I know, I know. You’d really love to lose 25 lbs this year so you’re cutting out sugar and signed up for a half marathon this spring. I admire your ambition, and I do hope it works out for you.
Lofty goals make you feel good, like you’re committing to something that will have a real and lasting impact on your life. And the New Year is as good a time as any to set your eyes on greatness.
But as we’re looking for big, meaningful new goals to kickstart the New Year, it’s easy to forget that sometimes it’s the little, unsexy habits that help you make the most progress.
This week, hundreds of new people have signed up for my program Foodist Kitchen that teaches you how to cook without recipes in 30 days. They’ve made the commitment to cook at home more often this year, with the larger goal of eating more healthy, unprocessed foods in general.
In my experience, being able to cook simple, delicious meals at home is the single most important habit for getting healthy and losing weight, so I whole-heartedly support this goal.
And it’s no accident that one of the first activities of the program is identifying your personal barriers to cooking regularly.
Often the reason we don’t feel like doing something we’ve already committed to is that there is some unconscious block that’s stopping us from taking the next step.
For Foodist Kitchen students, one of the most common revelations that arise from this exercise is that dirty dishes and a messy kitchen are often the reason we don’t want to cook.
Think about that. It isn’t the chopping or the sautéing or the deciding what to make. It’s that there are no clean pans or counter space to work with.
A dirty kitchen turns cooking from one job into two jobs (or three if you don’t want to repeat the cycle). If the dishes had been washed the night before or in the morning, you would eat a healthy meal instead of ordering takeout.
The take away? Finding a way to get the dishes done needs to become a top priority.
Is it sexy? Nope. Is it potentially life-changing because you may finally start cooking regularly? Yep.
Most important: it isn’t that hard.
In Foodist Kitchen we encourage our students to use the tiny bits of down time during the cooking process (e.g. while the veggies are roasting or the soup is simmering) to do small cleaning tasks like rinsing off knives and cutting boards, and putting away extra vegetables or loading the dishwasher. This makes it so the remaining dishes after dinner are minimal and can be easily finished after eating.
But people have found many different creative solutions to the dishes problem. One student fills her sink with soapy water and empties the dish rack as a first step before cooking, so cleaning as she goes is easy. Another finishes the dishes while her coffee is brewing in the morning. Some make it more interesting by listening to podcasts, Netflix or audiobooks.
I’m not trying to trick you into thinking it’s fun to do the dishes, just that it doesn’t have to be so bad. I’m sure you already know that it feels way better to go to bed with a clean kitchen than with a disaster waiting for you in the morning, so why not invest a few minutes to make tomorrow’s dinner easier?
As one student suggests:
Try timing yourself when you load or unload the dishwasher; you’ll be surprised at how quick a job it really is (especially if you are on top of things). What I’ve done is changed my mindset from “I’m too tired and it’s too much work and I don’t want to do it” to “Gee, I can spend all of 7 minutes on this and wake up to a clean kitchen tomorrow.”
Making a habit of getting the kitchen clean before it’s time to cook dinner is the difference between making cooking feel daunting or making it feel doable. A simple task with a huge ROI.
Going to bed with a clean kitchen is our New Year’s resolution in the Rose household. Will you join us?