My husband is a doctor in a busy Seattle hospital and I’m a dietitian. Once the daily hustle comes to an end, after we’ve tucked our 1-year-old into bed, we find ourselves, like many others, looking for things to do during these unique circumstances.
We naturally gravitate towards the kitchen—a place where we can unwind and connect, especially during the quarantine.
As a dietitian and cookbook author, the kitchen is a place that has always sustained me. When my husband gets home after a long day at the hospital and I feel spent after juggling working from home while caring for our son, cooking and eating a home cooked meal together provides comfort.
While date nights out are on hold for now, we find that preparing a meal together not only nourishes our bodies, but our spirits and relationship, too. After working all day while trying to stay positive amidst a worldwide crisis, you might think it’s the last thing we have the energy to do, but we have fun and really enjoy and appreciate sitting down to a leisurely meal we made together.
Afterall, food is so much more than fuel. To say it’s an imperative part of comfort, joy, and pleasure is an understatement, and during this extremely stressful period in time, couldn’t we all use more of that?
So, my husband and I did some recipe testing for you and found the best “recipe” for a successful date night in.
- You and your partner
- Homemade food
- Candles and music (optional)
- Prepare a special meal with your partner that you wouldn’t normally make. Coconut and Red Pepper Stew with White Fish anyone?
- Divvy up tasks, work side-by-side, take your time, and have fun.
- Sit down and enjoy the meal and each other’s company without distractions. Candles and music are optional, but highly recommended!
Preparing a special meal together with your partner, whatever that might look like, not only offers you the opportunity to connect, bond, and work towards a shared goal, but it also allows you to slow down and become more mindful. You are more present and aware of your surroundings, your emotions and feelings, hunger and fullness levels, and so on. By doing this, you transition out of “fight or flight” mode and into “rest and digest” mode which actually decreases heart rate and blood pressure and increases digestion. Seconds please!
Depending on your current pantry stock, access to fresh produce, and budget, your date night meal will vary. It doesn’t have to be an elaborate restaurant-style meal, although that’s ok too. Get creative and use what you have on hand or try something new.
If you’re lacking inspiration or don’t know where to start, try this sample menu using mostly pantry-focused recipes:
Appetizer: Baked Salmon Cakes with Lemon Yogurt Sauce
Side dish: Roasted Carrots and Peas
Dessert: Amazing Black Bean Brownies
Considering the nutritional value of your food is always important although now, during a pandemic, is not the time to force yourself into a diet or shame yourself in any way. We’re all doing our best to make the most out of our limitations, so be extra compassionate and kind to yourself during this extraordinary and stressful time.
My hope is that you and your partner find this exercise bonding and therapeutic and, most importantly, delicious!