What is simple eating?

Simple eating means choosing mostly simple, minimally processed foods and combining them into easy meals that consist of about 10 ingredients or less.

This is not to say that eating simply never includes eating packaged and processed food or takeout. The point is that the MAJORITY of the diet includes simple eating comprised of basic whole foods.

The 80/20 rule is a good guideline. That is, on average, about 80% simple, minimalist food, 20% other foods is a good balance.

There are no set rules to follow when you’re eating simply. You want to make eating easier and MORE simple, not more complicated by adding a bunch of rules to how you eat.

Don’t restrict what you eat or you’ll be setting yourself up for disaster before you even start. Simple eating is supposed to be SIMPLE, not more complicated by trying to follow a bunch of external food rules and feeling guilty when you “fall off the wagon”.

Simple eating a lot like what it sounds like: eat simply!

Still wondering how to eat simply?

Eating simply includes simple foods, simple cooking, simple grocery shopping, and simple meal planning. Simple eating is comparable to eating like a minimalist. We’re going to go over each of these in a bit more depth later in this article.

But first, if you’d like to start simplifying your eating, get the Simple Money-Saving Meal Ideas workbook!

Choose simple food

Simple foods are those that have few ingredients and simple preparation. They are most similar to foods in their original form, with minimal processing.

Simple food is made into easy meals with few ingredients and steps.

Simple Food List:

  • vegetables
  • fruit
  • nuts & seeds
  • whole grains
  • beans & legumes
  • high quality oil like olive or avocado oil
  • poultry, meat & fish (optional)

Simple meal planning

Like a minimalist meal plan, a simple meal plan is about making the process of planning very basic and not over complicating it!

Minimalist meal planning is the bare minimum plan to ensure you have the ingredients to make the meals you want to eat.

It’s perfect for anyone who struggles with traditional meal planning, or anyone who is just looking for a simpler, less rigid way to choose what to eat.

A simple meal plan would be one that is very similar from day to day and from meal to meal. For example, oatmeal for breakfast, salad for lunch, hot meal for supper.

This would be great for someone looking to follow a simple eating pattern, meal prep, or reduce decision fatigue.

Imagine never having to figure out what to pack for lunch, because you have the same lunch each day!

Now I know you might have sucked in a breath of dread at the thought of eating the same meal each day, but don’t be put off! What I mean by that is to have a default TYPE of meal to eat, not eating the exact same foods each day.

To ensure you get enough variety in your diet, I recommend having a series of meals you can substitute for each other.

For example, you might have a list of 30 meals you like and choose from that list instead of having to think of new ideas each week when you sit down to meal plan. That way you don’t have to work from memory or try to find new ideas each time!

eat simply woman eating fruit

Simple grocery shopping

Simplify grocery shopping by sticking to the same staple foods then getting a few things different each week for variety.

I like to use a master grocery list of staple foods which saves me from having to write a new grocery list each time I go shopping. Instead I just check off what we need from the list!

You might also find a minimalist grocery list helpful!

I like to focus on getting foods that will last a while so we don’t have to shop every week but still eat fresh produce.

Here is a list of produce that will store 2 weeks or more. The first week we just eat the more perishable foods, like berries and lettuce, then eat the longer lasting ones, like citrus fruits and squash, later.

Simple cooking

Simple cooking is a style of cooking that aims to simplify by saving time and effort in the kitchen.

A core value of simple cooking is that simple is best. (duh!?) You don’t need complicated recipes or fancy ingredients to make good food!

Instead, the focus is on choosing very simple recipes with few ingredients and few steps. It may even mean cooking without recipes, although there are no hard and fast rules.

Simple cooking also has a strong focus on the type of cooking techniques used.

Generally you’d want to use more hands-off cooking techniques like roasting, baking, boiling, or slow cooking rather than cooking techniques where you have to actively be watching the food, like with pan frying.

Another example would be making no-bake cookies, or those that are scooped onto the pan, rather than those than need the dough to be chilled then rolled, then cut before baking, then decorated afterwards.

Simple cooking is the same as minimalist cooking in many ways, although the focus on minimalist cooking does fall a bit more on cooking less, whereas simple cooking focuses more on the cooking process.

So you could say that simple cooking is one part of minimalist cooking.

What is minimalist eating?

I haven’t mentioned minimalist eating yet so it’s probably helpful to define it, then do a comparison of minimalist eating vs eating simply.

A minimalist diet is a pattern of eating that doesn’t eliminate any particular foods or have any strict rules.

Minimalist eating means keeping your food choices simple. It’s about giving up strict and complicated diets for a way of eating that nourishes your body more simply and intuitively.

Read the article on Eating a Minimalist Diet

Learning to eat simply and eat like a minimalist are quite similar then.
They both include a key focus on:

  • simple food choices
  • few but high quality ingredients
  • minimally processed foods
  • simple ways of preparing meals

Now you know that choosing to eat simply includes focusing on simple foods, simple meal planning, simple grocery shopping, and simple cooking.

If you’d like more tips about how to start eating simply, get the workbook!

Just keep it simple… Eat simple! Have you tried to simplify the way you eat?

eat simply with these tips from a registered dietitian
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