Every year the world pauses to count down the seconds until midnight, ushering out the old year and welcoming in a new one. There is something appealing about starting fresh every year, walking into January with a clean slate.
We talk about New Year’s Resolutions every year, but so often, these goals flop by February, because they aren’t realistic. We don’t make room in our lives for us to succeed.
Here are some smaller ideas and rhythms to add to our lives. These ideas might feel small, but they are attainable, and making room for them will make a big difference in the way your year ends up looking. These are kitchen resolutions worth keeping.
Learn a new dish.
Last year, I decided that I was going to learn how to make sourdough bread. I got some starter from a neighbor, found a few different recipes, and began to experiment. Every week, I made a new batch of bread.
Some weeks, the dough flopped terribly and I ended up with mushy flatbread. Others, I ended up with a wonderful rise and bake. Regardless of the individual results along the way, it felt so good to learn a new skill and do something a bit more technical in the kitchen. This year, I’m planning to experiment a little more with fish-based dishes.
Trying something new in the kitchen is sometimes all you need to make cooking fun and interesting again. Don’t be afraid to mess up or to be out of your depth for a while. You might just add a new skill to your repertoire in the process.
Cook for someone else.
Few things can say that you care about someone the way that food does. When I had both of my daughters, friends kept me fed with homemade dish after dish for six weeks. It was an incredible gift to not have to cook with a newborn, and it made me feel loved and cared for by my friends.
Resolve this year to make someone’s day with a home-cooked meal, dessert, or other treat. Take something to that first-time mom, that hurting friend, or new neighbor. This labor of love speaks so loudly.
Invite someone new to your table.
Our lives so often feel far too busy and yet so isolated. We pack our days tight with work, to-do lists, errands, and activities for our children. I have found there is no better way for me to both slow myself down and connect with others than to gather around the dinner table.
Eating dinner together is a top priority for my family. One of the best ways I’ve found to get to know somebody else is to invite them over for dinner. It can feel a little awkward to put yourself out there and invite that coworker or neighbor over, but for me, this has always been so rewarding. When we slow down over a shared meal, I find that we are able to connect and enjoy each other in a new way.
We try to invite someone new to our table once a quarter. To ensure this actually happens, I circle on my calendar the days we are be available to cook and host a dinner a month ahead of time, and then in the weeks beforehand think about who I could invite and what they would enjoy eating.
Try making it from scratch.
I was dating my husband when I first found out that macaroni and cheese didn’t have to be made with a box mix. Learning how to make it from scratch was so rewarding for me that I am now constantly looking for other ways to do the same with other foods I have always bought in a box. In the years since, I’ve learned how to make my own pickles, croissants, pasta, mayonnaise, pizza, and pie crust.
I don’t always have time for the “from scratch” version of these foods, but when I do, it is a rich, enjoyable experience. Take a look at what you buy on a weekly basis. Could any of it be made from scratch? Try it sometime and see how much better it can taste.
Actually eat healthier.
Isn’t this everyone’s New Year resolution, every year? And yet this one always feels like the hardest to keep. After overdoing it on the holiday sweets and desserts, most of us feel ready for a food reset in January. Rather than jumping on a fad diet that will fail by February, maybe we can approach healthy eating differently.
What simple new rhythms or swaps can you incorporate into your already-full schedule? Maybe it’s adding more vegetables to your dinner plate, or swapping in fruit for more processed carb-filled snacks. One friend of mine decided to replace the soda she was drinking with water. She lost weight and felt better without trying to totally upheave her lifestyle.
This year, I hope you grow in confidence and comfort in the kitchen, that you learn some new skills, and that you use your kitchen and your talent as a venue for hospitality and friendship. Happy New Year!
Rachael Dymski is an author, florist, and mom to two little girls. She is currently writing a novel about the German occupation of the Channel Islands and blogs on her website, RachaelDymski.com