Skip to main content
The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Ina Garten’s 2022 pandemic advice: Drink more cosmos. Do what you can.

(Jesse Dittmar for The Washington Post)

It’s January, which means that there’s no shortage of advice out there for living your best life in the new year. Mindful eating, Drynuary or mood diaries, anyone?

Lucky for those of us who find so many of the tips and schemes for healthier habits being hawked out there a bit daunting, a guru has risen to offer us the alternative prescription we’re looking for: Ina Garten, the cookbook author and food-TV queen known as the Barefoot Contessa, has a plan that just might get us through this mess of an ongoing pandemic.

Ina Garten poured herself a giant Cosmo this morning, and we don’t blame her one bit

Garten’s guidance came in a comment to a post on actress and lifestyle maven Reese Witherspoon’s Instagram page. Witherspoon on Monday shared a video of herself in which she extolled the virtues of the self-help book “Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones.”

“If you’re doing something that’s 1 percent better for you, you’re going to get 1 percent better,” she told her more than 27 million followers. “And if you’re doing something that’s 1 percent worse, you’re going to get 1 percent worse.”

Sounds logical, right? Witherspoon captioned the video by listing a few habits she said she was working on, including starting each day with a glass of water, reading uninterrupted every day for at least 30 minutes, and getting to bed by 10 p.m.

Which is all very aspirational! And her skin was so smooth and glowy in the clip, her teeth so straight and white! How could we not want to emulate the “Legally Blonde” star turned power-producer? Luckily, Ina showed up in the comments to offer another way to be fabulous.

“That sounds great but I’m probably not doing any of those things! LOL!!” Garten wrote. “My formula is easier to follow.”

At this point, Ina had our collective attention. I know from personal experience that she would never steer us wrong. Where Ina goes, I will follow, whether it’s denim shirts as daily uniform, roast chicken as aphrodisiac, or the need for “good” olive oil. (Have you made her brownie pudding? That would be my Exhibit A in the court case in which I, a person without a law degree, prove that the woman knows what she is doing.)

What is it about Ina Garten?

Ina continued with her rules, which I plan to nail to a door somewhere or perhaps have etched in marble, so long as my local stonecutter has not been hit by those supply-chain glitches:

“1. Drink more large cosmos 2. Stay up late watching addictive streaming series, 3. Stay in bed in the morning playing Sudoku instead of reading a good book. 4. Spend more time (safely) with people you love.”

And her postscript to what we should now refer to as the Four Commandments was the one that probably resonated with most readers, even those whose preferred drink is a Manhattan or whose game of choice is Wordle. “In a pandemic,” Garten wrote. “I do what I can! [heart emoji]”

Move over Reese — “do what you can” sounds like just about the most sensible advice out there in a landscape littered with juice shots “packed with ashwagandha,” and tiny vacuums that promise to suck the gunk out of our pores.

And with that, an apparently offhand comment on a fellow celebrity’s Instagram, Ina firmly established herself as the pandemic guide we need (with apologies to Anthony Fauci). After all, she was there in the early, dark days of 2020′s lockdowns with a delightfully unhinged video in which she prepared a bucket-size cosmo and dispensed essential survival tips. (The gist of that one was “stay safe, have a good time, and don’t forget the cocktails.”)

And so as we contemplate a winter of new shutdowns, scrambling for coronavirus tests, and yet more Zooms, when it comes to doses of Ina’s pandemic wisdom, I’m going to aspire to emulate her again. I might not have vodka on hand at a given moment, or I might be between TV-show binges, but I will be doing what I can.

More from Voraciously:

Let’s talk about our favorite cookbooks of 2021 and their recipes

Paris Hilton’s new Netflix show takes all the joy out of cooking

TikTok’s new food-delivery brand plans to bring feta pasta and smash burgers to your door