12 Ways to Get Your Partner in the Kitchen

It seems that opposites really do attract, even when it comes to culinary aspirations. In most relationships I know, there’s a primary “chef of the house,” and the semi-interested, will-cook-sometimes partner who will only go into the kitchen when dragged by their feet or enticed by a snack.

Get Your Spouse to Cook

I think everyone should know a little more than PB&J or pasta with sauce. Today, I’m sharing 12 ideas, some well-tested, some in beta, to get your well-meaning partner off the couch and into the kitchen.

Get that guy or gal cooking, and you might find a new way to spend time together that’s very enjoyable:

  1. Have them assist with mise en place. If your partner wants to help, but is scared off by the prospect of actually putting fire to food, have them prepare the vegetables or other work that can be done at their own pace.
  2. Make it a family event. If you have kids, try to involve them so your partner doesn’t feel all the pressure. For example, you can make a pizza dough and have your family each apply different toppings to the pie. Delicious!
  3. Have them follow a simple recipe. Following recipies can usually break the fear of making something bad, especially if it’s something that doesn’t require error-prone techniques like sauteing.
  4. Designate a “spouse night.” If your partner’s into consistency, getting him to cook once a week (or, dare I say, twice?) could be the best way to establish a routine. Just make sure you clearly prohibit take-out as an acceptable meal.
  5. Try baking as an intro to the kitchen. Baking is a much more measured and controlled experience than cooking. If you have a partner that’s scared of improvisation and making mistakes, see if following a baker’s recipe will be more to their liking. As a bonus, you’ll get a sweet treat to enjoy together.
  6. Make a video or photo gallery. If this sounds like a fun project for the two of you, get technology involved and document your experience. Heck, you could even blog about it!
  7. Recreate your partner’s favorite restaurant food. Showing your significant other how to make their most favorite meals at home could get them in the kitchen (and save a ton of money, too!). But be careful–this can backfire if your partner is picky about their favorite and yours/theirs doesn’t measure up.
  8. Entice them with gadgets. A lot of men (and some women, too!) go ga-ga for gadgets. Buy something completely cool and new and have your partner take it for a test-run. Before you know it, they’ll be having fun in the kitchen and dinner will be made in the process.
  9. Make an unusual recipe. Sometimes, all it takes to peak the interest of a significant other is something they’ve never tasted. If you can, find a recipe that’s also easy to make so they can replicate it for themselves.
  10. Trade duties. A lot of people dread cooking because it’s a series of steps that can take up an entire evening–from shopping, to preparing, cooking, and cleaning up. On days when your non-culinary spouse has agreed to cook, make it easier for them and get the groceries or offer to clean up when they’re done. Just don’t make it a habit!
  11. Make it a teaching experience. The key is to do it in a way that your partner will enjoy, not something they will dread or get frustrated about. If your partner likes learning from books, leave them alone in the kitchen with a cookbook and don’t bother trying to point out errors during the process!
  12. Participate in the National Men Make Dinner Day. If your husband is the problem, have him try out this fun exercise with his buddies in November. Hey, if you can get him in there for one day out of the year, maybe it will get the ball rolling for a more open relationship with the kitchen.

While I do the majority of cooking at home, my wife is open to the idea and doesn’t mind giving me a day or two off. Most of the stuff she makes is also really tasty, which doesn’t hurt!

What’s it like in your relationship? Do both of you share the duties of cooking, or is it a one-sided thing? Have you found a top-secret way to get your love into the kitchen I haven’t mentioned? Please share!

Photo by janeyhenning