Cooking for a date is one of the more romantic date options there is. Of course wining and dining is romantic in itself, but taking part in the process can add an entirely new level to the intimacy factor.

When you’re considering cooking on a date, either for or with the person, here are some things to keep in mind.

1. Make the Drinks First

If you’re cooking for your date the last thing you want to do is leave him or her empty handed during the process. Pour the wine or mix up the skinny margaritas to enjoy throughout the cooking process in addition to during the meal. This tends to up the fun factor regardless of how the food turns out. Might as well make it an experience either way.

2. Feel Free to Prep

Whipping a meal up from scratch can take a while. Sometimes longer than you’d like to actually spend cooking on a date. It’s totally fine to do the prep in advance before the date actually gets there to cut out some of that lag time. Prep might mean marinating meat, chopping vegetables, etc. Some of this prep stuff doesn’t take long and is better done in the moment, especially if there are other aspects of cooking that might be time-consuming.
Choosing quick and easy recipes is another way to cut down on prep overall.

3. Come Prepared With Backup Food

Unless your plan is to whip up something that you’ve successfully cooked 100 times, it’s a good idea to have some backup in case something goes wrong. Of course, you can always toss a burned quiche and call out for pizza, but you might as well be as prepared as possible. One way to up your odds of making a stellar meal is to cook a variety of small plate options instead of one larger item. That way if one thing doesn’t turn out there’s still plenty of other stuff to choose from. And in fact working with multiple easy dinner ideas is actually the best way to appeal to a picky eater… unless you know ahead of time exactly what they might want or not want.

4. Don’t Get Ahead of Yourself

It might be tempting to create your craziest dish in an effort to show off those cooking skills, but the last you want to do is cook something that’s not appealing to the average person. Keep in the middle lane as far as flair goes with the meal. Once you nail the first meal you can find out how experimental your date gets with food and then hopefully take it to the next level another time. Remember that the point of cooking for a date is not to show off, but rather to show that you can do something thoughtful and with intention. It takes a different type of effort to cook for someone than it does to take them out for dinner. When it’s done right it can make a huge impact on them and how they think of you.

5. Save the Dishes for Later

Don’t feel pressured to clean up instantly after you cook for a date since this can come off like you’re trying to wrap things up. However, when you are trying to end things as quickly as possible that’s certainly one way to pass along the vibe. Set the pans to soak as well as anything else that’s coated in food, but don’t bother with the simple stuff like the dishes. Focus on the date first and the cleanup after. Hint: if you forget to soak the pots and they end up coated in gunk, not to worry. One cleaning hack is to boil baking soda and water in those gunky pans, let it soak as it cools, and then watch how easily the dried food just rinses away.

6. Notice the Comfort Levels

When you’re cooking for a date that generally means that you’ve invited them into your home. It also means that the two of you are hanging out doing an everyday activity. Both of those things can potentially make a date awkward or absolutely amazing, which really comes down to the chemistry and connection that you have between you. It’s more like normal couple stuff than a lot of other date options. There’s nothing like taking part in a practical activity to highlight whether you could see yourself spending the day to day with someone. Or to highlight whether you’re instantly bored of them doing so.