Twelve New Year's Food Resolutions for 2012

Starting Small

It's that time again--time for the often ill-fated, sweeping promises to ourselves and time for the late-January guilt that follows on their abandonment.

Telling yourself you're going to exercise more (and I am, I am, I am!) may not be sustainable, but a baby step might be more successful. I am going to go for one twenty-minute walk twice a week. Or, I will always take the stairs unless I am late.

Unlike exercise resolutions, making a food resolution doesn't involve any membership fees, sweaty handgrips, new Lycra wardrobes, expensive shoes, or fighting over weight machines. In fact, you may find the achievement of one New Year's Food Resolution so painlessly do-able that you add another along about February, and then one more in March. Eating better is incremental. We make one change and never go back, so with each additional adjustment we are further and further along the road to better nutrition and family health.

So give one of these suggestions a spin. Bookmark this post so that you can come back and add another in a couple weeks. Or work on your one resolution all 2012 and call it good. Either way you'll be that much better off. Feel free to add a Food Resolution in the comments if I forgot any!

  1. Cook one more meal per week. This one saves the gut and the pocketbook. If you already cook every night, pick a different resolution!
  2. Cook one more vegetarian meal per week. Black bean burritos. Soup. Pasta Pomodoro. Baked potato bar.
  3. Cook one meal per week entirely from leftovers or pantry/refrigerator stores. In our house we call it Smorgasbord of Leftovers or Clean-Out-the-Fridge Night.
  4. Take a Knife Skills class. If you're not crazy about cooking, this small investment will increase your confidence.
  5. Learn to cut up a chicken. Not only is buying a whole chicken more earth-friendly, but you can satisfy varying desires for light meat and dark meat around your table. Buying Skagit River Ranch chickens is what made me learn. No more bags of Tyson saline-injected, inhumanely-farmed chicken breasts!
  6. Learn to make one food that you normally buy processed. Be it Hamburger Helper or canned soup or cake mix. Just one. Once you taste the difference and compare the ingredient lists, you'll hate to go back. Cake mixes, canned biscuits, brownie mixes, and the like all got the boot from my pantry a few years ago, and we haven't looked back.
  7. Avoid one genetically-modified food. Most soybeans, non-organic corn, and "canola" is genetically-modified. I'm ditching canola oil this year. Soybeans and non-organic corn were eliminated in past years, insofar as possible. Most chocolate contains soy lecithin as an emulsifier, so 100% elimination is out for us. Fermented and traditionally-processed soy are still okay with us (organic tofu and soy sauce). It's the soybean oil (usually labeled "vegetable oil") and soy protein I stay away from.
  8. Replace one fruit/vegetable from the "Dirty Dozen" with one from the "Clean Fifteen." Buying organic fruits and vegetables can be expensive and isn't necessary in all cases. In fact, a family could stay in-budget well by only eating from the less-pesticide-laden options. If you can't bear to give up that one fruit, if it's on the Dirty Dozen list, make the switch to organic.
  9. Cut out one non-local, out-of-season fruit or vegetable in favor of something local and/or seasonal. My kids groan, but I don't buy out-of-season berries from California (or even farther away). Those strawberries that are huge as tennis balls and taste about the same? No way. We'll stick with our Washington pears and apples in the off-season, or delve into the Bellevue Farmers Market berries that I froze.
  10. Eat one more serving of vegetables a day. Amazing how tough this can be to do. I try to have two vegetable options per dinner: one salad and one steamed something. Or else I'll steam two different vegetables. Or stir-fry whatever I've got in the bin and eat two helpings of it. (One serving equals about half a cup.)
  11. Replace one protein source with its wild/grass-fed/humanely-raised equivalent. If your budget can't afford a wholesale switch to wild salmon, pastured beef, or happily-raised chicken or pork, pick the protein that gives you the most heeby-jeebies when you watch the videos. Yes, the good options are pricier. This isn't all bad (see Resolution #2).
  12. Plant something. Your favorite herb, a summer tomato plant, some carrots. Actually I leave this resolution to my husband because there is no plant I can't kill. Possibly I might consider an edible cactus...

Happy New Year and good eating!