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Cooking Together to Build Relationships AND Dinner

Because of our varying work schedules, my wife and I only get to eat our evening meal together three nights a week. On Tuesdays, I am home from work early and cook the evening meal (often something on the grill). We eat together on Sunday evenings as well. Often that is something simple like grilled Portobello sandwiches or pancakes and sausage.


That leaves Fridays (our mutual day off) as a day where we can not only eat together, but also cook together. Usually we will choose a recipe for Friday early in the week so that we can purchase the ingredients ahead of time. We try not to go overboard with ridiculously difficult or exotic dishes, BUT we like to expand our normal meal selection.


Usually some time around 4:00 pm we start the preparation process. A lot of the recipes we choose have a good bit of prepping to do ahead of time. We try to follow the mis en place technique of having everything prepped and available before the actual cooking begins.


This informal time of prepping the food gives us a good time for conversation, to catch up on the week or to discuss upcoming events. It’s low key and the conversation flows naturally as we split up responsibilities for various ingredients. Usually I take the actual cooking duties once everything is prepped. 


Once it’s complete, we sit down to an unhurried meal and continue the conversations that started during the prep time. It has become a highlight of our week, and I miss it when other responsibilities mean that we miss the time to cook together.


There’s something special about sitting down to eat a meal we have both worked on together. Maybe it is a shared mindfulness of where the food came from and how it was prepared. Maybe it is a sense of anticipation from having worked with the food for an hour or more by the time we finally eat. Maybe it’s just having uninterrupted time with my wife … but those meals are special.


Your situation might be a little different from ours. But I encourage you to engage with your important people in cooking “therapy”. Choose one meal a week (possibly Saturday breakfast) to get your kids involved in prep and cooking.  Or, if you are “empty nesters” like ourselves, perhaps you choose an evening meal to prepare together. 


To be successful in your time together, here are my tips: 

  1. Put it on the calendar. 
  2. Choose the meal with enough time to ensure the ingredients are on hand. 
  3. Make sure you plan enough time for prep and the meal without having to rush. 
  4. If you’re cooking with children, embrace the mess (and then teach them how to clean it up). 
  5. Remember, it’s about the relationship, not the food. 

Whatever works for you, cooking “therapy” is wonderful for relationships. …And enjoying the meal together is an added bonus. 


P. S. The pics above are of recent collaborative meals we've enjoyed. 

 

By Robby Richardson

 

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