It’s a traditional time of year to assess and reassess habits. With everyone insisting on making resolutions, I guess I’ll join the crowd and make a few in my kitchen.

One way I’m resolving to help the ecological situation across the planet is to use less plastic. I’m shifting away from plastic containers into glass ones. They are expensive to buy, but I’ve been hitting thrift stores and can find an amazing treasure here and there. I’m also using my glass canning jars for storage. I have metal reusable lids, and they hold up beautifully.

I purchased organic cotton bags in which to put my produce. Instead of the plastic bags from the grocery, I can actually take these with me to put greens, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and other vegetables into. It sometimes makes a check-out person look at me a little doubtfully, but when I explain what they are and why I’m using them, I usually get a happy thumbs-up.

In my kitchen, I’m resolving to clean the kitchen every night before bed. A clean kitchen makes it enticing to cook, where having to spend half an hour cleaning before you cook makes cooking more of a chore. I just put myself in zen mode, run a sink full of soapy warm water and ease myself into bedtime with warm hands and a good feeling.

I resolve to simplify my cooking. I’m working on planning menus ahead of time instead of doing it while pushing a shopping cart. It lets me buy less, and if I keep the meals as simple as possible, any of my family can fix the meal. I’m trying for dishes of five ingredients or less. I can then pull out the stops on weekends when I do my recreational cooking.

I will cull my cookbooks. I have so many, and although I will certainly keep the special ones like the “Victory Garden” cookbook, a lot of them that looked like the answer to great cooking at the time ended up being a disappointment or just too complicated to use. So they will be donated!

On that same note, I will cull my clipping file. I have a pretty good stash, so many that it’s not really feasible to try them all. So when it’s quiet and dark in the evening, I’ll go through them and select a few to try, maybe one or two a week. The ones that are good, I’ll add to my cookbook immediately. The rest I’ll toss. I won’t keep up my grandmother’s tradition of noting “not good” on it and sticking it back in the file.

And finally, I’m going to try not cave in to buying new stuff for the kitchen. I absolutely love gadgets, but enough is enough. Although I’m thinking that maybe I need one of the cool instant pots …

Kate Jerome, a Kenosha writer and teacher, holds a master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin and is the former Urban Farm director at Gateway Technical College. She is the owner of the consulting business Kate Jerome’s Garden to Kitchen. Her website is www.kjerome.com.

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