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Decided to mix things up and dine in rather than out? Taking such a leap opens the door to tons of recipes, a truly intimate atmosphere and less spending overall. If you’re embarking on an early-in-the-relationship date, this option may stir up some anxiety. Even if you’re comfortable with the other person, you may not know where to start. Fear not, this step-by-step guide will help you seamlessly pull together a date night in your kitchen:
Because you’ll want to gather all your ingredients and be prepared to tackle your recipe, you want to first pick the meal. Make sure you’re aware of all food allergies or preferences before diving into shopping and cooking. Is your partner allergic to shellfish? Is she a vegetarian? These things are very important in making the date go smoothly, so use open communication and don’t try to pull any huge surprises.
If you’re so keen on making the meal a surprise, opt for one that avoids meat and the seven most allergy-prone foods: milk, eggs, nuts, fish, shellfish, soy and wheat.
Also consider the following things when choosing your date menu:
Next you need to collect your ingredients and cooking tools. If the recipe calls for a grinder, but you have no such thing in your kitchen, go buy one. Don’t foolishly assume you can substitute pepper for curry powder. If the recipe calls for something, get your hands on it. A date night is no time to be experimenting wildly, as mistakes may cost you your love life.
You’ll want to begin cooking prep before your guest arrives. Go ahead and begin chopping your vegetables, for example. If your casserole needs to bake for an hour, have it laid out and ready to pop in the oven before the doorbell rings. Depending on how late your date starts, you may even want to have that casserole baking for a while before your partner’s arrival.
After you’ve completed cooking prep, clean up the kitchen and put away all dirty dishes. Wipe down the table and countertops and have the place looking spotless. If you suspect you and your date will venture from the kitchen, take the time to vacuum and straighten up the rest of your residence. No, you don’t need to rent new furniture or buy a new television for your date, but you don’t want to look like a slob either.
Comfortably seat your guest in the kitchen as you finish up the cooking. Lay out some finger foods like cheese and crackers. This will make it easier to talk to one another, as you’re not stuck staring at each other. If you’re losing conversational steam, talk about the recipe you’ve chosen: why you chose it, the process to cook it, etc. Use this time to gauge how the night is going, and how long you’d like your guest to stick around.
If you’re having a terribly crummy time, you can use the completion of dinner to mark the end of your date. You don’t even have to offer dessert if it’s really going that badly.
Otherwise, serve dessert and pour some more wine (assuming you offered some during the meal). You can also mix up some cocktails or serve some beer if your partner is partial to either of these. Alcoholic beverages are certainly not necessary, but can effectively lighten the mood and make conversation a little easier.
See? Just because you don’t have waiters to break in at awkward pauses doesn’t mean you can’t have a successful date in your kitchen. If anything, dining in allows for a more personal exchange, a more personal menu and a way cheaper alternative to eating out. Next time you ask someone on a date, consider what your kitchen has to offer.