Minimalist Foodie Challenge: January to March

One of the topics I’m exploring in 2017 is minimalism. We’ll be moving this Summer and hope that downsizing now will make that processes easier. Matt and I have been going through our apartment over the past few days doing an initial cull of our possessions. I even parted with some of my books! I mean, it was only to make room for the new books I received as gifts over the holidays…but it’s still progress!

Matt and I are also participating in the Minimalist Foodie Challenge developed by my cousin Danielle over at OurSaltyKitchen. We both have packed schedules over the next few months. Matt has a brutal course schedule this term and my new job is now in full swing. Consequently, we’ll be doing a modified version that aligns with our needs. You can read Danielle’s full description of the challenge here. She has also detailed the Winter plan for her family. I highly recommend taking a look if you’re interested in participating.


The Plan

To make this challenge work for our schedule Matt and I are making a few modifications. We’ve been developing our ingredient list for a few days and are committed to using these ingredients for our dinners over the next three months.

Fruit and Vegetables Grains Fats and Dairy Protein Miscellaneous 
Bananas White Rice Avocado Oil Chicken Canned Tomato Sauce
Apples Quinoa Olive Oil Beef Canned diced tomatoes
Clementines Pasta Coconut Oil Lamb Bread*
Pears Eggs Tortilla Shells
Brussels Sprouts Sharp Cheddar Sweet Italian Sausage Naan
Carrots Smoked Gouda Bacon/Pancetta Stock*
Parsnip Cornmeal Parmesan Cannellini Beans  Pumpkin Seeds 
Onion All-Purpose Flour Black Beans Wine
Garlic Pinto Beans Beer
Leeks Butter Chickpeas
Salad Greens Cream
Butternut Squash Milk Spices, Seasonings, Herbs, and Condiments
Sweet Potatoes Yogurt
Yukon Gold Potatoes

We’re planning to increase the amount of food we make each evening to have plenty of leftovers for lunches. Occasionally, this won’t happen. On those days we’ll turn to our usual lunch fare – sandwiches, mac & cheese, soups, or grazing on hummus and other snacks.

One of the reasons we’re participating in this challenge is to focus on seasonal and local produce and explore recipes that utilize these fruits and vegetables. Luckily, we have access to a great Farmer’s Market on Saturdays and our regular grocery stores carry local produce so this should be an easy transition. This section of the list will apply to all of our meals and snacks for the next three months.

Dishes on my idea list for this season include honey roasted parsnips, slow-cooked beef ragu over polenta, curried butternut squash soup, and sweet potato hash with sausage and egg. I’m also excited to see what a consistent grocery list does for our weekly budget and amount of food waste.

*I plan to start making homemade bread and stock. I’ve been wanting to make bread for years since it’s something we eat on a daily basis. We were gifted a great book on the topic for our wedding nearly three years ago so I have no excuse. We use a lot of stock in our meals since we’re big fans of soups, stews, and sauces. While it’s not the most expensive item on our shopping list a fews cartons of stock a week certainly adds up. I’ve already started a ziplock bag of veggie scraps in the freezer in preparation for my first batch.

Our Loopholes

Wild Card – We’re giving ourselves a weekly wild card – one ingredient that’s not on the list. This might be something we’re craving or something that catches our eye at the Farmer’s Market. Ideally, this ingredient will be featured in multiple meals that week.

Weekly Bake – I’m in a committed relationship with sugar. I’m especially fond of sweet baked goods and the act of baking is one of the little joys that make me happy. Instead of committing on a single treat for the duration of the challenge I’m allowing myself a weekly bake. A single batch of something sweet. This sounds like a lot of baked goods but there will be weeks that I skip and we frequently share these goodies with our coworkers.

Cheat Nights – We don’t go out much due to our work and school schedule but we’re giving ourselves a pool of three evenings a month for eating out, dinner with friends, and events.

Breakfast doesn’t count – Currently, neither of us have the time/energy to make breakfast from scratch every day. Consequently we will not be following the ingredient list for all meals this time around. We have a handful a breakfast options that we usually gravitate towards and we’ll be sticking with those for now.

There you go, that’s our plan. I’ll let you know how it goes at the end of March. I might even share a recipe or two if we discover anything that’s especially delicious. Wish us luck.


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