Maybe it’s because my boyfriend and I are fast-approaching 30, and going out “hard” is something we now take a hard pass on, or maybe it’s because we live in one of the most expensive cities in the world, but either way, eating out—and even ordering in—doesn’t have the same appeal that it once did. Sure, we do our share of restaurant eating and Indian takeout on the couch, but the habit’s gone from nearly nightly to once or twice a week. And it’s the same for a lot of my friends. I know it’s a healthier choice than eating out, and probably saves me some money, too, but ultimately, the best part is having a built-in hour-long cooking date with my boyfriend in the middle of a hectic week.
That’s why it didn’t shock me when I found out about a 1,000-person survey that pointed to the positive effects cooking can have on relationships. The survey, which—full disclosure—was conducted by a kitchenware company called Calphalon, found that 88 percent of people in serious relationships (and more, among those who are engaged or married) think cooking together can help improve communication with their partners. 92 percent of people also think cooking for one another is a way of showing love.
“We started getting Hello Fresh because with the insane amount of hours I work per week, combined with my husband’s crazy grad-school research schedule, cooking dinner is one of the only times we spend quality time together,” says Phoebe, age 31, of Boston. “It’s just a bonus that we end up eating a delicious meal—and patting ourselves on the back for making it—at the end of the process.”
My S.O. and I have had a similar experience. We’re on-and-off Blue Apron users (I’ve read that PeachDish and Plated are good, too) and on the weeks we do have our fridge stocked with ingredients, we find ourselves more excited to get home from work at a decent hour to get started on the recipes. But you obviously don’t need a food delivery service to take advantage of cooking QT. In an effort to cut down on the rich brunches we found ourselves having a little too often, we committed to cooking our own breakfast whenever possible on weekends. My boyfriend is super-proud of his newly acquired avocado toast-making skills, not to mention that instead of rushing off to a workout class or meet up with friends, we just sit together and have a calm start to our day.
There’s definitely something about the combination of such a relaxing yet productive activity that seems to foster bonding as well as communication.”Cooking with my boyfriend is one of our favorite domestic things to do,” says Alec, 29, of New York City. “We both love food, so that’s something we share, but it’s also just nice to work around each other in the kitchen and listen to music. I often find that we’ll end up talking something out, like a work problem or little gripe one of us had been stewing about, and it’s somehow easier to do that when you’re chopping parsley than staring into each other’s eyes. Less pressure, maybe.”
It’s also an action of care and nurturing that speaks volumes when you’re not hearing the right words from your partner. Just a few evenings ago, my boyfriend and I were snipping at each other about something dumb; I left to exercise, and when I came back, he was halfway through the prep for a salmon dinner. My irritation from earlier melted away, and I couldn’t resist hugging him. I guess I’d have to join the 78 percent of Americans in that survey who believe that couples who cook together, stay together.