BOLD STATEMENT, TRUE STATEMENT!! Jobs, kids, homework, activities, community commitments, exercise….ADULTING IS HARD!!! Resolutions are swirling in everyone’s head this time of year and one of the top things on the list will be time, MORE TIME. The only way to achieve that resolution or desire is to be intentional with how we use just that, our time. With everything going on in the lives of the average couple, it’s easy to forget or forgo the small gestures that really keep a relationship running. However, little, intentional things can make your partner feel valued every day. Little, intentional things like cooking and sharing a meal together with minimal distraction is a great way to be intentional about our time and to connect during a busy week (life). After having our third child, Tim and I were really missing the relaxing, peaceful connection we once enjoyed over a nice dinner. At that time our kids were relatively young (6, 4 and 6 months) and dinner time was a bit more chaotic with sippy cups, high chairs and potential melt-downs for any given reason. I am strong believer that family meals are important, but so is showing our kids that we value our relationship as a couple. We decided to re-claim Friday nights as our “date night!”
I have always LOVED to cook and was so excited about the idea of making (gifting) something “special” for Tim on a weekly basis. This was the birth of Hot Date Dinner. Every Friday, I would cook and Tim would pick up a bottle of wine and no plans (on either of our parts) would be made for this night, it was ours! Seven and a half years later (with some flexibility in mind) we still look forward to it every week.
Let’s chat about the benefits of dining in vs out for a moment. The most obvious reason being cost savings. We all know that a night out is exciting, but it can also be very expensive. Don’t get me wrong, I could not be more excited about knowing we have a reservation on the books at one of the much anticipated spots or even somewhere off the radar here in the Twin Cities of MN….there are some chefs doing AMAZING things here. I so look forward to special occasions when Tim and I have a night out on the town, but those are a treat for us and we like to keep it that way. Living near a big city like we do also provides the opportunity to get really good, local ingredients for our hot date dinners and this can be all part of the fun. We love to frequent places together (when we can) like the farmers market (when in season), Coastal Seafoods and Valley Natural Foods for inspiration in creating a hot date dinner. Walking into one of these establishments and letting the season or a recommendation drive the menu for hot date dinner is all part of the experience for us.
When you cook at home you control what your partner (and family are eating), not someone else. Incorporating health goals can easily be part of your hot date dinners when you are in charge. There is so much research and evidence of the health benefits of incorporating plant based foods into our diets so choose items that are in season where you live for the best flavor and nutritional benefits. If you are unsure what is in season, ask!!
How about the life skill that is cooking? Do you like to cook? If not, why? “No time or it’s too intimidating or I just don’t like it,” are the most common answers I get when I ask this question. Most of the hot date dinners I cook and will share with you on this site are done in about 30 minutes or less. Yes, there are some that require longer cooking and I make them as time permits, but, truth be told, most are done as the kids are getting ready for bed. Start where you are comfortable, but do not underestimate yourself and do not be afraid to make mistakes….those mistakes are where we learn. I highly encourage you to do some research, there are tools for every level of cook out there. Consider one of the many resources for the home cook ..monthly magazine subscriptions (Bon Appetit, Taste of Home, or Paleo Magazine), cookbooks can be found everywhere or can be checked out from the library, FOOD BLOGS (Hot Date Dinner, for example), cooking shows and websites galore. Start slow and easy and enjoy the peacefulness of the process.
Hot Date Dinner is an easy, affordable way to be intentional with your time and to reconnect weekly with your partner. It is a way to regularly celebrate life, the good, the bad and and the ugly of it, remember you are in this TOGETHER!
The key to Hot Date Dinner is making the commitment to do it. When we started this, it was easy to proclaim Friday as our Hot Date Dinner night because the kids were not yet involved with activities and friends. Flexibility has become another key to making this work as we move through the seasons of life. Now it maybe an impromptu Tuesday night and/or Saturday night as those may be the nights with nothing marked out on the calendar. Do what works for you and your schedule.
You may be asking where are the kids while this is going on? They are either in bed or in a different part of the house, but make no mistake they love it as much as we do. For them it is a night to have take out or frozen dinners and a movie. Tim and I usually eat a little bit later, getting bed time routines done for the kids so we can have an uninterrupted meal. Now that they are a little bit older, they occasionally sneak in to see and try what we are eating, but they respect our time together.