Every day, The Washington Post’s Voraciously team doles out smart cooking advice, thoughtful recipes, robust restaurant recommendations and all manner of tips, tricks and guides related to the how, what, where and why of food.
But as much as we write about reducing food waste or the wonders of this or that ingredient, it can be hard to put all of the recommendations we tout into practice.
“Do as I say, not as I do,” as the adage goes. Just like you, we’re always thinking of some aspect of the food production process that we wish we could improve for ourselves.
With the dawn of the new year, we’re sharing some of our cooking resolutions with you – ones that we think are simple enough for us to actually accomplish.
If you’re in the market for changing any of your food habits, maybe you’ll be inspired by one of the intentions we’ve included.
1. Roast more vegetables
I have a confession: I don’t cook for myself very often. While I regularly make my way into the kitchen to develop recipes for readers, meals outside of those instances are filled with restaurant takeout and delivery, frozen dumplings, and hot dogs with microwave popcorn. (Don’t judge me.) The kitchen used to be my happy place, but more recently I’ve found myself in a bit of a cooking rut that I desperately want to escape. So instead of vowing to just “cook more,” I wanted to be more specific with a small, actionable task that I could easily manage: roasting a sheet pan of vegetables once a week (or so) with the hopes of inspiring myself to prepare something else to go with them. Even if the latter doesn’t come true, at least I’ll be increasing my vegetable intake, which is always a good thing. – Aaron Hutcherson
2. Step up my salad prep
I write about dinner recipes for the Eat Voraciously newsletter, and, especially lately, that’s meant a lot of warm soups and stews for winter. But come lunchtime, I’m often craving something fresh and full of crunch – unfortunately, I’m usually too busy to stop and build a hearty salad for myself. Sometimes all I have time for is a pile of arugula with lemon juice and olive oil, and while that’s tasty, it’s not very filling. So this year, I want to plan ahead and spend part of every Sunday steaming grains, chopping vegetables and whisking up dressings that I can then assemble into a variety of salads all week long. – G. Daniela Galarza
3. Make more quick ferments
I love fermented vegetables – kimchi, sauerkraut, pickles – but have gotten out of the habit of making them at home. This year, with books such as Julia Skinner’s new and excellent “Our Fermented Lives” to help, I want to get into the habit of making more off-the-cuff ferments, to use up vegetables that might otherwise go to waste and to create tasty snacks that my family and I can eat out of hand – and of course in sandwiches, on salads and more. They’re good for my gut biome, I know, but also really good for dinner, lunch, breakfast and anytime in between. – Joe Yonan
4. Get better at pie crusts
Anytime I can add a new dish to the rotation of dinners my son will eat, it’s a huge win. Quiche has become a new hit. The problem? I’m bad at pie crusts, no matter what technique or recipe I use. And I consider myself an accomplished baker! I’ve gotten so into my head about pie crusts that I’ve lost all instinct. A recent attempt was so bad I actually had to toss it. Part of me wants to give up and just buy store-bought, but I hate being defeatist. And I’d like to be able to whip up a crust when we need one for dinner, without the trip to the store. They say practice makes perfect, but I’d take passable over perfect. It’s nice to have goals. – Becky Krystal
5. Get as cosy with tofu as I am with chicken
When I was first on my own and money was tight, I would pick up chicken breasts whenever they were on sale. Now, I’m more likely to buy thighs, but for the same reason: They are not pricey, and the mild meat is a blank canvas that I don’t need a recipe to tackle. I’m so comfortable with them that I can easily make a skillet dinner, a stir-fry or a sandwich. I want to develop that same ease and familiarity with tofu. I rarely buy tofu unless I’m testing recipes, or want to offer a plant-based substitute for meat or to try one of Joe Yonan’s delicious-sounding recipes. In 2023, as I lean into more plant-based eating, I have resolved to embrace tofu, which is high in protein, includes essential amino acids and, like chicken, offers that same mild base for recipes. I’ll air-fry it, sauce it, slip into soups – the sky’s the limit. – Ann Maloney
6. Meal-plan for more seamless dinners
My least favourite phrase in the English language is, “What’s for dinner?” It instantly puts me in a bad mood and makes cooking feel like a chore. And that’s coming from someone who jettisoned a career in finance to become a food writer (talk about following your bliss). My love of developing recipes aside, the very last thing I want to do after a demanding day of work is make a meal – and then have to clean it up. But before I even get to that stage, I need to know what I’m cooking, and the time to figure that out for my very tired brain is not 5 p.m. So I hope that every Saturday afternoon, I’ll sit down and figure out what I want to cook that week, shop for groceries on Sunday and maybe – if I’m super on top of it – prep a few ingredients to make cooking week night meals faster and easier. Maybe I’ll treat myself to a shiny new notebook just for this purpose to encourage myself to stick with the goal. – Olga Massov
7. Slow down in the kitchen
Most nights, the meal that sounds best to me is the one I can make quickly and with minimal effort. I’ve mastered the art of scrounging up odds and ends in my pantry and refrigerator and turning them into dinner in under an hour, and most times I’m satisfied with the results. But this year, I want to slow down. It can be difficult to be intentional about cooking with all of life’s competing demands, but some of my favourite dishes are ones that require preparation, time and care. I envision making big batches of pierogi or tamales over the weekend, or skipping the cans and soaking beans the night before so they can simmer a few hours before supper. Any chance I get to luxuriate in the process of preparing a dish, I’m going to take it. – Anna Luisa Rodriguez
8. Cook deeper into cookbooks
Cracking open a new cookbook is a joyful experience for me. I love flipping through and bookmarking the recipes that call out on first glance. But once I’ve found a few reliable favourites, I too often find myself remaking those recipes rather than exploring more of what a book has to offer. So this year, with a few new titles on my shelf, my goal is to cook deeper into my cookbooks. Rather than gravitating toward full dinners or desserts, I want to explore the apps, sides and sauces that will inspire me to vary my meals. I want to make more of the recipes that didn’t get the glossy photo treatment. While I don’t have the ambition to cook every single recipe in a book (as a friend is currently doing with a baking tome), I’m making a pact with myself to push beyond the bookmarks. – Matt Brooks
9. Waste less food
I’ve been pretty good about tossing less food lately, but I hope to double down on my conservation efforts in 2023. I relish the challenges that await me in my pantry and fridge. A few remaining drops of honey or vanilla might end up in my morning cereal, and the last bites of kimchi from the farmers market can add pleasant crunch to sandwiches, leftover rice and omelets. I’m a fool for good anchovies, which I tend to overbuy. If I’m down to just a couple of fish, I gift them to the four-legged garbage disposal in the house. Everybody wins! – Tom Sietsema
10. Cook down my freezer(s)
A few years ago, I bought a small freezer to help with a freelance job I had, and when it was over and the 20 quarts of gelato I had made for the job were gone, I saw it as a chance to relieve the stress on my jam-packed primary freezer. That happened, but the effect was temporary: Within a couple of weeks, I had merely doubled my capacity for keeping food in a state of suspended procrastination. Now both freezers are filled to the brim with bulk proteins bought with frugality in mind, unmarked leftovers and various flavours of homemade broth (and scraps that will be ingredients for the next batch). Freezers are a great tool but one I’m not using with the efficiency I’d prefer. So as we head to the new year, my intent is to make a habit of taking things out of them before I try to wedge more into them. – Jim Webster