Bad habits are hard to break, but maybe that's because we're thinking about them all wrong. What if it's less about breaking a bad habit than it is about making space for something better? Here are five ideas for small, simple changes you can make to help you feel better about yourself and your kitchen this summer.
1. Keep your water filter filled.
You need more water to stay hydrated in summer, since you lose more to body heat, but if you're like me, you tend to wait until the filtered water pitcher is almost empty before you refill it. One simple trick to break the habit is to pour a glass of tap water into the pitcher before you pour yourself a fresh, cold, filtered glass. It's an easy way to train yourself to keep your pitcher topped off.
2. Put things back in their place.
For most people, clutter accumulates on counters primarily because objects aren't put back in their proper place after use. There's also a case to be made that it's more convenient, but remember that everything you keep out has to be moved whenever you clean or need to make space for prep work. That can add up to a lot of work just to make your counters usable. Simplify your summer cooking routine by putting things back after you use them and resisting the urge to keep everything in plain sight.
3. Use your leftovers.
Summer party season brings leftovers. You can get through a lot of watermelon slices and still have half a melon left in the fridge, but all those leftovers don't have to go to waste! This roundup offers a helpful guide to using up almost every type of summer food.
4. Replace worn-out cleaning supplies.
Sponges and washcloths are breeding grounds for bacteria, which can lead to summer colds — the worst! Sponges can be neutralized by microwaving for two minutes. Alternatively, you can soak them in white vinegar for five minutes or even dry them out in the sun, but make it a habit to replace your sponges monthly. As for those washcloths and dish towels, use one washcloth for countertops and one for drying hands, and put them both through the washer and dryer weekly.
5. Wipe down your sink every day.
Try this mental trick to break a dirty dish habit: Instead of focusing on getting the dishes clean, make a priority of shining your sink daily. I'm not exactly sure why this works; it might be the satisfaction that comes from seeing a clean sink rather than just a drying rack full of dishes? Once the dishes are done, run hot water through the sink and wipe it down with a sponge and a little dish soap. If you have a stainless steel sink, rubbing a teaspoon of olive oil onto the surface with a dry dishtowel can really help it shine.