Food

Continuing my series of blogs about minimalism and sustainability

Minimalism may not have had the same direct impact on my food choices as it has had on fashion/clothing, but the back-to-basics ethos of simplifying life has definitely inspired me to change my diet and food shopping habits in the interest of eating more healthily and reducing my impact on the environment.

I’m not going to focus too much on changes I’ve made diet-wise because I think that’s such a personal thing and what works for me might not work for you! I know that a lot of people (myself and Beardie included) have gone veggie over the last few years and I’m loving the fact that there are more veggie and vegan choices when eating out.

I was never a big meat eater, but I did used to consume a lot of dairy. There aren’t enough words to describe a diet that sits in between vegetarianism and veganism so I’ve drawn a scale to show you where I’m at (apologies for the incorrect spelling of vegetarian)…

Vegan-ish? Flexigan? Suggestions in the comments please! I want to keep shifting towards the left on this scale, but I’m pretty happy with my current diet so I might just stay there for 2020.

Over the last couple of years a lot of us have made changes to reduce plastic waste. For us – food packaging creates the majority of our plastic waste. With a lot of this waste I’ve felt like I don’t have other options… unless I grow it in the garden then it’s likely to come in packaging that’s difficult to recycle!

So we started to make eco-bricks as a way to make something useful from the not easily recyclable plastic. That lasted about two weeks! For one thing – we didn’t have anything to build with the finished bricks and hadn’t found anywhere local to donate them, but also – it was such a faff! Each bit of packaging needed to be cleaned and thoroughly dried before going in the eco-brick – so we had drying plastic everywhere. If you have more space and time than us then eco-bricks might be worth looking into as they might be a good option for you.

Although we didn’t stick with the eco-brick making, it showed us just how much non-recyclable packaging was going in the bin… and it was shocking. For those two weeks we hardly put anything in our general waste bin and that was the motivation we needed to change our shopping habits.

The main culprits were dried food such as pasta, rice, seeds and nuts which generally come in plastic packaging. We’d started making an action plan for how we could shop differently… and then the wonderful new shop Waste Nott opened literally round the corner and made it so much easier!

We’re definitely sacrificing some convenience in order to reduce packaging waste as we’ve replaced our one weekly ‘big shop’ with smaller shops at the supermarket and three local shops: Thompson Bros Greengrocers, Waste Nott and The V Spot. But it’s great! We’ve massively reduced our packaging waste and haven’t increased our carbon footprint because we do the local shopping on foot.

Shopping in local independents is always much more enjoyable than going to the supermarket and it’s fantastic to see these shops busy. I hope you’re lucky enough to have some good independents near you?

On the subject of waste… I’ve also been focusing on reducing food waste. We don’t really have cooked food waste that needs to go in the general waste, but as a keen gardener, I always hated putting fruit and veg waste into the bin that could be going back in to the garden. But at the same time I was aware that compost heaps attract rodents and so I wasn’t keen on having one near the house.

So when I found this compost tumbler I thought it was the perfect solution! It was compact, off the ground, contained (so it shouldn’t attract rats) and a lovely shade of green. But it was also super expensive and very flimsy!

We got one tumbler’s worth of compost from it before the base started coming out. After less than two years the whole thing had collapsed.

We’re now on our second attempt at small household composting – we bought a Mini Hotbin at the end of the summer after seeing one in action during Sherwood Open Gardens. I’m having problems getting it up to temperature – but it’s breaking down and full of worms so I think it’s okay for now and hopefully it’ll warm up in the spring.

In theory – once it’s above 40 degrees, you can put cooked food waste in as well. If this doesn’t work out I think I’ll get a wormery instead!

Do you have any tips for reducing food and food packaging waste?

Veganuary

I haven’t actually taken part in veganuary… but I know a lot of people have, so I thought it might be good for us to share some recipes and I’m hoping you might also have some advice for me!

This time last year I stopped eating all meat apart from fish and replaced cow’s milk with plant based milks. I’ve now also stopped eating fish… but I’m still struggling to quit the cheese.

My long term goal is to eat a plant based diet at home and relax that to vegetarian when I eat out or if someone else is cooking for me (if a vegan option isn’t easily available). That’s quite a long way to explain my diet so Beardie came up with the term “Flexigan”. Let’s get that trending!

Gradually making changes to my diet is working for me and my next step is to completely cut out cows milk at home. But I know that my favourite hot chocolate powder has milk in it… and how do I stop eating cheese?!

So here are my questions for you:

  1. What are your favourite vegan dishes?
  2. What do vegans eat in sandwiches?!
  3. Are there any good nut cheeses I should try?
  4. Have you had any issues with deficiencies? (Deliciously Ella hosted an interesting podcast here)

Here are a few of my favourite recipes (and yes… I’m in love with Deliciously Ella).

Deliciously Ella Vegan Lental Bolognaise

I’ve been cooking this every week through the winter and it’s yum! I make a big batch so it covers a couple of meals and we sometimes add chilli and have it with potatoes or use it as a base for a shepards pie-ish. I miss out onion & garlic because I have a mild intolerance and it’s still super tasty.


Parsnip, Cranberry & Nut Roast

We made the Deliciously Ella Nut Roast on Christmas day and unfortunately we weren’t keen… it was pretty dry and heavy. So I made these for our second Christmas day – and they were lovely. The Weston family was sold and next year we’ll be having these instead of turkey!

I wish I’d taken a photo… I promise they looked exactly like this.


Deliciously Ella Five Ingredient Cookies

These are perfect for an afternoon snack and relatively guilt free! I’m not tempted to eat too many as they’re mostly made from dates…

I’ve also made these Energy Balls and they were delicious too. I tend to find that both of these are better eaten within a few days – they last longer but taste better freshly made.


Deliciously Ella Creamy Pea & Spinach Pasta

We ate this so much last summer and I’m sure we will again this year! It’s super quick, easy and tasty.

The first time I cooked it I was put off by the smell of the warm coconut yogurt… but strangely it tastes better than it smells! We also add pine nuts when serving.


I’m looking forward to trying your favourite vegan recipes!