Uh oh, it’s that time of the year again, when everyone on your social media feeds is chronicling their 2022 “health journey.” While we’ll never begrudge folks for caring about their physical health, the unfortunate side effect of these kinds of New Year’s resolutions is toxic diet culture, something we famously hate. But that doesn’t mean we don’t want to incorporate food into our own annual display of betterment—we love food!
There are plenty of ways to attempt to change the way you eat without giving in to the mantras in those sponsored Instagram posts. Try setting some low-pressure food goals for 2022 with a focus on trying new things and bringing a little joy into your kitchen.
Meals don’t have to be bland or boring—why not turn trying something new into an event. Take one night a week or a month to pair a cuisine with art from that culture. Read Crying in H Mart while trying that new Korean takeout place in your neighborhood. Try your hand at whipping up a French soufflé while listening to Serge Gainsbourg. Enjoy a glass of rioja wine while watching the latest Pedro Almodóvar film.
If you want to leave the menu in someone else’s hands, why not a game of Takeout Roulette? Find a trusted friend (or for a more interesting surprise, an arch nemesis) and order dinner for each other. You won’t know what you’ll be enjoying for your meal until it arrives, and might discover a new favorite restaurant or dish in the process.
No more moldy meals in plastic tubs in the back of your fridge in 2022! Before grocery shopping or ordering out, take a long hard look at what you already have and make a meal of that instead. This can be turned into something fun, too: Give yourself a Chopped-style challenge to make something delicious with the random ingredients you never seem to touch. You’ll either get rid of them for good or find a fun new recipe for next time.
When you do get to shopping, look into alternatives from the grocery store, like CSA boxes, farmers markets, and low- to zero-waste shops and pantries. If you use reusable bags and jars when you hit those spots you’ll cut down on packaging, and supporting local growers and makers not only gives back to your neighbors, but significantly reduces carbon emissions in the long run.
Trying out a vegan lifestyle, but struggling to give up cheese? Want to cook more but your dishes aren’t exactly Instagram ready? Hoping to support the local cafe but still feel the pull of the Dunkin’? That’s all okay! One of the biggest mistakes of making any resolution is putting so much pressure on yourself to keep an impossible goal that you give up on it entirely.
This year, be easy on yourself. If you’re only eating truly vegan just a few days a month, that’s still more than you were before! Cooking takes a lot of practice, and you’re likely going to have plenty of ugly and maybe even ugly tasting dishes before you can churn out beef wellingtons. Start simple with recipes and don’t feel like you need to diversify your personal menu too much—if you’re great at cooking one thing, that’s amazing! And who among us hasn’t fallen prey to Dunkin’s siren song? If it makes you happy, embrace it.
Whatever food resolutions you decide to set for yourself this year, remember, they’re supposed to make you feel better, not worse. Sound off in the comments with more culinary goals for 2022.