When my husband, Tim, and I got married in January of 2020, I was already a bit of a foodie. From a young age, I enjoyed going to the local farmers market in my hometown of Sedgefield, South Africa on Saturdays. I quickly developed a love for fresh and vibrant food! After Tim and I got married, I discovered that he eats much more for fueling purposes rather than the experience. Soon after getting back from our honeymoon, we went into lockdown due to Covid-19. We spent the majority of our first year of marriage in quarantine, which proved to be fun, as we got to spend so much time together, and one way we got to do this was by cooking together, or rather, me cooking and Tim keeping me company.
Although I knew how to cook before marrying Tim, I quickly had to learn how to cook for two and ENJOY cooking for two (or it seems like three or four sometimes!) Whether you’re cooking for two or a household of people, here are a few things I’ve learned over the past year that could be helpful for you, too!
Plan ahead. Planning ahead may seem time-consuming in the moment, but in the long run, it’s a huge time-saver and it helps you stick to a budget. Tim and I both have hectic schedules and travel often, so taking the time to plan helps us stay intentional in a lot of ways. It’s important to both of us to make time for one another, and one of the best ways to do that is over a meal. Face to face time without a phone or an agenda helps us stay connected with each other throughout the week. Picking one day (I usually do my planning on Sundays) to plan out your meals for the week, making a grocery list so you have all that you need, and incorporating leftovers into the plan, makes the process so much more fun! Planning out your meals ahead of time allows for more quality time spent with your friends and loved ones, and less time stressing about what to make for dinner each night.
Make mealtime fun! Being a newlywed and still learning what my husband’s likes and dislikes are, and also expanding my “extravagant” list of recipes that I don’t burn, I’ve tried to find fun ways to come up with recipes. One way that I try to make this process fun, for both myself and Tim, is by experimenting with different recipes, and having Tim pick a winner between the two. For example, one night I made Spaghetti Bolognese (I substituted the spaghetti noodles for zucchini noodles). The second dish I made was Fettuccini Alfredo (I also substituted the fettuccini noodles for zucchini noodles). I believe it was a very tough decision for him, but the zucchini Bolognese ended up being the winner!
Get healthy! Because I consider myself a bit of a foodie and love cooking for my husband, I try to find healthier ways to make some of our favorite comfort foods or recipes. Food is fuel, whether you’re an athlete or not, but food can also be a fun experience. Being a foodie doesn’t have to be the opposite of a healthy lifestyle. Instead of a lot of processed food, choose fresh, unprocessed ingredients if you can (instead of eating a breakfast bar, rather make quick scrambled eggs!). Real food is always better for your body even if it’s more time-consuming to find or cook. Don’t worry, I’m working on a way to make cooking easier and healthier. (More to come about my new company launching soon!)
Get Creative! During quarantine, I found myself cooking bacon every single day. It can become monotonous when your partner loves a particular food or meal, so I started trying to find new and creative ways to cook it and meals to use it in. I wish someone could calculate the amount of bacon we consumed over the last year – it would certainly break some records! Because of that, I started finding ways to incorporate it into other recipes. The best way to find ways to incorporate some of your favorite foods into other recipes is by experimenting. Even if it’s combining foods that may not seem like they go together, sometimes the trial and error method ends up creating the yummiest recipes! I often use some of the left over bacon pieces in my Alfredo sauce, which gave it such a great flavor. With summer right around the corner, I find myself craving more fresh foods. It’s so fun coming up with new recipes that incorporate my favorite fruits and vegetables.
Take mealtime back! The most important thing I learned about cooking for two during a global pandemic is that we should make time for eating together. In a world that constantly wants our attention, where we’re all connected via social media or email, it’s more important than ever to make mealtime a fun, quality time event. Even if you commit to just one or two nights a week, plan ahead so there’s less stress and make it fun and creative. Tim and I usually play Connect Four or Rummikubwhile we eat!