Should You Cook a Meal on the First Date? 10 Tips for Tapas

These tips for cooking on your first date will make your evening fun, interactive, and interesting. Cooking together will help you get to know each other in a whole new way!

Cooking a meal on your first date can help you figure out what’s important to you in a potential partner. Even if you’re dating after divorce, you may not be 100% sure what you’re looking for.

“The trick is knowing when to compromise and when to go for it,” writes Dr Joy Browne in Dating For Dummies.  “To do that, you have to know what’s really important to you. Once you know that, don’t settle.”

If your date isn’t supportive and interested in your fulfillment…then don’t worry about what to cook on a first date. Focus on finding a different partner! For dating tips, read The Tao of Dating: The Smart Woman’s Guide to Being Absolutely Irresistible.

And, check out these ideas for cooking on the first dinner date…

Should You Cook a Meal on the First Date? 10 Tips for Tapas

Too much romance might be awkward on a first date, so these tips are geared towards relaxation and fun times.

These dating tips are geared towards a woman cooking for a man, to make them easier to write. They could just as easily apply to a man cooking for a first dinner date with a woman!

1. Let go of the pressure to impress your date. The best way to impress your date is to be relaxed, calm, and happy — and not worried about how you’re being perceived! Don’t make your first date more stressful than it needs to be, by cooking filet mignon, white truffle mushrooms, and organic purple cauliflower to be sautéed in a three pepper cheese sauce. Sure, your may notice the food — but it’s you he’s there to get to know.

If you’re worried about being attractive or impressive, read 10 Interesting Things to Talk About With Your Girlfriend.

2. Ask your date what his or her favorite meal is. When you’re deciding what to cook for your first date at home, do a little digging. What’s her favorite restaurant? Her favorite type of food? Any allergies? I’m not saying you should cook your date’s exact favorite meal; however, I do think it’s important to get a feel for what she likes. Plus, smart dating is all about getting to know each other better.

3. Pick something you can cook with your date. Making sushi is one of my favorite things to do with my husband. It’s interesting, complicated, and fun to eat – and we’re equally inexperienced at it, so we’re learning new things together. When you’re deciding what to cook your date for dinner, consider something that you can do together. Even if it turns out horribly, it’ll give you something to laugh about on your second date!

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4. Ask your date to bring something. You can make interesting personality observations based on what dish he brings on your first date. Don’t be shy — make it fun! Ask your date to bring dessert or an appetizer. If he ignores your request and brings a case of beer, then you know what you’ll be cooking on a second date (and it better be nothing). Asking him to bring something can help you connect as dating partners, and makes your date feel needed.

5. Cook something interactive — anactivity. Slurping soup and buttering bread doesn’t give you anything to talk about. Whatever you cook on a first date should encourage you to talk about more than the usual “get to know you” stuff. If you’re rolling fajitas or dipping bits of meat or veggies in a hot chicken broth fondue, you have built-in conversation starters for the first date – and you won’t be as nervous.

first date dinner6. Avoid stir fry noodles, spaghetti, or chili dogs. I gotta say, it’s difficult to eat stir fry noodles or spaghetti and meat balls at the best of times, much less when you’re trying to impress a first date. I think chopsticks for Asian food (sushi!) is a nice challenge, though – especially if you set forks out.

7. Consider a tapas meal. Tapas are “little dishes” – Mediterranean I think – and they’d be a fantastic meal to cook for a first dinner date. Arrange an assortment of cheeses, olives, meats, apple slices, hummus, pita bread, pickles and whatever you fancy on the table or coffee table. This is a interactive way to eat dinner at home, and it’ll help improve your dating life by adding a bit of culture and spice.

8. Avoid meals that require a lot of preparation. Whether it’s your first date or your 50th, you don’t want to be spending all your time in the kitchen cooking and no time talking. If the meal does require preparation, do it in advance. Better yet, invite your date into the kitchen and give him some slicing and dicing to do.

9. Give your date a chore! Does she balk at the idea of putting on an apron, or is she right there beside you, chopping up those onions? It’s always good to know a date’s stance in the kitchen before things go too far…because you don’t want to be the only one in the relationship who knows where the garlic press is.

10. Remember that dating isn’t about the food. If your first date involves cooking dinner at home or eating in a five star gourmet restaurant is the least important part of the evening! Do you and your date have lots to talk about? Is your date fun to be with? Do you feel comfortable with him? Focus on the things that matter – which are more important than impressing a first date by cooking dinner at home.

Are you nervous about dating? Read How to Increase Self-Love and Improve Your Relationships.

Laurie's "She Blossoms" Books

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Growing Forward When You Can't Go Back offers hope, encouragement, and strength for women walking through loss. My Blossom Tips are fresh and practical - they stem from my own experiences with a schizophrenic mother, foster homes, a devastating family estrangement, and infertility.

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How to Let Go of Someone You Love: Powerful Secrets (and Practical Tips!) for Healing Your Heart is filled with comforting and healthy breakup advice. The Blossom Tips will help you loosen unhealthy attachments to the past, seal your heart with peace, and move forward with joy.

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When You Miss Him Like Crazy: 25 Lessons to Move You From Broken to Blossoming After a Breakup will help you refocus your life, re-create yourself, and start living fully again! Your spirit will rise and you'll blossom into who you were created to be.


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8 thoughts on “Should You Cook a Meal on the First Date? 10 Tips for Tapas

  • Laurie Post author

    Neat that you’re dating your ex! I’ve heard of people remarrying the person they divorced a few years ago, but for some reason the concept of dating your ex is new to me 🙂

    Yes, cooking a meal on the first date would be awkward and perhaps even dangerous if you met your date online. Be careful!

  • kim

    I am actually going on a date with my ex.. We have not seen each other in 16 years..and we are doing a picnic lunch at the park…We have decided to split duties.. I am cooking the food and he is bringing the wine and dessert, but I agree never have a first date with someone online….not safe at all.

  • Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen Post author

    Hi Maria,

    Thanks for your comment!

    I agree that cooking a meal on the first date isn’t the best way to meet someone online for the first time…but what about a first date with someone you already know?

    First dates aren’t reserved for people meeting for the first time.

  • Maria

    Is this for real ? First date dinner? Ever heard of date rape?
    What signals can this possibly be sending to a man if you either A. invite him to YOUR house on a first date or B. Go to his house.

    The only POSSIBLE way this is safe if it’s someone you already know, ie; work with, know well through friends, this is not a safe, “fun” way to get to know someone you may have met online.

  • Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    I just realized that BBQing is a great way to cook together on your first date! Putting him in charge of the grill — or taking over the BBQ yourself, and letting him focus on the side dishes — is a neat way to get to know each other.

    Better yet, put together a picnic and BBQ at a local park. That way you avoid the awkwardness of having him over to your place, especially if you don’t know him well.

  • LauriePK

    One of my favorite things to do as a married couple is to cook dinner together….put on relaxing or energizing music (depending on the day you’ve had), crack open a bottle of wine or hard liquor (again, depending on the day you’ve had!), and experiment in the kitchen….could lead to experimenting in other rooms, too! 😉

  • Bruce

    This is also great for adding a bit of spice to your marriage. After all, how many first dates can you have once you tie the knot?!

  • alex farguson

    I found your blog on google and read a few of your other posts. I just added you to my Google News Reader. Keep up the good work. Look forward to reading more from you in the future.