Valentine's Day

The Best Tips for Cooking Together Without Stirring Up Trouble, According to our Readers

published Feb 6, 2018
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Although cooking dinner with your significant other sounds like the domestic dream, it can sometimes turn into a battleground when you’re balancing different cooking techniques, a too-small prep space, and hungry guests or kids waiting in the background. That’s why we reached out to you, our readers, to get your tips for cooking together without conflict. While dozens of you warned against it, a lot of you had good advice to share during a recent reader poll on Facebook.

Here’s what you told us. (Note: Some comments have been lightly edited.)

1. Plan the meal together.

“Grocery shop together first so you’re both invested in the meal.” Stephanie Werner

2. Don’t forget the most important ingredients.

“Music & wine!” Carol Jacob

“Wine, lots of wine!” Kit Curnow

3. Keep an open mind and don’t tell your spouse what to do.

“Don’t criticize. Everyone has their own way of doing things.” Karen Martone Hoover

“Never criticize. Just go with the flow.” Sesime Lotsue Amedi

“Let him learn from his mistakes. Don’t keep telling him how to do something, even if you think you know how to do it right.” Lynda Bell

“Let them do things at their own speed. My husband is much slower at certain tasks, such as prepping vegetables, so I make a point to slow down so we can enjoy it together.” Dawn Howard

“Don’t nitpick if they don’t do something in the kitchen the way that you’d do it. Keep it light!” Bronwyn Cawker

“I make sure I don’t micromanage him, but try to be helpful when he asks what something means in the recipe (I’m the more experienced cook). Let him make mistakes sometimes, especially when he’s cooking a meal by himself, so he learns by doing (rather than by my corrections). Try to be appreciative of help or kindly decline it and always be grateful of meals he makes for me, even if they aren’t “perfect.” Raphaelle Beard

4. Use it as a time to connect.

“Enjoy each other’s company and take that time to learn a little more about your partner. ” Joy Hahn

“Put your phones down!” Darren Spivey

5. Designate duties.

“Divide up duties into sous chef and chef. While one is cooking, the other can go behind and start clean up.” Larry Heitzman

“Assign one primary cook and the other to with assist chopping, etc.” Karen Foster-Yonkers

“One can prep, the other can cook. We do it all the time. I don’t mind being his sous chef!” Tatia Roberts

“We have a really tiny kitchen, and we find it’s best not to be in the kitchen at the same time. One of us might deal with cutting things up and prepping, then the other steps in to combine ingredients and cook. Then we’re also able to watch our one year old daughter and spend a little one-on-one time with her.” Cassandra Russell

“Work around each other’s strengths and preferences. He hates chopping garlic, so I’ll do that part. He really likes trimming meat, I’m a fan of stirring, etc.” Lydia Marie

6. Communicate — especially in a small space!

“We have a *really* small kitchen so we’re practically on top of each, but those constant little bits of communication — Behind! “Coming around! HOT/SHARP! — have helped us to not accidentally stab and burn each other or have major spills etc.” Greta Harmon

7. Remember that dishes are part of cooking

“He cooks, I clean. I cook, he cleans.” Ingrid Flores

“If you’re at a stage where it’s a one-man job, catch up on some dishes or sit off to the side with a drink and chat.” Lydia Marie

8. Experiment.

“Have fun and try new recipes. My hubby and I love doing this and our kids love it too!” Tina Waters

9. Leave room for romance.

“Cook something that needs to simmer for a few hours. In the meantime, enjoy yourselves…” Maxi Müller

“Touch fingertips, hold hands, kiss often, and talk to each other.” Phil Ellis

“Best tip: Grab their hiney as often as possible when crossing paths… no matter what you are cooking… will make it awesome!” Alice Lucius

10. And remember that whole point of cooking together is to be together.

“Have fun, flirt with each other and don’t take it too seriously. One of you pours the drinks and the finds music you can both listen to while you cook. Don’t dance with knives in your hand, but do dance on the first slow song. Hug them from behind when they do the dishes. Say thank you often. Smile and tell them about your day, open your heart enough to genuinely hear your partner when they tell you about theirs. Practice patience and love the process. Enjoy your food together even if it’s not a 5-star meal or it doesn’t go perfectly as planned.” Rosella Walker

Do you have anything else to add? Let us know in the comments below!