Minimalist Food: One Bowl Eating

I’m intrigued by the idea of eating all of my meals out of a single bowl. Not only would it reduce the tableware in my cabinets; I think it would make me more mindful, and more appreciative, of what I put in my body.

My ideal one bowl menu would look something like the following:

Breakfast: oatmeal. I don’t think there’s a more perfect minimalist food than oatmeal (or porridge, as they say here in the UK). It’s simple, it’s satisfying, and best of all, it has so much potential. Oatmeal is like a blank slate: simply add what you like according to the season or your mood. Some of my favorite “embellishments” include brown sugar, cinnamon, honey, blueberries, and cranberries (not all at once, of course!).

Lunch: hiyayakko. I discovered this simple, delicious dish a few years ago in Tokyo. It consists of a cold block of tofu, topped with green onions, dried tuna flakes (optional if vegetarian) and soy sauce. See this site for some (mouth-watering) photos and more details.

Snack: yogurt. I eat this every afternoon to keep healthy bacteria in my digestive system. I’ve been buying it at the store, but would someday like to make my own.

Dinner: steamed vegetables over rice. I’m happy to eat this perfectly plain, as I love to savor the individual taste of each vegetable. DH, however, has a more sophisticated palette than I do—so we usually add a sauce like Thai green curry, or ginger and garlic. Other dinner options would be a hearty soup, or a bowl of pasta.

I don’t think one bowl eating would be too difficult, and am hard-pressed to think of any favorite meals that require a plate. I also like the connection to Zen philosophy; itinerant monks used to carry one bowl to satisfy their need for sustenance while pursuing their spiritual path.

I imagine that eating from a single bowl would focus my attention on the contents—to contemplate it, celebrate it, and be thankful for it (instead of taking it for granted).

I would also have to wash it directly after each use, so that it would be ready for the next meal. No more dirty dishes piling up in the sink! :-)

I’d love to hear about your favorite minimalist meals, and your thoughts on one bowl eating!

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103 comments to Minimalist Food: One Bowl Eating

  • Great post.

    I eat everything out of one bowl. But my bowl is somewhat flatter. It’s a sort of plate/bowl. Works for everything.

    There’s a picture at

  • I absolutely LOVE this idea on so many levels! I will have to give this some serious thought and implement this change. I agree that it would be more natural to really appreciate what is in this one special bowl dedicated to sustenance! And less dishes is always a good thing : )


  • Kayleigh

    This sounds like a really good idea. I’ve been following your blog for a while now and it has really inspired me to be more minimalist. So far i have de-cluttered most of the junk from my room (I’m still living with my mum till i can move into my own place), purged my wardrobe and have taken to being a lot more clean, tidy and organized in my stuff and life, and this blog has really helped me thanks :D
    As for the eating out of one bowl idea i don’t eat big platefuls anyway, im a student so i practically live off small frequent meals, and eating from just one bowl would make all the washing up so much easier. Plus depending on the size of said bowl it would be a lot easier to control portion sizes and whatnot so you don’t overeat, like i usually do :@

  • Bethanie

    I’m so happy to have found this blog, and the people on it. I have always had the urge to purge (stuff, I mean) and my friends and family have a tendency to treat me like the crazy aunt. I’m glad I’m not as alone as I thought! And I like Mark’s bowl!

  • s.f.

    Well… this is a two bowl daily menu but you know… men tend to eat a little bit more than women :) The prep time for each meal is 3-4 min., and during the day you can/should eat any amounts of leafy greens that you want :)

    Miso soup (pour hot water over one teaspoon of miso and few dried wakame flakes)
    Rice with 2 cubes of fermented bean curd

    Tom-yum soup (pour hot water over one teaspoon of tom-yum paste)
    Rice with one umeboshi (pickled apricot plum)

    Tamarind soup (pour hot water over one teaspoon of tamarind paste)
    Rice with few tidbits of fried gluten

    You can find all these at a decent price in any asian grocery store. I use a simple rice cooker and Nishiki rice – not only because it tastes soooo good but also because you don’t have to wash it :) Hmm… now I wonder – does this count as minimalism or just laziness? I’ll go with minimalism :)

    • Kristina

      s.f., your comment about “mimimalism or just laziness” reminds me of the dad from “Cheaper by the Dozen” (the book, not the Steve Martin movie), a motion-studies expert who helped factories streamline and speed up their production processes. On starting a new consulting project, he apparently always asked the foreman to point out his laziest worker; because the laziest worker wouldn’t want to expend any more energy than he had to on wasted motions and therefore, was the most efficient at eliminating unnecessary steps. Works for me. ;)

  • […] While researching I found this excellent book that helped me structure my self-study: One Bowl: A Guide to Eating for Body and Spirit by Don Gerrard. You can also check out Ann’s review and Francine’s take on Minimalist Food. […]

  • I have read several posts that speak to making your own yogurt. I am following a special diet for my digestive illness and I recently began making my own yogurt. I LOVE it. I end up with a quart of plain yogurt. I use the yogurt to substitute as cream in tomato basil soup, I mix it with strawberries, bananas and honey and freeze for a yummy homemade sherbert and many other things. I would definitely suggest it.

  • Steam

    There is a word for this in Asian culture and a ritual to it. I’ve been trying unsuccessfully to recall it. Are you familiar with this concept? Many thanks. Today’s lunch: some roasted vegetables (sweet potatoes, brussel sprouts, turnips), black beans and rice all in a 5 inch round bowl about 1.5 inches high and a cup of tea. Plenty!

  • Steam

    It’s called oryoki!

  • rebekka starfish

    I started eating almost everything from my big cereal bowls when I discovered they keep the food hotter for a longer time than a plate, and there are less spill related accidents with them, they are also perfect for some quick ramen ;) Normally for cooking I use just one pot (simple quick meals for a one person student household, like rice with herb butter, Maultaschen soup, cheese noodles, mixed fruit salad) and one bowl and chopsticks for eating. Although I still prefer having a plate at hand, because many of my meals consist of bread. Eating with chopsticks from a bowl is kind of … serene. You have to focus, you can’t stuff your mouth as much. But I’d never give away all my other dishes, because they save me (and the environment) from buying paper plates whenever I have friends or family over.

  • amhowl

    I have been eating out of one bowl for a long time. Oatmeal is a favorite breakfast, and right now salads for dinner. Lunch is at work and is usually leftovers. I have a favorite container for that.
    Yogurt is super easy to make. I use my rice cooker on warm, filled with water to put the jars of the pre-yogurt in. It takes over night while I sleep or the 9 or so hours I’m at work. I then mix the fat free yogurt with home made jams and jellies that my DH has made, wonderful!

  • Mims

    I once travelled down the Amazon river on a regular river boat. During this trip my entire “kitchen” konsisted of a bowl, a spoon, a mug and a swiss army knife (which I was utterly greatful for as my only source of “potable water” was a daily water melon). (In addition to that, my belongings consisted of a hammock to sleep in, a blanket and a backpack to carry all my belongings, bliss!)

  • […] Uno de los minimalistas que mas influencia ha tenido sobre mi es Francine Jay del Blog Miss Minimalist, ella creo un post años atrás hablando también sobre la idea de consumir todos los alimentos en un solo bowl. Aquí el post en ingles. […]

  • Arletta

    I have been searching online for some place that sells nice shallow plate/bowls at a reasonable price and size, so that I could only have one or two (maybe three, in case of a guest)and get rid of anything else that resembles plates, saucers or bowls. I used to have some, which I got from G.I. Joe Army/Navy Surplus in Anchorage, AK. They were called Swiss Army plates and made of white bone china. Very sturdy, very efficient. Got to love that!

    Aside from Zen monks, the American Indians (at least, some of them) had a tradition of having one bowl per person. If you were invited over to someone else’s place for dinner, you brought your bowl with you.It was extremely rude to force your hosts into a situation of having to let you use one of their bowls.

    I like that so much better than the weird table layouts with three different kinds of forks, spoons and knives!

    I tend to make a lot of rice dishes with vegetables, and, sometimes meat. I’ll use different spices and combinations of veggies to change them up, but, the layout is mostly the same. Rice, veggies over the rice and the meat stirred into the veggies or set on top, and, any thing like salsa on top of all of that. It’s lovely!

    • Shyann

      I appreciate learning about the Native Americans using one bowl per person, and how guests were expected to bring their own. I may seriously adopt that idea, then part with the three extra bowls, forks, and spoons that I store, just “in case” I have guests.

      So many of us can relate, also, to being on a camping trip and enjoying some of our best-tasting meals, in the woods, with a simple bowl, cup, and spoon.

  • Shyann

    I LOVE this blog! So many of us today are thinking in similar ways! Inspired by monks and forever working to improve my minimalism, I took this step. For the past two years I’ve been eating all of my meals in a plain white Corelle “serving” bowl. I initially tried a few other bowl styles, but settled on this one because it has a flat bottom with high sides, and is roomy, durable and lightweight. My heart’s goal, however, is a brown “earthy” bowl– when such crosses my path. Literally everything can be eaten in a bowl, even sandwiches. I don’t worry about modern-day ideals on meal presentation aesthetics. There is something meditative about eating a simple meal from a singular vessel.

  • Tina

    I have a small set of china–4 place settings out of an original 16. There are 5sizes of plates and 2sizes of bowls. I make rice and serve it with beans or lentils, a little chicken and vegetables or else I make noodles with egg drop soup for dinner and we eat out of the bigger bowls. Very convenient and not much cleanup.

  • […] missminimalist put forth the interesting concept of one-bowl meals — that is, eating all meals out of a single bowl. She muses that this might do the double duty of reducing dish washing while promoting mindful eating. I think this is a fun concept and definitely worth trying, but there wasn’t quite enough detail for me to create a healthy-eating philosphy out of, so I kept going. […]

  • kiah

    I am currently trying a variation of this- I use 2 bowls and wash them after I use them. The reason I use two rather than one is both practical and time saving. I originally had a pasta type bowl however the bowl was accidentally smashed when I bumped it while It was on the draining board – hence the reason I now have 2. The system works with one as long as you dont have to soak stuck on food- another reason I got 2. A noodle bowl and/or a pasta bowl cover most things.

  • Stephanie H

    If it is a bowlful I’m satisfied! I use a Pasta bowl and shard 1/2 my brunch at 11AM because it was my hubsband’s lunchtime.

  • Tina

    I love this blog. It makes me think of more things to get rid of.

  • jaye

    Last night our good friend were over and we had a bon fire and one bowl of pasta salad we passed around and ate, we each had our own spoon. It was great, I said we should do this more often, no dishes and we bonded and laughed a lot!

  • […] have noticed a trend in minimalist eating that revolves around a single bowl used for every meal. Miss Minimalist weighs in on her love of one bowl eating, noting that adapting this lifestyle would not only make […]

  • I understand in Europe, before a few hundred years ago, when you were invited to dinner, you brought your own fork, knife, and spoon. These were difficult to make and expensive before there were factories. People were either wealthy or very poor so this makes sense.

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