Here’s the thing about change: It’s hard! And you know what? It’s even harder when it’s cold outside and the days are short and you’ve got an emotional (or actual) holiday hangover and suddenly you’re trying to make all these huge life-altering changes. Our advice: Pace yourself. Do one thing a month — every month — and you’re guaranteed to feel happier, healthier, and more at peace in your kitchen.
1. January: Clean your kitchen.
I know spring is technically the time for cleaning, but if you’re looking to make any changes to the way you cook and eat in 2019, it starts in your kitchen. A clean kitchen (and I’m talking about clean-behind-the-refrigerator-kind-of-clean) gives you a blank slate, a fresh start, and even some insight to who you are as a cook.
You might discover, for example, that you are a person who buys a lot of tea, but never drinks it. Or you may retrieve a rolling pin which you thought had lost and that motivates you to work on your pie-making skills. Even if you don’t make any major revelations, you will definitely not feel worse when your kitchen looks all shiny and new.
2. February: Add something beautiful to your kitchen.
In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, give your kitchen — and yourself — a little bit of love by adding something beautiful. It could be a piece of art, a vase for fresh flowers (and the promise to fill it as often as you can), or really anything that brings you joy.
3. March: Plant some seeds.
This is the month when you really, desperately want it to be warm, but it’s still cold and brutal outside — and no, you definitely cannot put your big winter jacket away. So, plant some seeds and watch them grow (as they say) while you wait for the thaw outside. Try something that will bring a little spring into your life, but is still relatively easy to grow indoors — like chives or mint.
4. April: Make a food budget.
Chances are you’re already dealing with money matters (tax day is April 15!), so why not take it as an opportunity to finally (finally) make yourself a food budget? But first, pour yourself a big glass of your favorite wine.
5. May: Invite your friends into your kitchen.
A full kitchen is a happy kitchen, period. And it doesn’t have to be a formal to-do. Invite your best pal to cook with you on any given weeknight. Throw together something easy and just enjoy each other’s company.
6. June: Get your kitchen ready for summer.
Yes, this is kind of like cleaning and we know that you already did this. But summer is coming and you’re going to want to make room for all the good things you’re going to be buying at the farmers market (see below). Focus on throwing out anything past its due date and retire (or at least relocate) any bulky small appliances you’re not using.
7. July: Buy all the fruits and vegetables.
If there is ever a time to eat your veggies (and your fruits), it’s in peak summer when the farmers market is basically bursting with all of the things. If you need encouragement, treat yourself to a smart new tote bag — and bonus points for trying something you’ve never cooked with before.
8. August: Give your kitchen a rest.
Sometimes you need a break from your kitchen, like when it’s too damn hot to even think about turning on the oven. Think outside the kitchen: If you have a grill, use it. If you have a fire pit, use it. If you have a slow cooker, use it. (You get the idea). If you want to burn some incense in your kitchen to mark the occasion, we support you.
9. September: Learn something new.
You know that chicken dish that you make over and over (and over) again? You should still make it — but maybe you should try something different. Buy yourself a new cookbook, sign up for a cooking class, or just surf the web (ahem, this site) for something that looks really yummy.
10. October: Buy a gel kitchen mat.
Fact: Anti-fatigue kitchen mats are not the prettiest, but October is the time to get one because, chances are, you’re going to be in the kitchen a lot in the next couple of months. So just buy one already — and cover it with a cute rug if the looks of it bug you that much.
11. November: Stock your freezer.
We mean this one very literally: Take that Thanksgiving turkey, make stock out of it, and store it in quart containers in your freezer. You’ll have a rich, full-bodied base for all sorts of wintery soups and stews ready and waiting for you.
12. December: Make it easier to eat healthfully.
This is the month of all the holiday parties and all the holiday cookies and all the holiday shopping and it’s easy (so easy!) to end up ordering takeout or eating popcorn for dinner. We say, make it just as easy to eat healthfully. Include some healthy snacks in your meal planning, and consider treating yourself to a meal delivery kit for a week or two. It might break the budget a little, but your January self will thank you.