The Ultimate New Year's Resolution Shopping Guide
Everything you need to cook more, eat healthier, and master new recipes in 2018.
The new year is here, and odds are, you've made some big New Year's resolutions involving food. Of course, as many have experienced, resolving to prioritize healthier eating, more frequent cooking, and saving money by making your own coffee and lunch is easy enough—it's keeping that resolve going throughout the year and beyond that's the challenge. Fortunately, you don't have to do it alone. Here are five services, apps, and products that will make it easy to make your New Year's food resolutions into a permanent part of your routine.
I resolve to cook more at home.
As far as New Year's food resolutions go, simply cooking more often can cover a whole lot of ground. But if the prospect of preparing more meals every month, week, or even day is already starting to overwhelm, try adding some versatile kitchen gadgets to your arsenal that will save you valuable time and effort by key techniques easier, and often, faster.
If you haven't got one yet, the Instant Pot ($120) is rapidly growing from cult favorite to general kitchen fixture, and with good reason: it'll help you make everything from carnitas to yoghurt to pho. Especially with the help of fan favorite cookbooks like Janet Zimmerman's Instant Pot Obsession ($12). Similarly, the coveted Vitamix Blender ($400) isn't just the best professional-quality blender out there; it'll make those morning smoothies and nighttime soups easier than ever.
I resolve to save money by making my own coffee.
All those lattes can add up, so cutting down on those daily coffee shop trips by making your own is another resolution that won't just help your wallet, but bring you the joy of making your own great cup of Joe.
First, naturally, is to have some good coffee beans to work with. The options are virtually limitless, but a good start would be La Colombe's FEED Heritage Blend ($17), which tastes great, and is part of a program provides 10 school meals in underserved communities with your purchase—and even more so when included in Williams Sonoma's full FEED gift crate ($90). Or if you want to expand your palate, a subscription service like Atlas Coffee Club can help you explore the coffee world.
While the prospect of grinding whole coffee beans like this may seem intimidating, it's worth the effort, and much easier than you think. Cusinart's Grind 7 Brew Coffeemaker ($150) includes a built-in, customizable grinder, inside a coffee maker that is most likely a major upgrade to your current drip device, though something like Quiseen's One-Touch Grinder ($16) is also a good entry point.
But if you're anything like me, the biggest obstacles towards coffee savings back in 2017 wasn't so much making the coffee as finding a way to actually drink it on my morning commute. That is, until I got Zojirushi's incredible Travel Mug ($25). It's not just spill-free and easy to carry and drink from on a crowded subway, but somehow keeps drinks mouth-burningly hot for, seriously, four hours at a time.
I resolve to learn new kitchen skills.
Nearly every chef recommends some good cast iron, so if you've been putting that off, 2018 is the time to finally get the universal favorite that is Lodge's 12-inch skillet ($41 with hand-protecting silicone handle). Plus, knowing that each meal is further improving the seasoning of a pan you'll own for the rest of your life can provide some extra motivation to cook even more, which, in a virtuous culinary cycle, will help you get extra experience and improve further.
Even more critical, though, is coming to truly understand the art and science of cooking itself. I found that Samin Nosrat's cookbook Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking, with illustrations from Wendy MacNaughton, goes beyond recipes to teach how cooking actually works, in ways that are both more easily understandable and more detailed than I've ever experienced. Given that her students include people like Michael Pollan, you'll be in good company.
I resolve to bring lunch to work (and plan meals).
Whether your goal is to cut down on cafeteria visits, or avoid an extra hour of pre-cooking night grocery shopping, meal planning will save money and give you more control over what you eat. And there are a ton of tools to help.
For those who prefer physical documents, there's a Meal Planning Notebook ($6), Disposable Notepad ($6), or Fridge Mounted Dry Erase Board Planner ($12) for you. If you're more app-inclined, Pepperplate lets you manage recipes, create menus, plan and share meals, and create shopping lists all from the comfort of your computer and/or phone.
As for the meals themselves, a good Meal Prep Container Kit ($20) will be airtight, microwave and freezer safe, and let you store all the different components of meals, whether they're tonight's leftovers, or tomorrow's lunch. And when you do start bringing those lunches to work, Lifewit's Insulated Lunch Box ($25) is a convenient, stylish way to transport your masterpieces. Which, depending on what they are, you can eat with a quality Travel Flatware Set ($15), Reusable Chopstick Set ($10), or Soup Soon ($7).
I resolve to eat healthier.
And finally, it's that perennial New Year's food resolution: eat healthier. The previous four resolutions will help get you there, as cooking more, better, and with more control make it easier to achieve more affordable and better-tasting meals, more frequently, but there's plenty more you can do, too.
As you've probably been told your whole life, it's always good to commit to getting more fruits and vegetables into your day, and what better way than to ensure you're getting a steady haul of fresh produce than by joining a CSA? To help those new fruits and veggies last long enough to use (and keep your fridge organized), store them in some new Produce Saver Food Containers ($20).
Meanwhile, whether your healthy eating goals involve reducing meat consumption, or cutting it entirely, as a fake meat connoisseur I can say that Beyond Meat's Beyond Burger ($5 on Amazon, if you can't find it locally) is a delicious way to ease the transition for even the most committed carnivore.
Ultimately, though, it whatever you're eating, the best way to stay healthy is to learn how to cook it. Fortunately, many of the greatest chefs out there have made health-minded cooking their focus in recent years, and are just as dedicated to making their expertise accessible to resolute cooks like you.
Seamus Mullen's new cookbook Real Food Heals: Eat to Feel Younger and Stronger Every Day ($22) details how a star chef reinvented his cuisine to successfully overcome a serious health crisis. Or if you love bowls, The Sprouted Kitchen Bowl and Spoon: Simple and Inspired Whole Foods Recipes to Savor and Share by Sara Forte of The Sprouted Kitchen is a Food & Wine office favorite. And finally, you can't go wrong with a classic: Mollie Katzen's The Moosewood Cookbook: 40th Anniversary Edition ($16) is still being reprinted all those decades later with good reason, and 2018 is a great year for newly-healthy home cooks to finally start finding out why.