Valentine’s Post: How To Cook As A Couple!
Today we’re gonna talk about cooking as a couple. Working together as partners. Being a team in the kitchen. And actually I have to admit I’m surprised we haven’t really written about this subject yet considering we’re called Poor Couple’s Food Guide. But I guess the last three years have just been busy.
(Actually, no, we just keep forgetting to)
For many people, cooking seems intimidating because of the work involved and I believe that’s a big reason why so many people just give up and get fast food or heat up microwave trash. Yes admittedly there have been days where I was too lazy to cook a meal for myself, or where I was just too put off by the prospect of devoting an hour of my time to rushing around the kitchen, preparing food. It happens to the best of us. But that said, it shouldn’t be a habit, especially if you live with other people. Be it a spouse, family member, or friend, if you combine powers and work together, cooking actually gets really easy and goes a lot faster.
This post can apply to any of the aforementioned people and any situation, since it really just requires two people, but for the most part the person you’re cooking with is gonna be your spouse. Cooking as a couple is not only really useful for saving time and making things easier, but it’s really rewarding since it serves as a great, near-daily bonding activity that lets you grab each other’s asses. Despite the fact you’re doing some work, you can still have conversation about everything ranging from serious business to fun recreation stuff, without interruptions like phones or television, so it lets you get in-sync pretty quickly.
For the purpose of this post we’re going to use pan-fried chicken sauté and homemade french fries as an example.
The most effective way to split the duties in cooking is to basically have two sectors: the main-dish and the side-dishes. One isn’t more important than the other, but one is generally larger than the others and a little more time consuming. Because of this, the main strategy here is to have someone cover the main dish (usually a meat of some sort, but not always) and then have the other person work on the side-dishes, or any other accompaniments to your meal.
From the get-go, you can set someone in charge of the chicken and someone in charge of the veggies. This divides your work evenly, but also makes sense logistically since raw meat is disgusting and cross-contaminates other shit pretty easily. For our meal we had to start preparing the following:
- Chicken cutlets
Cleaning and preparing the chicken into cutlets will likely take longer (unless you’re rich enough to buy pre-cut, pre-cleaned chicken breasts in which case LUCKYYY) so Person A can begin doing this while Person B starts chopping the veggies.
Whenever one of you finishes, you can start gathering pots/pans/utensils for both of you, to prepare for the cooking phase. In this situation, we needed a frying pan for the french fries, a frying pan for the chicken, and a small skillet for the sautéd veggies. Unless you’re making something elaborate, by the time everything is gathered, both of you will be done chopping and cleaning whatever is getting cooked.
Next is when things actually get cooked. Most stoves should be able to fit two pans on it, with two people standing in front of or at least near it. Start cooking your dishes, with Person A covering the main-dish pan, and Person B working on any pans that make side dishes.
During cooking, you’ll probably have some downtime here and there for a minute or two, since most meals don’t have to be hovered over permanently. If you have the chance, let one or both of you get started on cleaning up. Cutting boards, bowls, and anything else you used to get ready can all be cleaned in the sink, placed in a dishwasher, or at very least rinsed off so that they’re easier to clean later.
Again, as with the preparation phase, your main dish and/or meat will usually take up more time than the side dishes. It may end up balancing out if there’s more than one side dish, but sometimes it doesn’t and you’re left with someone who’s finished, they can start on getting your table ready. Setting the table goes really fast, especially if it’s just the two of you. So when taking care of it, you can also finish cleaning anything that wasn’t already cleaned.
When your food is all finished, you get to eat! Enjoy the delicious food you made together, be grateful for all the chickens and veggies that gave their life for your nourishment, and take pride in your relationship. (This part should be pretty easily. If it’s not, perhaps you should seek help outside of our website…)
Once you’re done eating, the final, and most arduous, step comes: cleaning up. Yes, seriously, screw cleaning up. The last thing anyone wants to do after eating awesome food is to stop, put it into a refrigerator, and go mess around with disgusting, food-encrusted pans. Fortunately, this part also lets the “cooking as a team” come into play as well. One person can start putting any leftovers into containers, and loading them into the fridge. As that goes on, let the other person begin cleaning the dishes and utensils, or putting them in the dishwasher. As the pots and pans and serving ware become available for washing, get started on them too. Before you know it, everything will be done, and your kitchen is back to normal.
The tl;dr Version Bullet Points
- Place someone in charge of main dish/meat, and someone in charge of side dish/veggies.
- Work on your individual tasks, almost in a racing fashion, but not directly competitive.
- When one of you finishes your step, either clean up from the last step, or help out by preparing the next step.
- During cooking, one or both of you will inevitably have downtime while waiting for the food to be cooked. When this happens, start cleaning anything that you’re done using.
- Whoever finishes cooking first should set the table, and then finish cleaning/straightening up the counter where you prepared stuff.
- After eating, let one person begin putting any leftovers away while the other cleans your plates, and begins washing any of the pots or pans you used in cooking or serving your dinner.
- Be happy! Cooking together is supposed to be fun. Kiss, flirt, talk, etc… all that shmultzy shit. (Just make sure you don’t perform any of the aforementioned butt-touching right after touching raw foods. Your partner probably won’t appreciate having raw chicken or tomato juice on their ass.)
Try to get into a habit of cooking together as often as possible. As said, it makes dinner go faster, it makes it easier, and it helps foster some of the more important values needed for a healthy relationship, like teamwork, communication, mutual goals, continued flirtation, etc… Even if one of you doesn’t know how to cook period, one person can still help prepare, clean things up, and set the table. Yet even with that, if you cook together enough, that allows the culinarily-inclined of you to teach the other how to cook, and allow them to get better in the kitchen.
Also, let’s be real guys, it’s WAY cheaper cooking at home than going out and spending like $30-$40 on a meal at a restaurant.
Want to actually see a recipe for pan-fried chicken? Here’s one! Now get out there and make the best damned Valentine’s Dinner you can!