Cooking Dinner for Your Date: Dos and Don’ts


A fledging couple can only see so many movies and go to so many restaurants before things get monotonous. Once you’ve reached the point in your dating relationship where you feel comfortable enough to share your home space with your Significant Other, why not invite him over for a home-cooked meal?  This is a signal that you’re ready to share your personal life and space with him. Preparing a meal for your date signifies the next level in your relationship. This next level could result in intimacy, a deeper kinship, or act as a prelude to moving in together. It all depends on your attitude and that of your date. And, like they say, the best way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. Come to think of it,  a good meal, prepared and served by an  attentive male in his own home, is a practically foolproof  way to a woman’s heart!



Do set the proper tone. Clean your apartment before your date arrives. If you have a room-mate, let them know you’ll be commandeering the kitchen for a  dinner date so they don’t casually interrupt you in the middle of a romantic toast! Set the table with your best dishes, cloth napkins and nice glassware. Save the cartoon glasses for Comic-Con, unless you know your date is a nerd who would enjoy such a quirky table setting. Choose background music that you and your date will both enjoy. Avoid playing DJ or music critic. Tonight is all about fun and relaxation.

Do plan the menu in advance. Have all the food purchased and check your stove, oven, blender and other appliances to make sure they are in top shape the day before your romantic date. Do a test run if you’re unsure of preparation time.

Do prepare for mishaps. Keep paper towels and spray cleaner close by – even the well-prepared cook has to deal with spills and other gaffes. Wear an attractive apron over your clothes-it doesn’t necessarily have to be a sexy one: that’s your call.

Do experiment with libations.  Add a creative twist to the evening by preparing an out of the ordinary mixed drink.  Check out The Bartender’s Best Friend: A Complete Guide to Cocktails, Martinis, and Mixed Drinks or other cocktail guide to discover an unusual drink to serve your date. It will show your sweetie you’ve put some thought into every aspect of the evening.  If you date doesn’t drink alcohol, you can always experiment with fruit smoothies, like Paula Deen’s Tropical Fruit Smoothie recipe.

 Do ask for a little help.  You’re the chef and your date is the guest, so you’re in charge of the menu, the basting and the slicing and dicing. But your sweetie can join in by uncorking the wine, lighting the candles or stirring the spaghetti sauce. This brings your date closer to the stove and closer to you, adding a bit of camaraderie to meal preparation.

Do serve appetizers. In the Chicago Tribune article Romance is Served, author Cathy Erway (The Art of Eatng In) suggests serving an appetizer, salad, main dish and dessert.  She suggests veggies and hummus as an appetizer for novice cooks.



Don’t use cilantro, garlic or other mood killers!  Mint and cilantro may add  a fresh taste to gourmet dishes, but they can dim the sex drive. Poppy seeds can get stuck between teeth, and red wine or too much coffee can stain your pearly whites. After you’ve known your date awhile, you might laugh at these things. But it’s better to be safe than sorry in the beginning stages of courtship.  Avoid excessive amounts of garlic or onion so you won’t have exhaust a pack of breath mints before that first big smooch.

Don’t stress!  Sure, you want to make a good impression, but if you’re too nervous or high-strung your date will notice it and feel even more uncomfortable than you do.

Don’t cook dinner on the first date.  Wait until at least the third date before inviting a date into your home. It’s best to get a sense of someone’s personality, and their likes and dislikes  before whipping up a meal for them. You’ll also need to know if they have any food allergies or an intense phobia about certain ingredients, like tomatoes, celery or onions.

Don’t try out a complicated recipe on your date. Choose a dish you’ve cooked before and gather all the ingredients and cooking utensils at least a few hours before the meal. Avoid dishes that take a long time to prepare. You don’t want your date nodding off before the first course.

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