If the months of the year are guests at a dinner party, January is the friend who can't stop talking about how great she feels now that she doesn't do [insert most enjoyable things here] anymore. It's admirable, but also kind of annoying. Of course you'd like to be your best self (her words, not yours), but do you have to give up so much in the process? Can't the whole thing be a little more enjoyable?
Thankfully your down-to-earth buddy February is around to keep things real. When January makes you feel like a failure, February steps in to say it's okay to take smaller steps towards your personal betterment, and it's also okay to buy a little something to help you along the way. (He's such a good guy to shop with!) With that in mind, here are five small things to buy for your kitchen next month to keep you moving positively and pleasantly through the new year.
1. Something to help you clean better.
Cleaning the kitchen is a daily necessity when you're a cook. You might not love it, but you know how much better you feel after it's done (especially if you do it before you go to bed).
Did you resolve in January to clean your kitchen every day? Then you need proper cleaning tools and pleasant scents. Are your scrub brushes old and crusty? Get a new, better one. Tired of running out of dish cloths all the time? Stock up. Looking for the best-smelling dish soap? This comes pretty close. Anything that makes cleaning more enjoyable is a worthwhile purchase and a win in our book.
2. Something to help you cook better.
Many of us change our eating or cooking habits in January — we go vegan, or Paleo, or gluten-free; we cut out alcohol and add in a daily smoothie. Sometimes those habits stick, but other times they fall away. If it's the latter, you may find you need some new inspiration come February to reorient you and get you back cooking how you want to cook.
This is the time to buy something that'll help make that happen. Restock your spices. Get a nice bottle of olive oil. Pick up a new kitchen tool or upgrade a small appliance, if you can. Think about what would improve your kitchen routines or enhance your cooking, and start there. It doesn't have to be expensive; even something as small as a the best peeler ever can do the trick.
Favorite Tools and Treats
3. Something to help you explore a new cooking interest or master a cooking skill.
Maybe your January resolution had nothing to do with restriction of any kind (good for you!), and instead you chose to explore a new cooking interest. Or maybe you're still digging yourself out from last week's blizzard (along with any good will you had, because apparently that got snowed in when you did), and desperately need a pick-me-up to get you out of the winter doldrums. If any of those are the case, it's time to treat yourself.
Buy a a sourdough starter and see where it takes you. Get a ceramic coffee cone so you can finally try pourover coffee. Buy a wok so you can master stir-frying at home. Spend the day shopping for ingredients so you can cook from Pok Pok, or any special cookbook you've been dying to get into. The world's your oyster!
4. Something to help you maintain a new habit.
It's easy to rag on January for setting the standards too high and setting you up for disappointment when you fail to meet them, but in truth, you appreciate that she challenges you to try new things. Hopefully it's not all over in February, and you've found a healthy new habit you want to keep going.
Are you finally planning out your meals and prepping ingredients for the week on Sunday, just like you've always wanted? Are you actually doing all your shopping for the week on Friday afternoon? Is your pantry still neat and organized, and it's been almost a month? Are you drinking plenty of water every day? Have you eaten dinner at the table every night (and not once on the sofa) this month?
If you're really into this new habit, don't let the momentum go! How can you keep it up? Make sure you have enough containers for your lunch prep. Upgrade your water bottle. Get your knives professionally sharpened. Get a label-maker for your pantry, and take that organization to the next level. Buy flowers for yourself as a little reward every week you keep it up!
5. Something to make you excited about winter cooking.
We are about to hit February, which can be a bleak month, leftover resolutions notwithstanding. But it is also a cozy month — a month where it's okay to cook in flannel PJs and make big pots of soup and drink tea all day long. It's good to embrace the season, and a little purchase next month can help with that.
Buy some high-quality chocolate for hot cocoa, or a thick, heavy mug you can wrap your hands around. Get a nice bottle of red wine to have with dinner (and sip on while you're cooking). Buy another bottle so you can make this rich, heavenly lamb ragu. Get that loaf pan you've been eying so you can bake bread. You're going to make it through, and you're going to be great.
How do you treat yourself in February? Are there any little things you like to buy for yourself this time of year to keep your spirits up or resolutions intact?
(Image credits: Celeste Noche; Ellie Arciaga Lillstrom; Faith Durand; Emma Christensen; Kimberley Hasselbrink)