Project Minimizing

Over the past year I have made a concerted effort to focus inward and evaluate all of the areas of my life (personal, professional, spiritual, physical, mental, etc.) in terms of what makes me happy vs. what makes me unhappy/stressed, what I need vs. what I want, what I value most vs. what things/activities are “extras” or “fillers”, practical vs. wasteful…you get the idea. The overall theme is “how can I be the best version of me and productively use the time and resources I have been given?”

For me this has meant being more mindful when it comes to:

1.  My health: Do I treat my body in the same way that I recommend others treat their bodies? Do I nourish my body with healthy foods and with sufficient exercise? Do I allow my body rest when necessary? Do I listen to my internal cues to hone in on what exactly may be “off” when I am not feeling well?

2. My relationships: Which relationships do I value most? Do I put the most time and effort into cultivating the relationships most important to me? Do I allow toxic or detrimental relationships to remain intact or do I separate myself from them?

3. My attitude: Do I think about things in a positive light? Am I spending more time getting hung up on life’s obstacles or am I instead focusing on finding solutions? Are my interactions with people helpful and happy or negative and indifferent? Do I approach the day in a “half full” or “half empty” way? Do I make a conscious choice to be happy every day? Do I regularly practice being compassionate?

4. My time: Do the things I spend time on enrich my life or help others? Do the activities I spend time on bring me joy and a sense of purpose? Is my time spent focused or distracted? Am I productive or wasteful with the time I have been given?

5. My money: Is my money spent on needs or wants? Do I carefully consider each purchase? Does spending money stress me out because I am making unwise purchases? Is my money spent on things or life-enriching experiences?

As I have considered these many questions on a regular basis, I have been able to start to simplify and minimize my life by ridding it of “the unnecessary”. “The unnecessary” is anything that does not contribute something positive or healthy and is not a need nor a useful item.

Some of “the unnecessary” has included:

Clothes (things I have not worn in a year or more)
– Shoes(they either do not fit comfortably or I wear them less than once/month)
Accessories (how many belts/scarves/jewelry does one need??)
Cable (first year that I have not had cable annnnd it’s awesome!)
Groceries or toiletries that are wants instead of needs
Magazine subscriptions (the internet and the library provide great and free resources and many times friends give me magazines they do not read so I get them fo’ free)
Kitchenware that is not used daily or weekly
Negative talk (speaking anything but uplifting things about myself or others – it is not positive, productive, helpful or nice)
Stress (I work every day to reduce the stress in my life – this will probably be an ongoing work in progress)

The awesome thing is that I have been able to donate, recycle or sell “the unnecessary” material items that I did not need through family and friends, consignment stores, Goodwill/Salvation Army, re-purposing items and the like. I avoided wasting but significantly reduced “the unnecessary” items, which has been a blessing.

Now you may be asking, “what does all of this have to do with food?!?”. After all, this is a blog about food. Well, along with getting rid of “the unnecessary”, I am also trying to be more responsible with my money and specifically, my food expenses. As you all know, I love food. I love making it, eating it, writing about it, etc. Due to that fact, I tend to spend a lot more on groceries than is necessary. Normally I buy almost all organic instead of just buying organic for the foods listed on “Dirty Dozen” list, which would definitely lower my grocery bill! I also buy food/ingredients just to create new recipes and although they get eaten, it is usually an extra cost that could be utilized instead for a special occasion.

Therefore, my biggest project this summer is to tackle my food expenses by setting a weekly budget of $30 and sticking to it. Mind you this $30 will include grocery items and eating out. So if I want to save to go out to eat, I will have to factor that into my weekly budget. I will also be planning meals based on what I already have in my cabinets and store items that are on sale. I plan to more regularly frequent the farmers markets  in order to buy produce and fruit that is local and in season, which is usually less expensive (and better for the environment!) than buying it in stores. It will be a challenge, but I think that blogging about it will hold me more accountable and should be interesting to see what I come up with : )

Considering minimizing your life or budget? These sites are great resources if you want to get a little more information:

http://www.theminimalists.com/21days/day15/

http://www.becomingminimalist.com/becoming-minimalist-start-here/

http://zenhabits.net/simple-living-manifesto-72-ideas-to-simplify-your-life/

http://andthenwesaved.com/things-to-do-instead-of-spending-money/ 

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