It’s that time of year when we all want to start 2023 off right by upgrading our habits. So here are my 5 New Year’s Food Resolutions inspired by good habits I’ve observed among savvy French home cooks.
First of all, there seems to be a new food service or home delivery app coming out every month in France. But the objective is always the same: to convince you that cooking is difficult, complicated, and time-consuming. Best leave all that work to the professionals.
I didn’t think much about it until I did a few quick calculations: financially and quality-wise, even decent take-out food is a bad deal. (Track your monthly take-out bill closely, and you’ll see what I mean).
It dawned on me that for roughly the same amount of money – and a lot more organization and forethought- I could make much better, healthier meals at home without being a gourmet cook, even in France.
I finally realized that even Parisian gourmet home delivery (whipped up by French cooking school grads, no less) tastes “blah” once it’s been strapped to the back of a motorcycle and whisked city through traffic.
I can’t quote any science on this; it’s just my observation: cooked food traveling on the back of a French motorscooter is somehow transformed in taste and texture – and not in a good way.
So here are my 5 French-inspired Healthy Food Resolutions for 2023:
1. Plan meals to avoid last-minute take out
This isn’t uniquely French-inspired, but it’s something savvy French cooks do that I need to work on: Though I don’t have a long commute to an office job, I can still be tempted to hit the “take-out button” (phone) if I’m too tired to cook at the end of a long day.
My monthly take-out bill plunged last year when I tried a Saturday planning session for the upcoming week’s meals. I’m not yet at the meal-prep-on-Sunday stage, but it’s a start.
As a result, there was less anxiety around what to eat, less food waste, and less need to buy in bulk.
Tip: I’ve bought a beautiful spiral-bound planner for 2023 that sits near my kitchen table. This makes planning a pleasure, not a chore.
Legacy Five Spiral Bound Meal Planner Notebook with Menu Planner, Grocery List & Budget Planner on Amazon.com
It’s even become my Central Household Command Book: I put grocery lists, repair lists, and cleaning schedules there. My life just got a lot easier, so I think this resolution will stick.
2. Make the dinner table attractive and inviting, not just functional
I’ve observed in France for sure that when it’s time to eat, an attractive table is not a frivolous thing. Gathering around the dinner table at the end of a long day may be the only quality time you get with your spouse or children during the week.
So making the table look pretty means dinner is a pleasant, inviting experience for all. That involves clearing away all non-dinner-related “stuff”: sunglasses, the day’s mail, the kids’ homework, or a spouse’s car keys and laptop.
I’m resolved to make my meals pretty and straightforward, so I will do the following two things:
-choose French themed white dishes that will go well with any colorful glassware or other accent pieces I add to the table:
Mikasa French Countryside White Dinnerware Set on Amazon.com
-add a lovely table centerpiece: I can pull something decorative off my shelves or use whatever flowers or small plants I may have.
These little touches let everyone know, “Le Dîner est Servi!”
3. Follow a tried and true meal structure: Starter – Main Course – Dessert
The French live by the Starter – Main Course – Dessert meal structure.
I’ve tried it, and if you know the structure, it’s easy to run the plan: When I get to dessert, I know the meal’s over. No more wandering around the kitchen looking for a second helping of chicken after dessert.
Does this mean I’ll have French pastries for dessert every day in 2023? -No. Simple, fresh fruit – Yes!
4. Begin a meal with a raw vegetable Starter
Whenever I’ve tried to skip this step (ignoring resolution #3) and devour one plate of food quickly, I end up being unsatisfied – even hungry. I then return constantly to the fridge, looking for something to eat well after the meal. So this resolution is written in stone for me.
Beginning your meal with a raw vegetable Starter gives you fiber -which is excellent for your health- but it also has benefits for curbing your appetite, according to science.
To make it easy: I love a mix of greens with herbs, a grated carrot salad, or thinly sliced raw fennel with a fresh lemon juice vinaigrette.
5. Make salad dressings from scratch, now and … forever!
Since I started buying top-quality oils (like olive or walnut oils) and vinegars (like red wine or raspberry), I’ve been making my salad dressing every day.
Here are some high-quality products for salad dressing you can find easily on Amazon.com:
Nicolas Alziari “Cuvee Pauline” Organic Olive Oil from Nice, France on Amazon.com
La Tourangelle Roasted Walnut Oil on Amazon.com
Edmond Fallot French Red Wine Vinegar on Amazon.com
Edmond Fallot French Raspberry Vinegar (with organic raspberries from Provence) on Amazon.com
I haven’t gone back to buying bottled dressings because they’re disappointing in flavor and often full of preservatives.
I know that with high-quality pantry ingredients, like a selection of oils and vinegars, I can’t go wrong.
This month I’ve added to my roster a new creamy dressing made with cashew butter, herbs, and apple cider vinegar.
I’ll keep building out my salad dressing “repertoire” in 2022 to keep my greens healthy and delicious.
Each of my five healthy, French-inspired food resolutions for this year relates to and supports each other:
Planning my meals in advance will keep the temptation to order take-out at bay.
And setting an attractive table for everyday meals, following a traditional French meal structure, and using excellent quality pantry ingredients will make dinners at home more “restaurant quality. ”
If I can stick to these resolutions in 2023, then home cooking will be the new dining out!
And now you: What resolutions have you made around food for 2023?
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Thank you Nancy
I have enjoyed your very interesting post and on the same page regarding take out food some thing I rarely do with one exception. a local family run Vietnamese restaurant, good clean tasty inexpensive food.
I love raw vegetables but do not serve them but will make that a good habit. I also never buy ready made dressings and excited as I found walnut oil !!!
Thank you again
You’re welcome Pamela! I’m happy you found walnut oil. It will add a new dimension to your recipes. Try it in salad dressings!
Wonderful and helpful email Nancy. I know you have told me before about the fresh vegetable starter and I am going to give it a go. I also love the idea of making mealtimes special.
Glad you found this helpful. Yes, I’ve noticed over time that the fresh vegetable starter is a life-saver for me: whenever I’ve tried to skip it I eat too fast (and too much!) and end up regretting it.