Food52 Life

57 Small Things to Do for Yourself This Coming Year

December 26, 2016

Day 28 of 30 Days of Thoughtful Giving: start something small.

Raise your hand if you're already worried about drifting from your new year's resolution.

Photo by James Ransom

The thing with resolutions is that they can be so huge (Run a marathon! Learn to cook! Travel more!) that they can be hard to keep them, let alone benefit from their everyday effects. This year, we're condensing some of our biggest resolutions into smaller, achievable goals that are as rewarding as they are enjoyable. Here are 57 small things to do for yourself in 2016:

1. Cook with red wine—then drink the rest of the bottle with dinner.

Photo by James Ransom

2. Make a beautiful meal, even if you have no one to feed but yourself.

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Top Comment:
“If you're too busy with work, parties, etc., during the week, keep in mind that soup kitchens serve meals on the weekends, including breakfast. Help someone else learn to cook. Even if you're fairly new at it, offer to someone else who's also learning to answer questions, or to help find answers. For every purchase you make on the Food52 ecommerce site, donate an equal amount to a local food bank or organization trying to make the lives of foster children a little better. Deliver freshly-baked (by you) treats to a home-bound elderly person in your neighborhood. Take a few minutes to chat with them when you drop the goodies off. If you think these suggestions are off the topic of "do this for yourself," well, think again.”
— Mrs B.
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3. Make homemade chicken or vegetable broth whenever you have the chance. (Don't let your food—or money—go to waste!)

4. Buy yourself at least one piece of cookware you love and will use often.

5. Order take-out when necessary—then try to make your order from scratch, at home, the next week.

6. Keep portioned servings of pasta sauce in the refrigerator for nights when you just can't even.

7. Cook something you never thought you could cook before.

8. Invite a completely new person over for dinner—a new coworker, your neighbor—and share your favorite dish with them.

9. When making salad dressing, splurge and use high-quality olive oil.

10. Exchange more recipes with friends and family.

11. Take the time to perfect and tweak a recipe until it's exactly how you want it.

12. Treat yourself to a cookbook—then make a feast of the five most delicious-sounding recipes.

13. Make a roast chicken for a Sunday lunch and wash it down with a glass of rosé.

14. Host a dinner where you spend twice as long talking at the table as you did preparing it.

15. Create a dish that you become known for.

16. Do things backwards once in a while: Eat burgers in the winter and braise in the summer.

17. Eat seasonally whenever possible.

18. Cook yourself a lunch so good you look forward to it all morning.

19. Celebrate a holiday you've never celebrated before, even if it's not from your own culture.

20. Once in a while, splurge and cook with only the best ingredients—homemade broth, farmers market vegetables, and locally raised animals.

21. Go to a restaurant you've been looking forward to trying, then maximize the experience by drawing inspiration from the best things they serve you.

22. Cook what you want—even if the occasion calls for something else.

23. Learn to master your favorite cocktail.

24. The next time you have a snack, make your hummus from scratch and season it exactly how you like it. (Double-garlic, here we come.)

25. Spend the time hunting down unfamiliar ingredients for a recipe you're excited about.

26. Whenever possible, eat dessert that's made in your own kitchen—it will often taste better and be better.

27. Get to know the farmers at your farmers market, and let them dictate your menu once in a while.

28. Have an indulgent night at home.

29. Make a go-to playlist to listen to while you cook dinner.

30. Invite a friend over to teach you how to make their favorite recipe.

31. Try new recipes to keep yourself out of cooking ruts.

33. Make yourself more cheese plates.

34. Give away the things you don't love and repurpose the things you do.

35. Don't underestimate the power of nostalgia—eat like a kid sometimes.

36. Leave some meals up to chance—dive into your crisper drawer or let someone else pick your ingredients and see what comes of it.

37. Cook dinner at home at least two nights during the work week.

38. Save your oldest, softest shirts for sleeping—not oil splatters. Invest in an apron.

39. Ask your parents and grandparents about their favorite recipes, record them, then actually make them.

40. When you see a vegetable at the farmers market or grocery store that you've never cooked with, bring it home with you for dinner.

41. Play around with beer and wine pairings more often—you may find that you like your favorite food even more.

42. Reward yourself with mid-week fresh flowers.

43. Don't let your dishes stack up in the sink so that your kitchen is never not a place you want to be.

44. Spend at least 10 minutes in the morning eating breakfast—and not doing anything else.

45. Serve an appetizer that outshines the main event.

46. Eat more meals with your hands. And take care of those hands, too!

47. Make your favorite condiments at home.

48. Never throw away edible food.

49. Turn your favorite ice pop into a cocktail.

50. Preserve your favorite parts of the season so you can enjoy them months down the line.

51. Throw a dinner party where there are more people than chairs (that's what blankets are for).

52. Make lists of things you like.

53. When you have the time, grind your favorite spices so they're as fresh as possible.

54. Bake yourself a seriously delicious chocolate cake.

55. Eat outside whenever you can.

56. Take walks after dinner.

57. Keep fresh fruit in a bowl in your kitchen.

We originally ran this article last January, and brought it back to get a head-start on resolutions this coming year.

What are some of the little things you'll be doing for yourself in 2017? Tell us in the comments below!

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23 Comments

Kerry December 27, 2016
This is great! I'm going to print a copy and keep it in my kitchen to look at often. I realized in printing it that #32 is missing!
 
H-Town V. December 27, 2016
Great list! I got a jump start on #12 on Christmas. For dinner, I made four Ottolenghi recipes. The main course was the Broccoli and Gorgonzola Pie from Plenty, along with Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Pecans and Maple, Butternut Squash with Ginger Tomatoes and Lime Yogurt, plus Dark Chocolate Mousse with Bailey's & Mascarpone for dessert. I made the mousse the night before, which was a good thing because the rest took 4 hours to prep and cook. It was time well spent, however. This was the most delicious holiday dinner I've ever made!
 
Scribbles January 24, 2016
Very nice! I actually do several a lot of these things; there are a few I'll be adding to my routine like the dinner parties - I love to have people over and just don't do it - that's going to change - thanks for the push!
 
Adrianne B. January 24, 2016
I love this list! Many wonderful ways to expand your cooking creativity
 
Charles A. January 24, 2016
Who wrote this - an alcoholic?
 
Anita104 January 24, 2016
5 out of 57 mention alcohol. That's a small percentage. Are you a teetotaler?
 
JL H. January 24, 2016
Ummm..boooooze :)
 
Sharon January 24, 2016
Huh? Have YOU been drinking?
 
JL H. January 24, 2016
Let's not be rude
 
jpriddy January 24, 2016
#20 every . . . single . . . day (Why bother to create anything with less than the best?)
 
MARIE S. January 22, 2016
Some of these suggestions I already do ....some I do not.... SO, Thank you for the inspiration to keep trying, experimenting, learning, and most of all, ENJOYING LIFE ! <br />
 
Mrs B. January 19, 2016
To answer your question:<br /><br />Use your cooking skills to help feed the homeless. If you're too busy with work, parties, etc., during the week, keep in mind that soup kitchens serve meals on the weekends, including breakfast.<br /><br />Help someone else learn to cook. Even if you're fairly new at it, offer to someone else who's also learning to answer questions, or to help find answers.<br /><br />For every purchase you make on the Food52 ecommerce site, donate an equal amount to a local food bank or organization trying to make the lives of foster children a little better.<br /><br />Deliver freshly-baked (by you) treats to a home-bound elderly person in your neighborhood. Take a few minutes to chat with them when you drop the goodies off.<br /><br />If you think these suggestions are off the topic of "do this for yourself," well, think again.
 
Colleen D. January 24, 2016
Excellent ideas!!!!
 
Sharon H. January 24, 2016
I like this - as sometimes "we" ;-) can get a wee bit hedonistic.
 
Juliebell January 24, 2016
Wonderful idea Sa!
 
Kaitlin B. January 19, 2016
Such a great list, Leslie!
 
Bourbon A. January 18, 2016
What a fabulous list! Simple, inspiring stuff - love it! Thanks Leslie!
 
Author Comment
Leslie S. January 18, 2016
Thank you! Enjoy your year!
 
Niknud January 18, 2016
My goal is to keep my sourdough starter alive all year long. Since I literally just finished up the (I kid you not) 21-day sourdough starter from Bien Cuit - 10 days of which were twice a day feedings - I'm bound and determined to keep this one going! My neurotic goldfish is easier to care for than this starter. Oh, and I should probably use it to make some kick-butt sourdough recipes too.
 
Author Comment
Leslie S. January 18, 2016
Wow I am amazed!! That's a great goal! I sadly tossed my sour dough starter recently because it also became harder to care for than my pets, but it's so rewarding if you can keep it alive!
 
Fairmount_market January 18, 2016
A great use for old sourdough starter is crumpets:<br />http://chocolateandzucchini.com/recipes/bread-brioche/sourdough-crumpets-with-natural-starter-recipe/
 
Anita104 January 18, 2016
I love, love, love your suggestions. Most New Year's resolutions are about changing ourselves, (losing weight, exercising) but yours are about being kind to ourselves, treating ourselves as well as we treat others, doing for ourselves the things we do for others, connecting with family and with our inner child. So simple, yet so profound. Thank you.
 
Author Comment
Leslie S. January 18, 2016
So glad you enjoyed this! And yes I completely believe that if you treat yourself well, the other things will all fall in line naturally! Have a great year!