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When it comes to New Year's Eve celebrations, I can take them or leave 'em. I'm just as happy to go out and celebrate with a group of friends as I am to spend the evening solo on the couch in my matching pajama set with a good movie and a mini bottle of Champagne (falling asleep before the ball drops, of course). I much prefer New Year's Day, when the resolutions I made the night before are fresh and full of promise.
But while the upcoming year may be a blank slate, I can't say the same for my kitchen—all that holiday cooking, cocktail mixing, and party hosting takes its toll on that space after two straight months. That's why every January I take a weekend to reset my kitchen. This not only helps me refresh my cooking mindset (and get me excited to try new dishes), but it also helps me settle into a routine for the new year. From cleaning out the fridge to sharpening your knives, here are five things you can do to hit the reset button on your own kitchen space.
1. Do a Fridge & Pantry Clean-Out
No matter how hard I try, my refrigerator and pantry always seem to be a mess after the holidays. Spices thrown into the cabinets with no sense of order, half-eaten bags of snacks, an old piece of ginger or citrus nearing complete dehydration in the back of the fridge—these are my cues that it's time to do a big clean-out. I'll note what non-perishables I have stocked (so I don't double up on my next grocery run) and toss anything that's expired, all while organizing or (at the very least) tidying things up as I put items back on the shelves.
2. Take the Stress Off Dinner With a Meal Kit
The holidays can be stressful for so many reasons (including a pandemic that seems like it just won't end), but the start of a new year can be a moment to take a breath and reset your routine. One way to lighten your load in the kitchen is with a meal kit service. My pick is Blue Apron for its variety of recipe options, including plenty of satisfying and creative vegetarian dishes, and overall ease: Simply pick out your menu and have all the pre-portioned ingredients delivered fresh to your doorstep. Trying a meal kit is always a fun and low-effort way to incorporate new flavors into your cooking—like Basque-style lamb or trout glazed in yuzu kosho and orange marmalade—without having to search out specialty shops or grocers. Even better, since they only give you the exact amount of food you need, you won't have to worry about letting anything go to waste or linger in the fridge, and new customers get $110 off their first five boxes plus free shipping on the first box.
3. Give Your Appliances a Deep Clean
A season's worth of family feasts and weeknight meals means your appliances, from the oven to the dishwasher, have probably endured their fare share of spills, splatters, and smudges. Instead of waiting till spring to deep-clean your appliances, give 'em a thorough scrub at the beginning of the year so they're ready to take on any recipe you're excited to try. If you're feeling overwhelmed by the amount of cleaning, break it up over a couple of days or set aside a weekend to tackle the whole project.
4. Freshen Up the Space With Some Creative Rearranging
You don't necessarily need to buy anything to make your space feel new—the trick is to move a few things around. You can do this with furniture, art work, and the like, but in the kitchen, I like to switch up where my small appliances live on the counter, shuffle around my cookbooks, and rotate the coffee mugs and glassware I keep on display. If you do want to add something to the space, you might consider a new plant or fresh-cut flowers (I like to use old jars over vases) near the windowsill. This, in combination with an appliance deep-clean and a quick swipe of some surface cleaner on the countertops and cabinets, will make the whole kitchen feel refreshed.
5. Sharpen Up Your Knives
It may seem like a small thing, but having a set of razor-sharp knives instantly transforms the process of cooking into something thrilling—at least, if you're me—and makes my kitchen feel in order. Even the fanciest knives will dull eventually, and the start of the year is a great time to get 'em sharpened if it's been a few months (or longer) since their last trip to the whetstone.
Our friends at Blue Apron are dedicated to making dinner easier and more delicious than ever with their lineup of always-changing meal kit menus. Their chef-designed recipes use top-notch, responsibly sourced ingredients you can feel good about, like GMO-free chicken, pasture-raised beef, and sustainably caught (or farmed) seafood. Whether you want to switch up your cooking routine or take the stress off dinner, let Blue Apron do the hard work—from shopping to meal planning—and leave the fun part (cooking and eating!) to you.
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