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Cooking as a Couple

Cooking as a Couple | A Couple Cooks

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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).
  5. 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

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30 Comments

  • Reply
    Heidi @foodiecrush
    January 14, 2015 at 2:11 am

    My husband and I spend most of our time together in the kitchen, and I always say, he’s my secret weapon on the blog. I think another tip melds two of yours for a harmonious kitchen: be prepared, and accepting , of one another’s kitchen failures. Grilled watermelon pasta doesn’t always work.

    • Reply
      Sonja
      January 15, 2015 at 8:56 pm

      LOVE the idea of grilled watermelon pasta fail! I would have been in line to taste a bit, just to see :) And, hooray for husband secret weapons!

  • Reply
    Kathryn
    January 14, 2015 at 6:10 am

    I tend to be the total opposite + make my boyfriend stay well away from the kitchen when I’m cooking but I’m thinking that I should really re-evaluate that approach because there’s so much to be gained from cooking together. You guys, as ever, are such an inspiration.

    • Reply
      Sonja
      January 15, 2015 at 8:56 pm

      Aww, thank you Kathryn! It takes a bit of working out the partnership, but we’ve found it so beneficial to our marriage! Let us know if you give it a go.

  • Reply
    Ksenia @ At the Immigrant's Table
    January 14, 2015 at 7:10 am

    This is lovely, but unfortunately, as a commenter has mentioned, I find that cooking with another person in the kitchen isn’t for everyone. I tend to be a perfectionist, especially when it comes to something I’m doing for the blog, and so it’s hard to have someone there questioning things, or just wanting to do something their own way (“Why are you adding kale to this? I don’t like kale!”/ “Let’s not blend that soup, I want vegetable chunks”). Sigh.

    • Reply
      Sonja
      January 15, 2015 at 8:58 pm

      Haha, I do agree it takes a bit of letting go to have two in the kitchen! We still have days where we disagree on whether we should add kale or chunky soup. But it’s been great for each of us to say ” I disagree, but try it!” You never know what might come of it; for example, Alex had the idea for tomato artichoke lentil stew that I was originally against, but it ended up becoming one of my favorite meals from our blog!

  • Reply
    Ellie
    January 14, 2015 at 9:43 am

    these are such great tips! i need to start utilizing my husband more in the kitchen :)

  • Reply
    Jessie Snyder | Faring Well
    January 14, 2015 at 9:54 am

    This is so great, totally inspired to squeeze my husband into our tiny kitchen together with me to prep our next meal. You guys are too cute, and wicked inspiring <3

    • Reply
      Sonja
      January 15, 2015 at 8:59 pm

      Oh, thank you Jessie! That is so kind, and I’m excited to hear you are inspired to try cooking with your husband – let us know how it goes!

  • Reply
    Meg @ BeardandBonnet
    January 14, 2015 at 10:37 am

    My husband and I are in the kitchen together every day! He is almost always on cocktail and clean up duty while I cook. He makes a mean margarita. Love this post!

    • Reply
      Sonja
      January 15, 2015 at 9:00 pm

      That is perfect! I love the thought of cocktail duty – that may have to be a new position in our kitchen!

  • Reply
    Lety
    January 14, 2015 at 11:35 am

    This is a great advise! Unfortunatley my husband works so hard, he comes so tired and so late that when he arrives, he is ready to have dinner. But, since my son is off season (he is a profesional cyclist) we’ve been cooking together. It is very fun and he has so many ideas. We plan, shop and cook together. Sadly he is leaving next week… But it is something that we share and enjoy even in the distance he’ll come up with some great iceas for me to cook.

    • Reply
      Sonja
      January 15, 2015 at 9:01 pm

      Lety, what a fun way to spend time with your son by cooking together! I love that! Hoping one day we’ll be so lucky with our future children (though they’ll probably not be into it at all since that’s how it goes, right?).

  • Reply
    Sierra
    January 14, 2015 at 2:05 pm

    I 100% agree. I love cooking with my husband and there are few things we find more rewarding than cooking together. Because he also enjoy’s cooking, we often take turns being the assistant to whomever is in charge of dinner for the night. Between myself as an American, him as a Spaniard and us living in Denmark, we have endless idea’s to try out between the pair of us :)

    • Reply
      Sonja
      January 15, 2015 at 9:02 pm

      Wow, what a multicultural household! I’d love to hear some of the ideas the two of you cook up?

  • Reply
    Nina at FocusedonFit.com
    January 14, 2015 at 2:07 pm

    Having just launched our site last fall, we are spending even more time together in the kitchen and working together. You’ve highlighted some great tips to keeping it fun and productive! Thanks!

    • Reply
      Sonja
      January 15, 2015 at 9:04 pm

      You are so welcome! Congratulations on your site — Alex and I also work together at the office and at home, so we appreciate the partnership you’re building together.

  • Reply
    [email protected] and Pigs
    January 14, 2015 at 3:56 pm

    I love cooking with my boyfriend, he has a great technical knowledge, so can rescue my failed pastry and bread dough’s, he helps me make my foodie visions a reality. Only problem is if there’s two of us in the kitchen we literally cant turn round its so small.

    • Reply
      Sonja
      January 15, 2015 at 9:05 pm

      Good point – space in the kitchen is often an issue when cooking together! And glad to hear your boyfriend is your food savior – so is my husband!

  • Reply
    Susan
    January 14, 2015 at 9:46 pm

    Very interesting to read this. My husband can be a help in the kitchen on occasions, but our levels of experience are vastly different (I’ve been cooking for for myself for more than 50 years, versus his 5 years of cooking as a widower). He doesn’t mind cooking but hates learning to do new things in the kitchen. The best we do is when I make the salad to his spaghetti sauce. Our kitchen is small, and I get grumpy when someone is in my way. I’m glad you two have a good time in the kitchen together. Maybe I’ll see if my husband would be interested in collaborating? Just for fun.

    • Reply
      Sonja
      January 15, 2015 at 9:07 pm

      Yes, yes, yes on collaborating! We know that cooking together isn’t for everyone, but it’s so much fun when you can get it to work. We find putting on the music and pouring a fine beverage helps to set a lighthearted mood too, so that could potentially help your husband to see it as an activity instead of a chore.

  • Reply
    martochka
    January 15, 2015 at 8:05 am

    Cooking is my alone time. It relaxes me and helps me unwind after work. And I usually listen to music or have a series on while I prep and cook. All that means that my lovely husband is urged (and sometimes reminded) to stay out of the kitchen :) But I definitely relish the fact that he does all the dishes.

    • Reply
      Sonja
      January 15, 2015 at 9:08 pm

      Haha, well it sounds like the cooking / dishes partnership works quite well for you! Cooking together isn’t always an option for some, so it sounds like you’ve done a good job splitting the work in a way that works for your lifestyles and skills.

  • Reply
    Chris
    January 15, 2015 at 4:02 pm

    Great photo! You guys inspire me! My husband and I do share kitchen jobs, but not together as you two. Maybe we need to make the time for something fun like this on occasion. Like a weekend cooking date!

  • Reply
    kristie {birch and wild}
    January 18, 2015 at 11:42 am

    I have slowly been teaching my husband to cook by getting him to help me in the kitchen. He was resistant for a long time, as he didn’t like the idea of me knowing so much more about something than him, but now he appreciated the knowledge a lot. We try to make it fun, and always laugh at our mistakes. Thanks for this post !

    • Reply
      Sonja
      January 18, 2015 at 3:36 pm

      Kristie, this is awesome! I’m so excited to hear that your husband now enjoys the kitchen. And laughing at yourselves is so key too! I love this :)

  • Reply
    Lauren
    January 27, 2015 at 3:07 am

    I completely and utterly agree! Especially about the leader part! I find i hate cooking alone these days unless i commit to a project meal like a complex bake or something.

  • Reply
    Cara
    February 18, 2015 at 12:17 am

    Love this! I’m a good cook but hated to do it until I started doing it with my boyfriend… The happy memories and joy of sharing a homecooked meal made together make it that much more rewarding. I also find it comforting to try out new things with someone who I know will love me even if they flop… Now I’ll gladly cook by myself every day, but enjoy it so much more with him. What great suggestions!

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