10 Kitchen Resolutions for a Happy, Delicious 2016

10 Kitchen Resolutions

Happy new year! I’ve always loved the blank-slate feel of early January: while it’s a great time to reflect on everything you’re already doing right (you rock!), it’s also an invitation to form new and better habits to shape the year ahead and improve our lives.

So I offer you 10 kitchen resolutions, inspiring but approachable, to make you a better cook and eater this year. Please add yours in the comments below, or share on social media with the hashtag #cnzresolutions, and I will retweet and repost my favorites.

#1: Make the most of the cookbooks you already own

Make the most of the cookbooks you already own

Not sure how to mine the amazing trove of inspiration gathering dust on your kitchen bookshelf? Here are 6 tips to make the most of your cookbooks.

#2: Save your scraps for stock

Save your scraps for stock

Start a stock box in your freezer to collect any vegetable scraps and leftover bones, so you can make delicious bone broth, completely free.

#3: Really taste your chocolate

Really taste your chocolate

No more scarfing down chocolate mindlessly! Read those tips on how to (really) taste chocolate so all your senses experience the bliss. It’s so worth it.

#4: Plan your meals

Plan your meals

Planning your meals doesn’t have to be a bore or a hassle. With my best meal planning tips and tricks, you’ll save time, money, and energy — and eat really well.

#5: Keep your greens fresh

Keep your greens fresh

Can you name one thing more depressing than finding your greens have gone limp and moldy at the bottom of your fridge? Here’s the easy way I keep them fresh.

#6: Declutter your pantry

Declutter your pantry

It’s crazy the amount of stuff that accumulates in a pantry if you let it. The new year is the ideal time to take inventory, and commit to using things up before you buy anything new. Want to know my magic trick for dealing with those odd nuts and dried fruits leftover from baking projects? Hint: it involves chocolate.

#7: Keep your knives sharp

Keep your knives sharp

Hacking away at fruits and vegetables with a dull knife is not just frustrating, it’s dangerous. Invest in a quality knife sharpener, or find a professional near you who’ll take care of your blades. Here’s where to get your knives sharpened in Paris.

#8: Keep a reusable shopping bag on hand

Always have a reusable shopping bag on hand

By now you probably own a dozen reusable shopping bags, but they don’t do the environment much good if you don’t actually, you know, use them. Make it a habit to keep one on you wherever you go — in your purse, backpack, diaper bag, car, you get the idea. Mine are from Flip & Tumble and I a.d.o.r.e. them. (Remember to wash your bags regularly, to avoid the festering of bacteria. Yum.)

#9: Eat more plants

Eat more plants

If there is one thing you do this year for your health, your looks, and the planet, make it this: fill your plate with a colorful and seasonal variety of plant-based foods. Besides, there’s nothing tastier.

#10: Entertain more (but think simple)

Entertain more (but more simply)

Entertaining is like playing an instrument: the more you do it, the better you get, the more you enjoy it. But if you think dinner parties have to be a huge production, you’re probably exhausted just thinking about it. I say, keep it simple. Invite a small number of guests and be completely comfortable serving easy dishes (such as these amazing five-ingredient recipes), but try to get into a rhythm and have people over on a regular basis — whatever’s realistic for you. Nothing will illuminate your year like lively conversations over shared meals.

Join the conversation!

Will you be setting any kitchen intentions for 2016? Share them in the comments below or on social media with the hashtag #cnzresolutions! I will retweet and repost my favorites.

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  • Love the simplicity and obvious nature of all of these. It’s a great reminder that we tend to overlook the simple things in our rush to ‘score’ major victories: over ourselves, over our kitchens, over our natural inclinations.

  • Kim W


    I’m in an especially inspired place to do so, as I’ve just gotten back home from a trip to Paris (I think I mentioned it a couple posts back?), and had a carrot soup that was a damn revelation in a bistro on my last day there and came home thinking MUST TRY TO MAKE THAT, but – also because I did just come back from Paris – I’m on a wee bit of a budget now and need to focus on “use what you’ve got” rather than “go splurge on all the things”.

    Plus my current roommate is a food historian from Brussels and she is absolutely putting me to shame when it comes to being diligent about cooking more.

    I would actually add an 11th resolution, though – “try making one new dish that you’ve always wanted to make but secretly thought was too tricky so you never tried it”. I just tried making creme brulee for the first time – I always thought it was a little too tricky – but I gave it a try and holy hell it worked. Yay!

    • Congrats on conquering that crème brûlée fear! I agree — very, very few things are too tricky to make once you set your mind to it.

  • Love this and totally needed it especially as a new mom with a newborn. I think this will keep us on track :)

    • Congratulations on the baby! I think the only resolution when you have a newborn in the house should be: “Whatever works.” :)

  • Clinton Davidson

    On sharpening knives: if you go into a friend’s house and find they have dull knives, try sharpening with a coffee mug: http://food-hacks.wonderhowto.com/how-to/turn-your-favorite-coffee-cup-into-makeshift-knife-sharpener-tune-up-dull-kitchen-blades-0148311/

    My caveats would be to use a 22 degree angle instead of 45, and be sure to sharpen along the entire blade, else you risk making your knife concave.

    Going further, I’d say that part of being a craftsman (if I may use that term) is to learn safety, materials, tools, and techniques. Showing respect for your tools shows respect for your craft.

  • Clinton Davidson

    On entertaining more: It may be strange to offer this in a food blog, but the advice in this column: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/27/dining/in-the-end-its-not-about-the-food.html is sound- the primary goal is not to compete with a chef, but to make your guests feel welcome. If the food is good, you won’t have to ask, you’ll hear it when moans replace conversation.

    “I hope my approach to hosting doesn’t come across as didactic or officious. It’s all intended toward a singular goal: making sure that other people have a good time. I don’t care if you put your elbows on the table. I care only that you are happy.”

  • Clinton Davidson

    Re declutter: consider making things easier to reach in the first place, as with sliding shelves: http://www.amazon.com/Lynk-Professional-Roll-Out-Cabinet-Drawer/dp/B000SP02RS.
    While this may seem pricy for something you can do yourself, consider that small improvements can be the difference between using something or keeping it shoved to the back. It’s like the mobile apps on your phone: the ones that require extra clicks get discarded.

    • That’s a great point. I agree that part of my equipment that doesn’t get used, doesn’t get used because on the day I could be using them, I am turned off by the fact that I have to rummage through the cabinet to get it. I do have some of those sliding shelves (from IKEA!) but my messiest cabinet is one that doesn’t open fully because the dishwasher is in the way (ah, the charm of tiny Paris kitchens!) so sliding shelves would not actually slide out. :)

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