These Habits Will Help You Keep 4 of Your New Year’s Resolutions in the Kitchen

(Image credit: Lucy Hewett)

Did you make a New Year’s resolution in the kitchen? Perhaps you want to cook dinner more often, or pack your lunch every day. Making resolutions can be perilous — do you have the willpower to keep them? But healthy resolutions like these don’t have to be massive efforts; keeping them is the result of small daily habits.

Here are four New Year’s resolutions that some of us made this year — to cook dinner more, to pack a lunch, to eat more greens, and to use our cookbooks — and a few simple habits and suggestions for each resolution to keep them strong well into the new year.

Making New Year’s resolutions always feels like a slippery slope to me, so I tend to avoid them. Keeping them usually turns out to be tricky and tiresome, and often they’re things that don’t feel genuinely important to me. This year, though, I made an exception.

I made a couple small resolutions, both involving cooking. What makes these different is that I don’t quite see them as larger individual resolutions. Instead, they’re small, new habits. Adopting simple habits into my daily routine feels easy, realistic, and manageable. Habits have sticking power. Try it for yourself — from eating more greens and packing your lunch, to cooking from your cookbooks, use these simple habits to keep your New Year’s resolution!

Did you resolve…

1. … To Cook Dinner More Often

Home-cooked meals are satisfying and rewarding. Not to mention they’re usually healthier and a lot less expensive than restaurant meals. These four habits will help you keep your resolution.

  • Get inspired: Every week, give yourself the time to page through your favorite cookbooks or cooking magazines, scroll through food blogs, watch the latest episode of Top Chef. When you feel inspired by recipes, you’re more likely to make them.
  • Plan ahead: Cooking is so much easier when you plan ahead! Once you find recipes you want to cook, make a shopping list of all the ingredients you’ll need.
  • Grocery shop when you have time to enjoy it: Set aside one or two days a week for grocery shopping. I’m always more likely to cook when I’m not running to the grocery store every other day, and when my fridge and pantry are stocked.
  • Find a few recipes to know by heart: Cooking is easy when you have a few simple go-to weeknight recipes. Eventually you’ll make them so many times, you’ll know them by heart.
(Image credit: Faith Durand)

2. … To Pack Your Lunch

Buying lunch day after day gets expensive, and sad desk lunches are, well, just sad. If you planned to be better about packing your lunch this year, here’s a few good habits that will keep you on track.

  • Plan your lunches on Sunday: Don’t wait until it’s almost time to run out the door to think about putting together your lunch. Prepare lunches ahead. I love using the time that dinner is cooking in the oven to prep meals and snacks for the following day. Better yet, tackle lunch prep before the week even gets rolling — 5 Things I Prepare on Sunday Night for My Lunches.
  • Plan for leftovers: When you prepare dinner, always make extra so you can take the leftovers for lunch. Here are a few ideas to get you started — 10 Dinner Recipes That Make Great Lunch Leftovers.
  • Change things up: Eating the same thing for lunch day after day gets boring. Stay on track with packing your lunch by changing up what you eat. Keeping meals varied keeps them interesting.
(Image credit: Emma Christensen)

3. …To Eat More Greens

Between smoothies and juices, salads, soups, eggs, and casseroles, there’s no shortage of fun and easy ways to add more greens into your diet. Consider the recipe roundups below your invitation to new ways of eating greens. Make a few of them weekly habits and you’re there!

(Image credit: Cambria Bold)

4. …To Use Your Cookbooks

I have shelves and shelves of cookbooks, yet when I’m looking for a recipe, I always find myself flocking straight to the Internet. Not anymore! This year I’m vowing to return to my cookbooks, and here’s how I’m doing it.

  • Indulge in your cookbooks: Don’t wait until you’re ready to cook dinner to start browsing through your cookbooks. Page through your favorite book a few days to a week in advance, so you have time to shop for all the ingredients you’ll need.
  • Separate your cookbooks into two groups: weeknight and weekend cooking: Separate cookbooks into two stacks — weeknight cooking and weekend cooking. Despite your excitement to jump in, keep in mind that some cookbook recipes may call for hard-to-find ingredients, require a lot of prep time, or have a lengthy cook time. Those books are best left for weekend cooking.

What cooking resolutions have you taken on this year? How are you keeping them? Any small habits that are helping you out?