Despite what some people may say, cooking is hard. It’s difficult to learn, involves lots of trial and error, takes time, and makes a mess. I want to let you in on my secret weapon in the kitchen: my husband.
Alex is quite literally the reason I learned to cook. If he hadn’t been excited about it too, I wouldn’t have pushed through learning how to use a knife and what to do when dinner turns out to be burnt pizza. He’s been my shoulder to cry on, sounding board for new ideas, and overall partner in crime.
It might not be feasible for everyone, but having a buddy in the kitchen is a lifesaver! If you want to learn to cook or to eat healthy, a friend or a spouse can help keep you going, encourage you when the going gets rough, and inspire you to try new things.
A few reasons cooking with a partner or friend is better than solo:
- You’ll enjoy quality time together. One thing we love about cooking: it’s quality time spent together and puts food on the table (hello, multitasking!). Some of our favorite memories are being in the kitchen with people we love.
- You’ll bond over new experiences. There’s something about learning a new skill with someone that tightens the bond. You’ll have plenty of “remember when” fodder, and you’ll grow together the more you learn.
- You’ll learn how to communicate better and build a team. With an activity that requires timely coordination to achieve a common goal, communication is key! You’ll find any communication issues start to ferret themselves out as you cook together more.
- It’ll go twice as fast (well, faster). With two in the kitchen, prep time flies by. You also can designate someone as cleanup crew, who follows right behind the mess maker (we do this all the time).
- It’s more fun. I love cooking alone, but turn on some music, give me a glass of wine, and put my husband by my side — that’s what I call cooking!
Now, let’s imagine you’ve convinced your spouse, family member, or friend to cook with you (using the above list of course!). Cooking together takes some honing to get it right. Here are a few of our tips for a harmonious kitchen:
- Work your strengths. This is our number one tip for working together in the kitchen. Each person contributes a different skill set to the mix, so instead trying to do everything together, pick tasks you’re naturally suited for. For example, Alex is better and faster at chopping vegetables than I am, and I’m better at organizing and running an entire recipe, so we choose these jobs when we’re in the kitchen together.
- Plan ahead. If you want to be successful in the kitchen, you’ve got to plan: plan out the recipe in advance so you have everything on hand. There’s nothing worse than haphazardly choosing a recipe while you’re hungry, shopping for it, forgetting ingredients, and then trying to rush through the cooking process.
- Expect, and plan for, occasional failure. If you cook together often, you’re bound to have failures. (Trust us!) You might misinterpret a recipe, have a burner up too high, or forget to check the veggies roasting in the oven. Whatever the case, plan for how you’ll react. Though you’ve invested time, energy and money into this recipe, a slip up might cause you to slide it into the garbage instead of your mouth. Dry those tears (I’ve been there many a time!), fry up a grilled cheese sandwich, and reflect together on that thing you learned that you’ll never forget to do again.
- Designate a leader. Alex and I have found it can be difficult to have two leaders in the kitchen. We’ve started designating one person the recipe “lead” — then we switch the next time we’re in the kitchen. It makes for more seamless cooking when we understand who’s “boss” for the hour and who is the sous chef.
- Laugh. No matter what, cooking is an activity for the two of you to enjoy together. If stress starts to creep in, it’s no longer fun. A hefty dose of laughter, whether at yourselves or with each other, helps to focus on what’s important: time together with someone you love.
About the Authors
Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.
Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.