Cooking for a Date: 6 Tips to Help You Do It the Right Way

Planning a great date usually involves making a reservation at the trendiest restaurant in town. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work out so well. Ridiculous menu prices, outlandishly noisy neighbors, and stuffy service can completely tank your chances of scoring a second date. If you really want to make an impression, try cooking for your date. A 2012 survey from Buitoni revealed 92% of females love having a man cook for them, so lace up that apron.

Good news for kitchen novices: It’s not as hard as it sounds. As long as you make some smart choices and know your limitations, you can pull off a phenomenal meal without breaking a sweat. These six steps will get you on your way to an unforgettable evening.

1. Get some privacy

couple, date night

Dinner for two | iStock.com

When someone accepts an invitation to come to your place for dinner, the assumption is probably that the two of you won’t have company. If you live with other people, communicating with them is absolutely crucial. The Odyssey said you should always let roommates know if you intend to entertain, so they can plan accordingly. That being said, you can’t force them to leave the building. That means common areas should be free from anything more than holding hands. The article also pointed out you and your cohabitants should talk about what’s acceptable and what’s not before anyone ends up witnessing something that makes them squirm.

For some folks, kids are another huge consideration. Even if your special someone loves children, it’s probably not a good idea to rush into introductions. While there aren’t any set rules for the proper amount of time to wait, Dr. Phil told The Huffington Post it’s important to be extremely thoughtful about it. He explained introducing a child to someone who only ends up being in the picture for a short while could make them feel abandoned. The best option is to plan a sleepover or get a trusted friend to watch the kids for the night.

2. Figure out what your date likes to drink

Champagne lemon, drinks, cocktails

Drink with mint | iStock.com

Before you go out to buy the priciest bottle of red you can find, do a little bit of research about your date’s preferences. He or she may have far less expensive tastes. Craft Brewing Business reported more women are reaching for beer these days, even while fewer men pick the fizzy drink as their top choice. If you have any mutual friends or know one of his or her pals, ask about what your date typically likes. If that’s not a possibility, just ask your date directly.

Maybe most important, finding out about beverage choices could reveal your date doesn’t drink alcohol. Men’s Fitness suggested making sure your date is comfortable with you cracking open a can or popping a bottle first. And don’t assume the no-alcohol rule means he or she only guzzles water. Eating Well has a whole gallery of tasty sips for those who skip the booze.

3. Take a little bit of help with appetizers

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Appetizers | iStock.com

Planning dinner is hard enough, so don’t make it more complicated by turning the evening into an eight-course affair. It’s still nice to have something to snack on while you’re cooking and enjoying a glass of wine, though. Instead of attempting to make some miniature tarts, get some assistance from the grocery store. Even entertaining wiz Ina Garten buys some of her snacks. In one episode of Barefoot Contessa, her Food Network show, she suggested stocking up on salami, marcona almonds, and olives. The freezer aisle can also be a great choice, if you’re selective. Serious Eats tasted tons of different offerings and shared their favorites.

If you absolutely must make the starters yourself, go with something easy. You don’t want the pre-dinner bites to be better than the main course. Esquire featured recipes for three of their favorite hors d’oeuvres that just about anyone will love. You could also opt to make one dish, and buy the rest.

4. Make something that’s delicious, but easy

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Alfredo | iStock.com

If you’re a professional cook, then feel free to enlist your smoking gun, immersion circulator, and sausage stuffer. For everyone else, sticking with something simple is a much better plan. The Date Report recommended making something you’re already familiar cooking, and even suggested doing a trial run before the big night. If you have the time, doing something the day before is the least stressful choice. Food & Wine has tons of ideas for dishes that can be made in advance.

Don’t sweat it if your schedule doesn’t permit spending hours in the kitchen the day before, because there are plenty of easy meals that cook quickly. The Huffington Post suggested Thai-style shrimp and spice-rubbed steak. Better yet, have a backup plan. The Art of Manliness shared a recipe for a foolproof Alfredo dish that even the worst cook can’t screw up.

5. Have fun

couple having fun, date

Drinking wine | iStock.com

This tip might sound ridiculously obvious, but it’s worth highlighting. If you’re so caught up in planning the perfect menu and picking the right music, you’ll suck all the enjoyment out of the evening. AskMen said it’s better to focus on the company, not the food. No one is going to enjoy a night where the beef Wellington was more exciting than your conversation.

6. Don’t forget about dessert

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Chocolate chip cookies | iStock.com

Even if your date is stuffed, the night will feel more special if you plan to end with something sweet. Dessert is another place where you might want to consider taking a little bit of help. You could pick up a tart from a bakery, or you might want to go for something a little more casual. The Art of Manliness suggested assembling some ice cream cones for a fun ending to the night.

If you’d rather make something yourself, Men’s Health featured eight phenomenal desserts that aren’t too challenging. But casual is still a good way to go. There are very few people who would turn down a freshly baked chocolate chip cookie.

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