding me to unhappiness.
My life in Melbourne was defined by an overpriced apartment devouring my income, car and student loans I struggled to pay off, extortionate utility bills gouging holes in my bank balance, and a stressful job I couldn’t afford to quit. Despite my financial concerns, I drank a lot of wine, ate brunch whenever possible, and maintained a somewhat healthy lifestyle that just about held the fraying edges of my sanity together.
I wanted peace from the noise of overflowing cupboards reminding me that physical items never made me happier. It may have taken me over 30 years to work this out, but no item I have ever purchased ever brought me genuine joy.
So what’s with all this minimalism?
Minimalism isn’t a hard and fast concept. Overall, I see it as to live with fewer redundant material possessions. Not letting the things you own, own you. The outcome of this is that minimalism could provide you with a tool that can assist you in finding freedom from whatever you feel is holding you back. Some might see this as a curated life allowing them to travel with only a backpack, or live in a van. But one thing I saw was a chance to rid myself of the unused items in my kitchen, and start again with an approach to cooking and eating aligning to more minimalist concepts.
Less is more
In no way am I saying that I eat less and that minimalist eating is eating minimally. I eat a lot. I think about food a hell of a lot too. I like to cook and I can make food that tastes good, but I’m not hugely adventurous unless someone else is cooking it for me. Why is this great? I don’t need to have a kitchen overflowing with appliances that I have to dig out because I’ve decided to make squid ink tortellini.
Things I definitely didn’t need to even consider relocating included a retro style food processor – as I never bake cakes, 2 different blenders, popsicle moulds, over 24 glasses of various forms, a popcorn maker, a milk frother and a toaster.
And I know that those items aren’t even that strange, it helped that the voltage wouldn’t let me move some of the electricals (I at least used the milk frother daily). With previous house moves I have had to rid myself items including: a Moroccan tagine pan, a twice used bread maker, a carrot sharpener, a vegetable spiraliser, a candy floss machine, an oil dispenser with a brush at one end, a brain-shaped jelly mould that didn’t work, an avocado “saver”, a chip and dips bowl shaped like a Mexican hat, a banana protector, and an electric carving knife that just reminded me of Stephen King’s Misery too much to use it.
When I arrived I purchased the bare essentials for my kitchen. Things that couldn’t arrive fast enough included a kettle (gotta have my Aeropress coffee in the morning), a set of plain white crockery, cutlery, pans and an in-pan steamer, and some spare sharpish knives (my Globals are on that ship in the Pacific Ocean – please hurry!).
I’ve adopted a mindset that when I go to buy groceries I actually think about what I am going to cook and how I’m going to cook it. I want to make simple, wholesome food that doesn’t need excessive preparation and ingredients that get hardly used again (hello fennel). Previously I had an impulsive manner of grabbing things that I fancied eating (and a bottle of wine) and then getting home with nothing to form an actual meal.
It also has stopped me from buying things that end up rotting in my fridge (I’m sorry yellowing broccoli) or get half used and then go off because I am more mindful of the items that I need to make a whole meal. But mostly it has stopped the guilt of opening a cupboard or drawer and seeing dejected looking appliances that I never used, reminding me of poor food choices, and my inability to bake.
I had the convenience of enforced downsizing and culling my belongings, but I feel like these principles could be applied to anyone who is wanting to make a change to their diets and lifestyle, and adopt a new way of eating… So, clean out that cupboard of weird kitchen gadgets you’ll never use and sort out your pantry because nobody thinks self raising flour that went off in 2015 is an “antique”. I guarantee you will feel better mentally for it.