New Year; Old Habits (the good ones)

On my table right now are three notebooks opened wide, a stack of cookbooks, a laptop, two magazines, and a clipboard filled with lists and notes.

Once glance in my direction and you would have no problem believing that I am drawing up my 2019 plans. hopes. dreams. The start of a new year has inspired me immensely; it’s the way I am wired. Also, I’ve recently launched an exciting new life chapter and turning the calendar to 2019 has only fuelled my inertia.

Today’s post is to encourage you to keep up those helpful kitchen habits we covered last fall –  menu planning, meal prep and batch cooking – plus a few more super practical reminders. If I need the nudge, you just might too, so let’s revisit!

New Year; Old Habits (the good ones)

My children started school back up today after our Christmas break. Having an empty house – and quiet headspace – for the first time in weeks was all I needed to send me straight to the kitchen. I had to get organized: for the day, for the month…for the new year.

Below is a list of helpful kitchen habits I am renewing from last year. This isn’t meant to be preachy or challenge to you to do better/be better. I know you’re doing the best you can, just like the rest of us.

Instead I want to remind you of habits that have been second nature to me for over a decade now and have saved the day (by saving a meal) time and time again.

  1. Clean the Fridge. I always start here, mainly because I hate food waste, but also it’s oddly therapeutic. I plug in a podcast, fill the sink with hot, soapy water and begin. Tip: Use up those leftovers in a frittata, pan of fried rice or risotto.
  2. Plan to Cook. This seems obvious, but really, the goal is to set yourself up for wholesome family meals for the long run. Ditch the fast food coupons and takeout menus. Dust off a favourite cookbook or two and revisit those recipes you bookmarked way back when.
  3. Make a Meal Plan. If you implement one change in 2019 let it be this one. Here’s how to get started on a weekly meal plan.
  4. Meal Prep. It’s not just trendy, you can honestly set yourself up for dinnertime success by pre-processing of those groceries into ready-to-go elements for dishes throughout the week. Here’s are my best meal prep tips and suggestions.
  5. Stock the Pantry. Eight years ago one of my contributors wrote about stocking the pantry for success and here on Simple Bites we’ve been building on this practical habit ever since. Now, in January, I do a modest restock. My budget is limited, I know I won’t be entertaining very much, and I really want to use up the ingredients that have been hanging around for so long. So we also eat down the pantry and I revisit my favourite meals from the whole foods pantry.
  6. Plan to Batch Cook. Yesterday, I simmered a double batch of my Maple Pumpkin Chili (from BEJJ) in my slow cooker and it felt so good to freeze half of it for another meal. Not only does chili improve after being frozen, but that means I’ve freed up an hour or two to skate on the lake with my kids instead of cooking dinner. If you’re new to the term, batch cooking is making multiples of a dish that can be frozen and reheated.
  7. Revisit Do-Ahead/Serve Yourself Breakfasts. Once I solved our week-day breakfast dilemma (5 people, 5 breakfast slots) by dishing up serve-yourself eats, my mornings drastically improved. You may want to consider adding some of these recipes to your repertoire.

One last thing.

It feels good to dream again. This time last year I confided in you that I wasn’t feeling inspired. At all. I was tired, burnt out creatively and feeling emotionally battered. Fortunately I was able to work through that space – although it took the better part of the year.

And so, with pen and paper, today’s little list of helpful kitchen habits, a favourite no-nonsense guide for self-improvement, and an open heart, I am looking ahead to 2019 full of hope.  I feel incredibly privileged to be where I am – both in life and in Nova Scotia.

Here’s wishing you all the very best for the new year ahead. Thanks for being here and I truly mean that.

Happy New Year! May your year be filled with kitchen parties, meals shared with good friends and plenty of home cooking.

About Aimee

Cooking has always been Aimée's preferred recreational activity, creative outlet, and source of relaxation. After nearly ten years in the professional cooking industry, she went from restaurant to RSS by trading her tongs and clogs for cookie cutters and a laptop, serving as editor here at Simple Bites. Her first book, Brown Eggs and Jam Jars - Family Recipes from the Kitchen of Simple Bites, was published in February 2015.

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Comments

  1. So happy to see this post and wishing you a wonderful new year in your new home + Province…can’t wait to see what you cook up in your new location.
    I spent the morning food prepping the last remains of our fridge and hoping to go through our freezer over the next few days. It always feels oddly satisfying to do that!

  2. After reading about your Maple pumpkin chili, I finally ordered your first cookbook about two seconds ago! I’m so excited for it! I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the Simple Bites Kitchen Book. I made your Caesar salad for about the eighth time last night!

  3. I love this post so much! I’m helping my sister start meal planning for herself, and your content is such a great resource. Happy new year!

  4. Frederique says:

    This post came on point! I have been waking up an hour early every morning to read self help books, journal, do some affirmations, goals and gratitude for the year. I then exercise! It’s helped my mindset enormously and I am excited to reach my goals! One of these has been a little daunting! My naturopath wants me to cut ALL grains! And my daughter needs to cut ALL dairy! I have been crazy looking at paleo/keto sites and the such, but your post has soothed my fears a little as i am reminded that sucess with this will depend a lot on food planning and preparation! I already know that i can replace rice with cauliflower rice, pasta with spiralized zuchini and spaghetti squash, that i can have potatoes with eggs in the morning instead of bread, but i had forgotten that making sure i have those up and ready in my fridge and pantry would mean i always have a back-up plan! Thank you, and may your goals and dreams work out for you! Happy new years from Montreal!

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