I'm not the kind of person who buys into new year's resolutions. They just aren't realistic.

Let's face it; I may or may not lose 10 pounds in 2023. I might complete a couch to 5km running programme or I might get lazy by February and give up.

However, there are some things I want to continuously improve upon as a chef, mom and homeowner - and most of these goals are around food and sustainability.

I have been working in food for well over a decade, but I still feel like I have a long way to go in some regards. Here are a few of the things I'd like to work on for the new year.

Connect with primary producers

I already enjoy doing this, but there is always room for improvement and there are so many farmers and food producers in Ireland whom I haven't yet met.

Making connections with primary producers is a good way to positively influence your spending habits.

If you understand the care and attention to detail which goes into a food product or ingredient, you are more likely to remember that during your weekly shop.

A poly tunnel is an investment Janine hopes to make this year / Janine Kennedy

I still fail, sometimes, when it comes to supporting local - it's just so convenient to do your weekly shop in a large supermarket all in one go - but there are many much-loved pantry and fridge staples in my home I simply won't replace (such as Inch House puddings, Aran sourdough bread and St Tola cheese, to name a few).

I plan to visit more farmers markets this year to connect with new and new-to-me producers - and hopefully add to that list of irreplaceable food products.

Better manage my food waste

I do my best - as I'm sure most people do - to manage food waste. I have a decent idea of what we go through in a week and can use odds and ends of fruits and veggies before they go off, but there are still things which end up in the bin (not the compost bin, the bin bin!).

These are usually things I buy on impulse with a plan to try in a new recipe. The problem is, I don't end up having the time to try the new recipe and the food expires before I can use or freeze it.

Compostable items are mostly scraps from raw fruits and vegetables - you can't compost meat, dairy or most cooked foods - so those are the things I end up wasting most often.

Eating more locally produced foods is also a big goal for Janine in 2023. / Janine Kennedy

I am really interested in investing in an at-home biodigester, which can safely compost all food waste (cooked or uncooked) and often doesn't need to be emptied for two to three years.

Some options on the market are mainly just for disposing of your food waste, while others can create energy in the form of liquid fertiliser for your garden and gas you can use in your kitchen. It's basically a small anaerobic digester for domestic use.

Grow more of my own

After many years of unsuccessfully trying to grow vegetables, I finally succeeded last year in growing a good amount of courgette, beetroot, chard, asparagus (though that won't be harvestable for several years) and leeks.

After her first successful year of growing vegetables, Janine tried to save some seeds - we'll see if they grow or not!

Aside from an at-home digester, I hope to invest in a polytunnel, which will enable me to plant more seedlings (I usually just start them on my windowsills in the house).

I am definitely in a privileged position here, as, living on a farm, I have a large amount of space available in which to grow food and our soil is good quality.

This could be why I am so keen to get better at vegetable gardening. I have attempted to save some seeds from last year's harvest, so we will see if any of these work out.

Be more creative

When you grow your own vegetables, you might feel stuck eating the same thing every day as certain veggies hit their peak.

Janine made pickled beetroot last year, but hopes to ferment, pickle and preserve even more homegrown produce this year. / Janine Kennedy

I am going to get better at preserving vegetables in 2023. I usually make quick pickles which don't require proper canning technique, but I recently invested in a really basic (and affordable) canning system which will help me process larger amounts of veggies in a food-safe way.

Stand by my butcher

Over the 2022 Christmas holidays, the best meal I had was a rib roast from my local butcher, who also rears his own cattle.

This rib roast from Janine's local butcher was her highlight meal of Christmas 2022. / Janine Kennedy

I had made a rib roast earlier on in the year, but bought the roast online for convenience reasons. The latter rib roast was smaller, overcooked easily in my hot oven and left me feeling underwhelmed.

In fact, it almost made me cancel the rib roast I had ordered from my butcher. I'm so glad I didn't. It was as pricey as our Christmas turkey, but for a once-a-year meal, shared with family, it was absolute perfection.

Again, knowing the love and attention my butcher gives to his own animals made all the difference to the flavour and tenderness of the meat.

I'd like to invest in more meat boxes (lamb, pork, chicken) from local farmers and avoid buying pre-portioned meat in the supermarket.

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