Men Who Cook

Six steps to help get your guy into the kitchen - and to love it.

By Elaine Magee, RD, MPH
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic- Expert Column

Reviewed By Louise Chang, MD

Most women love the idea of a guy in the kitchen, whether the guy in question is their 13-year-old son or their husband of 13 years. There are a few women out there who are inclined to be territorial about their kitchen kingdoms, but my guess is they're the exception. In general, we love it when men cook.

After all, how would you like to come home from picking up the kids or yoga class to find your guy flipping quesadillas or stirring up a stir-fry for the family? On a lazy weekend morning, wouldn't it be heaven to wake up to the aroma of buttermilk waffles browning and turkey bacon sizzling in the skillet? And on a harried weeknight, isn't it a relief when your husband or son can whip himself up something without your help?

So what can wives, mothers, and girlfriends do to encourage men to cook more often? Here are six simple steps to not only help get your guy into the kitchen, but to love it!

Step 1: Encourage Your Man to Cook What He Wants to Eat

It's been my experience that what most men want to eat usually doesn't start with the word "petite" or end with the word "salad." Lesley Stiles, a Northern California chef, believes that if men get to cook what they want to eat, they are much more likely to spend time in the kitchen.

"Ask a fella if he wants to barbeque some steak or make a nice chicken salad -- you get my drift," says Stiles.

What's it going to hurt to let your guy decide what's for dinner on the days he reports for KP duty? So you might be eating beef more often than you would like. Balance it out by making fish and vegetarian entrees when it's your turn to cook.

For some reason, my husband pines for pork chops (not one of my personal favorites). So in the spirit of Step 1, I'm including an easy and light pork chop recipe below.

Step 2: Set Him Up for Success, Then Let Him Do It His Way

Guide your guy toward appliances that are simple to use, like rice cookers, George Foreman grills, and slow cookers. And when you're armed with a good nonstick frying pan or skillet and a can of canola cooking spray, most food items will not stick. You can also direct your guy to certain recipes or cookbooks that are easy to use.

Aside from perhaps some gentle nudging, you need to just step back and let him do it his way. After all, getting creative and making your own decisions in the kitchen is half the fun!

Step 3: Remember, Positive Reinforcement Works!

By golly, if your guy spends some time in the kitchen cooking for himself or others, he deserves some praise. Give him an "A" for effort, no matter what the result. Find something positive to say about the meal or dish he spent time preparing. If he feels his time and effort were appreciated, he'll be more likely to step into the kitchen limelight again soon.

Step 4: Offer to Do the Dishes

Have I mentioned how doing dishes is my least favorite part of cooking? I know I'm not alone. And my fancy stainless steel Miele dishwasher doesn't make it any more fun. If someone else does the dishes after I've slaved over a hot stove, I'm a happy camper.

I try to live by the "treat others as you would like to be treated" motto. And that means doing the dishes if someone else was kind enough to cook.

Step 5: If He's Really a Novice, Review Basic Kitchen Safety

Every cook, man or woman, can benefit from these basic safety tips:

  • Have a small fire extinguisher and a first aid kit close to the kitchen. Make sure everyone knows where they are and what to do with them.
  • Make sure all kitchen towels and hot pads (and anything else that can catch fire) are far away from the cooking area at all times.
  • Don't reach over the stovetop when the heat is on. Watch that your shirtsleeves don't get too close to the heat.
  • When using a knife, stay focused on the task at hand. Always cut away from yourself, and choose the correct knife. Use the small paring knife for peeling and small cutting jobs. The serrated knife is for bread and for soft vegetables, like eggplant and tomato. The large chef's knife works best for chopping.
  • When opening the lid of a hot dish or pot -- even for a microwave dish -- open it away from you and let the steam subside before looking in.
  • Be very careful when working with hot oil. When water or foods with a high water content are added to hot oil, the oil tends to splatter out of the pan.
  • Make sure the handles of your pots and pans are toward the back or side of the stove, not in the way of passersby.

Step 6: Review Basic Food Safety

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