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'New Year, New You' Means New Cooking Tips To Stick With Your Resolution


You wouldn't be the first one to make cooking more and eating right a New Year's resolution. David Tamarkin of Epicurious did that same thing one year and posted his recipes and pictures on social media. And he found...

DAVID TAMARKIN: It took off. You know, people started cooking along with me. I was like, oh, this is a good way to do a New Year, new you challenge on Epicurious that doesn't involve a diet.

CORNISH: Now he calls it the Cook90 challenge. The premise is simple - eat home-cooked meals, from breakfast to dessert, every single day. Tamarkin says he wants to encourage a new generation of home cooks that have fallen hard for takeout, meal kits and protein bars. He says the most daunting part of the process is actually not so much the cooking, but the shopping.

TAMARKIN: One of the biggest benefits of cooking daily or cooking a lot is that one meal can lead to the next. So, you know, we're going to start off on January 1 with a big batch of beans because of course that's the - that's what everyone should be making on New Year's Day. And a big batch of beans can feed you that night, and then it can feed you two nights later in a completely different way.

So you can make enchiladas with beans one night and then a bean soup the next night. And then you can even bring that leftover bean soup to lunch. And things just sort of cycle, and that's the best thing about cooking at home.

CORNISH: What's interesting about this is I think for a lot of immigrant families, a lot of people who grew up with moms who did a lot of cooking, this will feel very familiar, the idea of, like, shopping for the week and also cooking for the week - right? - often on a Sunday.

TAMARKIN: Absolutely. I hear that a lot from - especially from older people, that I've been doing Cook90 my entire life. You know, I cook every meal at home every day. This is nothing special. And they think it's sort of funny that I get applauded for doing this one month out of the year and now that there's a whole book about it.

I feel that, but that's not the way people are cooking right now - I mean, younger people especially. People are going to grocery stores to pick up, you know, prepared chicken salad or chicken cutlets. Sometimes they're even going to the grocery store to have a glass of wine and eat at the grocery store. Grocery stores are sort of becoming restaurants in some places.

CORNISH: Now, some recipes can be daunting to take on - right? - especially if you haven't cooked in a while, or you're kind of brushing up on your technique.

TAMARKIN: I think if you're a beginning cook, and you want to kind of ease into cooking, you can just think about pantry cooking. So pantry cooking to me means you have most of the stuff on hand all the time. And hopefully you have olive oil and vinegar and maybe a shallot or an onion or something. If you have all that stuff, you can come home, and you can cook really quickly, easily, without even thinking about it beforehand.

CORNISH: I tried a recipe this weekend, which - I think it was shrimp with garlicky herb sauce and white beans.

TAMARKIN: Yes. Audie, I - that's so - first of all, it's very sweet that you made the recipe. That makes me very happy if you liked it.

CORNISH: (Laughter).

TAMARKIN: Did you like it?

CORNISH: I did like it.


CORNISH: But I was testing the pantry theory, right?


CORNISH: So I was like, I know I have some frozen shrimp.

TAMARKIN: Right. Yes.

CORNISH: I went and got that from the grocery store. I knew I had some white beans. So I had almost everything - you know, diced tomatoes. I had almost everything.


CORNISH: And I cheated because I think it involves, like, a pesto, which - you have recipe to make the pesto. And I was, like, buying the pesto. Is that OK? Can you cheat?

TAMARKIN: That's not cheating. That's just cooking.

CORNISH: Now I know that with the start of the new year, there are a bunch of people who are going to say, this is the year that I'm going to cook more, or this is the year I'm going to pack a lunch. What trips people up?

TAMARKIN: OK. I think shopping trips people up. There are a lot of people who think, oh, I'm going to cook tonight. And then, after work, I'm going to go to the grocery store and get my groceries. And then I'm going to stand in the checkout line. And then I'll drive home, and I'll unpack my groceries. And I'll start cooking. And it's - now it's 9 o'clock, and this was not a good experience.

CORNISH: Right. Never mind if you have kids.

TAMARKIN: Yeah. Well, exactly. And so I really recommend that people do one big, weekly grocery shop a week. But in order to do that, of course, you have to have an idea of what you are going to cook. It's just about organization. I think cooking on the fly, it's great, but it takes more time than most people have on a Tuesday night.

CORNISH: How should people approach this particular kind of New Year's resolution?

TAMARKIN: What I want people to understand is that cooking is a healthy behavior. I'm not into the idea of a New Year's resolution where you are avoiding grains or avoiding carbs. I'm just more into the idea of avoiding restaurants a little bit, you know, avoiding takeout a little bit and just doing more cooking at home because it's just so good for you in every way.

CORNISH: David Tamarkin is digital director at Epicurious. He's also the author of "Cook90."

Thank you so much for speaking with us.

TAMARKIN: Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF WILD YAKS' "PARADISE") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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