Date night can be a nerve-wracking event to begin with. Add in the pressure of having to prepare a meal and it can seem totally overwhelming and completely undoable.
Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be this way. With a couple of easy tricks, cooking can become one of the things you don’t have to worry about. The more stress-free the environment, the more you will be able to relax and be yourself (and maybe if you’re lucky your date will be the one cooking next time).
1. Familiarize yourself with the recipe.
One of the best things to do when you’re preparing to cook at anytime is to be familiar with your recipe before you start. On Tuesday or Wednesday, decide what you want to make. Over the next couple of days, read over the recipe a couple of times and make sure you are familiar with the terms used and know the order of the steps you will have to take.
Becoming friendly with your recipe will help to relieve any anxiety you might be feeling about the meal, and it will make you more prepared to handle any mistakes that might happen come date night. Here are some cookbooks to check out if you need inspo.
2. Do all the preparation in advance.
Chopping, dicing and slicing can all be tedious tasks that could potentially take away time from your date. While this could be good in some situations, usually the goal of date night is to spend time with the other person.
To maximize this time, prepare as much of the dish as you can in advance. This includes measuring out dry ingredients, chopping up any vegetables, and setting the table. In some cases, you may even be able to pre-cook parts of the recipe. This prep work can really help minimize the time you’ll need to spend in the kitchen.
3. Choose a recipe that doesn’t require much supervision.
While risotto can be absolutely delicious, it requires constant stirring and a very high level of attention. When picking a recipe for date night, navigate towards ones that are relatively hands-off.
Things that bake in the oven (like this chicken parmesan) or recipes that can be partially or completely cooked in advance will leave you more time to focus on your date, rather than worrying about something burning on the stove.
4. Stay away from foods that might give you bad breath.
If the date is going well, it might include some intimate conversation and maybe even a goodnight kiss. Nothing ruins the moment faster than cuddling up to someone and having them breathe their dinner in your face. Set you (and your date) up for success by avoiding recipes that call for ingredients like onions or garlic.
While these ingredients add great flavor, leaving them out doesn’t have to mean bland food. If you are struggling with the idea of avoiding these flavors, pick a dessert that includes peppermint, such as one of these recipes. This will allow you to have a flavorful dinner, and maybe even a little more than just dessert.
5. Be familiar with your date’s allergies.
There really isn’t a sexy way to ask your date if they have any allergies. What’s even less sexy, however, is having to stick an EpiPen in your date’s thigh on the first date.
Although not all allergies might escalate to the level of anaphylaxis, it is important to know if there is anything that your date can’t eat. Having them arrive to find out you’ve cooked chicken in peanut sauce will make you both feel awkward, and ultimately hungry.
6. Pick something universal.
While the ancient Australian delicacy you tasted while you were studying abroad is a great conversation starter (and your new absolute favorite thing to eat), it might be more of an acquired taste. Try to stick to more traditional recipes that appeal to a larger portion of the population, like spaghetti and these meatballs, until you’re more familiar with your date’s eating habits and can better assess whether they would be up for your more exotic side.
7. Pick a dish that is adjustable to two servings.
Tight living quarters and even tighter budgets can make cooking for date night difficult. By choosing a recipe that can easily be adapted for a two-person serving size, you’re eliminating the need to store leftovers in your tiny fridge that you already share with 6 people. You’re also reducing your shopping budget, which will allow you to spend more in other areas to impress your date.
8. Always have an apron handy.
While you lean over to put the finishing touches on your perfectly crafted meal, things can quickly go downhill as it splatters all over your new date night top. Avoid any possible spaghetti sauce stains by making sure you ALWAYS have an apron on when you’re in the kitchen. While they can look “mom-like” at times, they can also be fun and flirty—and they prevent you from having to aggressively Tide stick your shirt in the bathroom while the food gets cold.
Using these tips will help make cooking for your date the easiest part of the evening, allowing you to fully enjoy your date, your time together, and a fantastic meal.