Mr. Cubic Zirconia here, dear reader.

My wife has always known her way around the kitchen.

Family legend has it that she watched cartoons on television and prepared breakfast for herself at age 3 (milk and microwaved coffee and mushrooms) while her parents still slept. 

A not-to-be-disclosed number of decades later, she is a great cook who enjoys trying out new recipes and making delicious things happen with food. 

So it would probably be totally understandable if she ended up marrying a man who let her do her thing with breakfast, lunch and dinner.

After all, even in the enlightened 2020s, a man who doesn’t want to be involved in kitchen duty still has plenty of historical, societal and familial cover for an at least semi-acceptable excuse that when it comes to the household division of labor “cooking is something women are supposed to do”.

But that’s not me.

Cooking together regularly with my wife is one of my greatest pleasures.

And even before we were married, it had already become one of my favorite ways to enjoy quality time with the future Mrs. Cubic Zirconia. 

Over the years, we’ve cooked together in a score of houses.

Sometimes we’ve had a big, well-equipped kitchen where you’ve got every gadget and we know where everything is located (nice!). 

Other times it’s someone else’s kitchen or one that isn’t really good.

We’ve even prepped hot meals for weeks at a time over a campfire, on an outdoor grill, in a kitchen so small you can barely turn around, or on a tiny hot plate.

Sometimes even an industrial kitchen (though we’ve not yet been able to try one of those blast freezers to instantly freeze desserts like they have in that Netflix baking show my wife likes to watch).

The variety of kitchen size and quality we’ve experienced makes me feel like the location of cooking doesn’t matter so much as some of the other “ingredients”.

You can make good food just about anywhere if you know how to make good food and have access to the right ingredients.

The kitchen location doesn’t matter much to having quality time when cooking together as a couple.

But if you get these other ingredients right, the experience can be magical and a great way to strengthen your relationship as a couple.

Get these non-food ingredients wrong, though…and you’re toast! Cooking together will just seem like a chore -- and who needs another one of those?

Whip Up a Batch of Consistency

Can we do it every day?
(cook together I mean)


Do we want to do it every day?
(cook together I mean)

Two cups of him and her in the kitchen to make a ratatouille, roast, or ragout needn't be a nightly pursuit, but we think a committed couple that enjoys cooking together should try to make it a weekly thing at least. 

We usually do it a few nights a week-- and like it enough that we do it on vacation, too, by prioritizing a rental of hotels, homes and apartments that come equipped for cooking and storing foods. 

Sure, sometimes we eat out or order in. 

And sometimes it's more convenient for one partner to get dinner to the table and the other to clean up after-- but when busy couples can spare some time to work together in the kitchen routinely, they can enjoy important quality time together (which also makes cooking chores a whole lot easier).

That’s why we make an effort to make cooking together a consistent thing we can both look forward to doing together.

Of course, like we discussed in our past blog post “Spending a little money for a housekeeper: easy way for couples to avoid stress, buy more time alone and time together”, it makes it even easier when you cook together and leave the dishes for the housekeeper to get tomorrow morning.

Stir Up a Plan

Once you commit to spending a couple evenings a week cooking together as a couple, you’ll wanna be sure to plan meals that you can both enjoy cooking together. 

Grilled cheese and tomato soup might not afford you the quality time you want to spend together (because it's so easy for one person to make). 

But when you choose meals that can benefit from two cooks instead of one, you’ll find that feeling beat and battered can give way to relaxed banter in just minutes of working side by side with your significant other to take a bunch of ingredients and together charm them into something that’s to-die-for .

Try multi-step meals. 

With homemade pasta and meatballs, one partner makes the pasta and the other the meatballs. 

With teriyaki fried rice, you can handle the rice and meat while he or she chops the veggies and gets them ready for the wok.

We’re not talking about a huge formal plan. Basically just make sure you'll have all the ingredients you need on hand for your couple's cooking nights.

We make a meals list some weeks in advance to help with grocery shopping and overall house organization… many people don’t plan more than a day ahead.

One cool idea we heard about but haven’t tried yet?

Include a cooking challenge like one of those Netflix shows.

I think they should do a show where couples try to cook a meal missing an important ingredient one of them was supposed to buy earlier. 

I’d pay to watch that!

But seriously, maybe you cook something you've never made before but would love to try-- like Indonesian satay or Hungarian goulash. 

One Little Chef Too Many

If you have kids, you no doubt already know that it's hard to cook when you've got a toddler underfoot and/or a small child grabbing for your every brain cell. 

Three’s a crowd in the kitchen. Too many cooks spoil the soup. Pick your metaphor.

By all means, cook with your kids. Teach ‘em to bake cookies, measure ingredients and be comfortable providing for themselves. But there’s a time and place for little chef training…and when a man and wife are trying to spend quality time together in the kitchen ain’t it in our opinion.

Think about hiring a neighbor or neighbor's teen to sit with your younger kids while you cook at least one night a week. 

If this isn't convenient, maybe you can set your kids up with some pre-dinner activities that they can safely perform at the table alone (like coloring or a puzzle). 

It's hard to focus on each other and meal prep while minding your kids, but you shouldn’t feel guilty about getting some screen help from Anna and Elsa, Buzz Lightyear, or the puppies from Paw Patrol to entertain the munchkin(s) on your behalf. After all, you can make up for it by spending quality family time together during the meal itself.

Best would be getting them outta the house, though, watched by a trusted neighbor. We've hired quite a few neighbors (and kids of neighbors) over the years. 

Because if you’re a parent, you know this is true: face it, if they’re in the house, you aren’t focused on each other as a couple (and that’s the entire point of doing this together when we both know you could just couch potato call-it-in and push a few buttons on a smartphone to get dinner delivered).

You can even use what we call the “baby carrot” technique: don’t throw a fit, be good for your babysitter for the next hour and you can pick dessert after dinner. This is a time when the carrot truly works better than the stick.

A spoonful of sugar and No Sour Grapes

There are a couple things you want to avoid on your couple's cooking nights. 

Don’t bite the hand that feeds you. Try to avoid bossiness or micromanaging-- even if you do dice herbs with more panache than he does. 

It's not so fun when one partner plays top chef to the other's sous chef (you know, unless it’s part of an intentional fantasy one of you has to be verbally abused by a domineering head chef with whom he/she is nonetheless in which case, shout away at the sous chef you little silver spoon spanker you). 

Seriously, though. Keep it light and sweet. 

The meat and potatoes of a couples cooking night is the experience being pleasant-- not the plate being perfect.

If an accident occurs and she knocks the casserole onto the floor -- or God forbid, his sizzling steaks should slide off the serving platter into the dog's water bowl (it could happen), take our advice and laugh it off. 

That's what a rainy day fund is for, anyway. 

Fixing your spouse’s mistakes. 

Just pick up the phone and order pizza. 

Be willing to forgive one another's mistakes; indulge each other with smiles, don’t  censor or criticize, don’t bite his or her head off.

Work on Your Chops

Anyone can improve their cooking skills, but why not do so together as a couple? 

You could take a few cooking classes to spend more time together and enhance your skill sets. 

If you're both already competent cooks, consider a baking class. A mixology class. Maybe even learn how to plate a meal and make it pretty. It’s really not that hard to make a rice mound-- and people love taking pictures if you do it right.

One surefire winner is a class demonstrating how to cook a cuisine you love but have never tried to replicate at home. 

You could find a series of Cajun cooking classes, learn how to create imperfect-but-still-delicious sushi rolls, or concoct a mouthwatering tarte tatin under the direction of a local French chef (hopefully you have more luck reproducing the taste of restaurant Cajun food than we have).

Cooking classes are common in touristy areas, in our experience. 

They can be harder to find at home. But they do exist. Check with area community colleges or cooking schools designed for actual chefs to learn the craft-- and you’ll likely find that at times these institutions offer cooking classes for mere mortals, too.

Use what you have

Cooking at home can be a terrific way to save money over ordering in or eating out. 

You and your partner can have fun and be frugal, too: just use what you have and cook up delicious, creative meals that don't need fancy, expensive ingredients. 

Consider the ingredients you already have on hand when planning your couple's cooking nights. 

The same goes for special kitchen gadgets. 

We all have that relative who has 3 lazy susans’ worth of unopened spice bottles they never use, a drawer of utensils still with store stickers, and 17 gadgets that all compete for space while getting covered in dust on an extremely-cluttered counter. 

Honestly, you don't need a garlic press to cook with garlic. 

A single spatula will do ya.

A pineapple corer slicer? 30 seconds to perfect pineapple rings and no wasted fruit. We love that thing. But if you don’t have the specialty cutting device, it’s still not super complicated to get pineapple rings.

And you don't need an air fryer to make french fries (though, it really does make healthier, restaurant-quality fries!). 

In fact, when you keep your kitchen dates budget-friendly, you shouldn’t feel guilty about the occasional splurge just for you as a couple. 

A dressed-up night on the town?
Letting someone else cook for you a week in a row?
An adults-only vacation?

Sounds good to us.

Spice with variety (and abandon)

When you’re cooking and baking together as a couple, you’re basically making a big batch of quality time by combining 2 cups of time alone with 3 tablespoons of conversation, stirring in a teaspoon of saving money-- and season with flirting to taste. 

Baking might require rigid instructions at times.

Cooking really doesn’t.

There isn’t a meal out there that couldn’t be improved-- if you have the courage to take what’s good and try to make it better.

My wife and I haven’t yet hit on the best recipe for cheesy white alfredo sauce, the most delicious way to stuff a poblano pepper with chicken, bacon and cheeses, or the perfect blend of baked sweet potato with broiled teriyaki pork chops-- but we’ve found a few dozen ways of making each dish that were all pretty damn good (and a few lemon bombs, too, we’ll admit).

Sometimes one of us will suggest a new addition to one of our old favorite meals. Maybe you wanna try an ingredient neither of you has ever tried before like saffron or roasted cumin powder? In our kitchen, the other partner almost invariably says “let’s go for it”-- even if they think the idea is kinda half-baked. 

If we didn’t experiment, we’d never know that the world’s best beef-and-beans red sauce chili is served on top of -- but separately cooked from -- elbow macaroni noodles smothered in melted Kirkland American cheese from Costco.

What, you didn’t know that? (true story)

 A dash of spontaneity is worth a pint of the same old, same old soup! 

Don't be afraid to try new recipes together. And don’t be too embarrassed to tweak old favorite recipes with a small bit of something new. 

These days, you can find step-by-step cooking recipes online. You can also visit your library and check out some cookbooks to find some recipes you'd both like to attempt. But don’t think of those things as set in stone. 

Changing up your menu is a great way to improve your repertoire of meals and cultivate new skills. 

Add a Pinch of Music

Heat things up in the kitchen with your favorite getting-closer-to-my-lover music playing as you scoop, sift, strain, stir, sauté, simmer and sear. 

Could be steamy classic rock love songs is your cuppa. 

Maybe what Feels So Right are slow, country love ballad duets. 

Or y’all get in the groove with R&B slow jamz.

Or even the guilty pleasure of 90s boybands even some men like (but won’t admit; just be sure to check the windows are closed or you can kiss your manly reputation with the neighbors bye, bye, bye) 

On the other hand, if "Lick It Up" by Kiss, "Hot Dog" by Zep, or "Lost in the Supermarket" by The Clash gets you jammin’ while chopping veggies or stirring sauce, you can create any ‘audioscape' for your kitchen date that you like.

We won’t judge (much).

When you put on some music, dancing in the kitchen might not happen often-- but it only needs to happen a few times to become a memory of a marriage well-lived and much-loved.

Infuse with Ambience

In addition to music, you might want to try spicing up your cooking nights with whatever might be your favorite ambience booster as a couple. 

Maybe it’s wine.
‘Why wait for the meal to open a bottle of wine?’, we say 

Other popular icings on the cake might be candles, cannabis or cocktails. 

We tried the candles thing. It felt cheesy, to be honest.

And cannabis isn’t our thing. Beer neither.

But alcohol in the form of wine or cocktails can be a nice relaxer to start winding the day down from dinner to date to dessert.

‘Let them eat cake’, you say?

Eat cake in bed, we say.

Don’t ruin all that good anticipatory preparation by scattering your attention away from the object of your affection.

Give your devices the silent treatment during dinner prep and meal times so you can keep the world at bay while you get back to being two peas in a pod, committed to enjoying each other's company without outside distractions.

Don't Burn Her Biscuits

Not burning my wife's biscuits–- this is my silly way of reminding myself to keep our kitchen couples cooking night conversations light and airy. 

Don't tackle big issues in a hot kitchen. 


When food is grilled, it gets held over a fire.

That sounds painful. You don’t want to grill him or her.

No tough questions or interrogation. Keep serious discussions that might result in hurt feelings, anger, rejection or irritation out of the kitchen.

The last thing you want is an association of this time with arguments or other negative experiences.

Serious discussions merit one-on-one focus, and it's challenging–-and not very fun–to talk about meaty subject matter over the sizzle of bacon or the crackling of frying chicken. 

We wanna use our cooking time to have fun together-– not to dwell on the tough day at work or a problem with the inlaws. 

Our advice: just talk about simple stuff while you prep the meal together

Eat the Whole Enchilada

On those evenings you make an effort to cook together as a couple, why not make it a stay-at-home date night? 

Your date doesn't have to end when you put down your forks. 

Maybe you want to try creating dinner-and-a-movie nights complete with a theme. 

You could try:

  • Julia & Julia with beef bourguignon (don’t worry, yours won’t be as pretty as the movie’s chef’s dish either)
  • Casablanca and Moroccan kefta tagine 
  • Dangal with chicken tikka masala
  • Forrest Gump and shrimp gumbo
  • Roman Holiday with linguini and clams
  • Chef and savory, Cuban paninis like ones hot off the food truck
  • Friday Night Lights with Tex-Mex Chili (just don’t forget the side of cheesy macaroni)

Life can get pretty hectic, which means couples have to be mindful about protecting their alone time. 

Cooking together can add a touch more spice to your relationship. 

Since you both have to eat, you might as well both do the cooking together! 

And if you’re gonna do the cooking together, why not make an effort to make your time together special?

Don't yet have the habit to cook together and wanna start one? Why not gift him/her a grill for the next birthday or anniversary or special gifting occasion? Or a breadmaker? Or a kitchen apron (points for a funny one). You could choose a wok. Hell, even a spatula wrapped up in a gift box would work to start the conversation (and won't that be funny, since who doesn't already have a darn spatula).

The kitchen is just another place to inspire and be inspired by one another. 

Mrs. Cubic Zirconia and I discovered long ago that mashing, mincing, and mixing is a fun and flirty way to make life taste better!

Hmm…now where did I put that delectable butternut squash recipe?

Mr. Cubic Zirconia