When you're single, you're on your own schedule for everything, including meals. But once you're married, it's harder to get away with eating a bowl of cereal, a frozen entree or a sandwich for dinner. Now is the time to make meals for two.
"Cooking offers a creative and nourishing outlet, is a stress reduction and builds memories that can only be established in the kitchen and at the dinner table," say Roxanne Wyss and Kathy Moore, authors of "The Newlywed Cookbook: Cooking Happily Ever After." They call the kitchen a "shared sanctuary" for spouses. "The kitchen, your cooking style, and the menu plans are yours, for they are created as a team, together."
Many modern couples identify as foodies. Dinner inspiration often comes from food websites, magazines and TV shows. Cookbooks such as "The Newlywed Cookbook" are popular with couples that want to roll up their sleeves and make dinner as a couple.
*Teamwork in the Kitchen
These days it's typical for both partners to work all day. The traditional idea that wives handle the cooking is gone.
"Today, both men and women cook and it is often approached as a team," say Wyss and Moore. "When these couples return home from a busy day, they enjoy cooking together as it offers time together and time to talk."
Wyss and Moore's book, which features 70 recipes including waffles, shrimp risotto and four-bean vegetarian chili, helps couples build their culinary skills. It's also geared so the spouses can use a variety of kitchen tools, including common wedding gifts they may have received, such as slow cookers and food processors.
The authors say the newlywed stage of marriage is a great time for building routines and developing habits that will sustain the couple long-term: "We feel that dinner together, at home, builds happy families and establishes important traditions," they say.
Couples develop a bond while cooking.
"I like to say that the family that cooks and eats together stays together," says nutrition health coach Liza Baker, author of the forthcoming book "Flip Your Kitchen."
Baker notes that "cooking from scratch at home" can positively affect the couple's health, the environment and the local economy, if the couple will be shopping at markets and farms near their home.
Cooking at home makes financial sense, too, since dining out can be pricey, especially when it's a regular occurrence. Plus, cooking together is a chance to try new things, such as kitchen tools and a variety of recipes.
*Dinner Made Easy
Many husbands and wives want to make dinner together but don't want lots of meal prep and planning. The solution: meal-kit-delivery brands, such as HelloFresh.
The company does the food shopping and ingredient measuring and delivers the ready-to-cook kit to your doorstep. All you have to do is cook the food according to the included recipes.
"Cooking together is one of the rare times that couples can have each other's undivided attention," says Rebecca Lewis, in-house registered dietitian at HelloFresh, explaining the delivery boxes make cooking "feel like less of a chore and more of a shared, social activity."
A classic HelloFresh box includes three meals for two people at a cost of $69; a Veggie Box is $59 for three meals for two people.
"Date nights in the kitchen can be a super romantic experience if you do it right," says relationship expert Elisabeth Davis, who reminds couples to laugh and have fun while tackling meal prep, cooking and cleanup. "It's when we start cooking together that we realize the amount of quality time spent together."
Davis offers these tips for creating memorable meals as a couple: Learn to make your partner's favorite dish and cook it together; compromise in the kitchen (take turns suggesting meals and choosing ingredients); spend time together making food that requires hands-on prep, such as pizza; and create your own weekly or monthly food traditions.