Date night: The home cooked edition

How do you make a good date memorable?

This is a question many co-eds struggle to answer.

The key to turning an ordinary date into an extraordinary one can be as simple as doing something unexpected or different, like cooking a romantic meal for your date instead of going out to eat.

It is a win-win for both. A man who can cook can easily impress a woman and vice versa because food has proven to be one of the keys to a guy’s heart.

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to be an Iron Chef to cook a homemade dinner for your date but you will need some trusted recipes and a few pointers.

Luckily, we have the scoop to help you impress your date by transforming an average evening out into a memorable, creative night in leaving your date impressed and wanting to plan your next night out.

Go on a culinary adventure together

Invite your date over so you two can try a new kind of cuisine together. You could try making Cuban food; visit Taste of Cuba for a directory of recipes. If your taste buds desire something different, cook a plate of Greek food to spice up your date. The Greek Food has the hookup on recipes.

If you’d be more comfortable sticking closer to North American shores, try serving up some Mexican food. A great source for Mexican food is the Latin Kitchen. Whichever direction you go, your date will undoubtedly be impressed with your fearlessness in the kitchen.

Try tapas on for size

Hosting a tapas dinner is a way to kick your date night at home up a notch. A tapas style dinner is a meal made of appetizers, which are traditionally a Spanish cuisine. If you are feeling adventurous, BBC goodfood has some traditional tapas recipes like patatas bravas with chorizo (potatoes and sausage).

You could also put together a collection of more familiar appetizers by visiting Women’s Health Magazine for their tapas recipe collection. The great thing about tapas is that it is conducive to sharing, so it would also be the perfect dinner idea for double dates. 

Go with a grown-up crowd pleaser

Everyone loves pizza, right? This is why making pizza for your date is such a great idea. Not only will it go over well but it will also be something low key and less fussy than other traditional Italian options.

The best part about this date night idea is that you both can make pizza together. Nothing brings people closer than cooking together and if you both have great chemistry it could prove to be a lot of fun.

To keep your pizza night feeling more like a date night and less like a kid’s pizza party, leave the pepperoni at home and try the Food Network’s margherita pizza recipe. A margherita pizza is a more grown-up version of a cheese pizza, so both of you should love it. If you prefer something a little meatier, throw some ham or chicken on top before you stick it in the oven. Pair your pizza with a salad and you’ll have a well-rounded date night meal on your hands.

Standard date night fare with a twist

When you think of a traditional date night dinner, images of Lady and the Tramp sharing a plate of spaghetti probably come to mind. But traditional doesn’t have to mean boring.

If you want to go with pasta for your date night, try Taste of Home’s chicken pasta primavera. It is extremely filling but considerably less messy to eat than other kinds of pasta. If you don’t feel like making a pasta dish from scratch, you could also pick up a package of Buitoni’s four cheese ravioli in the freezer aisle at your nearest grocery store. All you’ll need is some boiling water and whatever kind of pasta sauce you prefer for an easy pasta dinner.

Start the night with something sweet

Dessert is the part of the date we all look forward to, so why not skip ahead to the dessert first? You could try making Chow’s Pecan salted caramel cheesecake or Just a Pinch’s chocolate vodka soaked strawberries for a different take on dessert.

If chocolate is your thing, try baking mint brownies for your date. Mint brownies can easily be made from a box of brownie mix or you can start from scratch. All you have to do is mix in some fresh mint with the ingredients and pair the treat with your favorite flavor of ice cream.

Foods to avoid at all costs

Dates are already nerve wrecking, especially if they are with someone new. The last thing you want to deal with on a date is something difficult to eat gracefully. Avoid anything messy like spaghetti, buffalo wings or ribs.

Try to also avoid things like spinach, poppy seeds or corn on the cob. It is always awkward to tell someone they have something stuck in their teeth so do your date a favor and don’t put them in that position

No one wants to worry about their breath offending their date or ruining a good night kiss, so avoid any foods that will leave you with dragon breath such as garlic, pungent cheeses or anything with raw onions on it.

A few things to remember

While cooking a homemade meal for your date is a great idea to set yourself apart from the competition, it isn’t advisable for a first date situation.

While your intentions might be innocent it might come off a little strong, like you are trying to fast track a relationship which might seem off-putting. A good time frame to invite your date over for dinner is a third or fourth date.

If you are serving drinks with your dinner, remember to take it easy on the wine. It is an easy mistake to drink too much on a date — especially if your heart is pounding and you have butterflies in your stomach.

No one wants to have to deal with a sloppy drunk on a date and you might risk doing or saying something you’ll regret later. It is best to stick to one to two drinks with dinner.