One of the reasons I really like linux is that generally you can choose what you want to install, the granularity available isn’t as much as it once was but it is still relatively easy to keep the number of packages installed to a minimum by not installing the recommended packages.
By default Debian will install all the additional packages marked as recommended, and though occasionally leaving out a recommended package can cause a problem it doesn’t happen often (the only example I’ve come across recently is the nvidia-driver package) and you can save a lot of disk space by not installing the recommended packages and using localepurge to remove the locale (language) files you don’t need.
To control the packages installed by apt you need to create the following config file.
# nano /etc/apt/apt.conf.d/10norecommends
Then you need to paste the two lines below into the file; the first line tells apt not to install the recommended packages; the second tells apt not to install the suggested packages.
APT::Install-Recommends "0"; APT::Install-Suggests "0";