New Year’s resolutions – it’s that time of year again. The time when many of us say we’re going to change ourselves, change our lives, maybe even change the world. Some of the most popular New Year’s resolutions are to lose weight, exercise more, save money and manage debt, get a better education, and reduce stress.
Making resolutions specific increases the chance that we’ll follow through on them. Below, I have a few specific suggestions for New Year’s resolutions that shouldn’t be too hard to keep and will, I hope, be worth trying.
1) Master the basics of cooking. Proper technique improves any recipe and can make cooking more enjoyable. Stuart Stein wrote a list of the top ten techniques every cook should know (part 1 and part 2) . I would add deglazing a pan, cooking onions to the proper texture, and cooking garlic without burning it to a list of basics.
2) Find out what grows within one hundred and fifty miles of your home. Try to eat entirely locally for one week. It’s not easy, but it doesn’t have to be boring if you do a bit of homework. Eating locally not only gets you the freshest foods—and fresher means more vitamins and better flavor—it also keeps your money in the local economy. It benefits the farmer directly, since the farmer doesn’t have to share the profit with distributors and retailers, and it benefits the localities by improving the tax base.
3) Round out your repertoire. Master at least one recipe for every occasion. While you probably have recipes for the family holidays down pat – I mean, you got them from Grandma, right? – you need that quick meal for when you got caught in traffic on the way home and everyone’s starving. Or a few appetizer recipes for an impromptu gathering of friends at your place.
4) Give up junk food for a week. This one goes towards the classic “lose weight this year” New Year’s resolution. Junk food is popular for many reasons: convenience, uniformity of flavor, comfort. But one thing junk food lacks is nutritional density. While there’s nothing wrong with junk food as an occasional treat, many of us (including me) tend to reach for it too often for our health. Even making the same food at home that you can pick up at a fast food place will cut down on calories and likely increase nutrition since you’ll be selecting quality ingredients.
5) Broaden your palate. We all get stuck in a rut from time to time. Try a new vegetable or spice. If you try eating locally, you’ll probably have plenty of opportunities to experiment as you meet farmers who are testing out varieties to see what grows best and sells best in the area.