By Mollie Colon, Michael French, and Cassie Hitchcock 

We all have many different relationships in our lives and you can compare cooking with another person to those relationships. Both take time, patience, and cooperation. And, if done correctly, you will have an enjoyable result.  We want to spend time with the people we care about even when we are busy.  You may not think of being in the kitchen as a way to spend quality time with someone but it can be a fun and interactive activity.  Whether you are cooking with a companion, family member, or friend we would like to share some ideas of how to use food to strengthen those relationships.


Cooperative Cooking

Cooking with a companion (boyfriend, girlfriend, roommate, or caregiver) is a great opportunity to build a relationship.  Circles magazine contributor, Michael French shares how a caregiver has taken the time to teach him and his roommate to cook. Michael says “Cooking together has helped build trust and a bond that has allowed me to feel more comfortable with my staff. We cook together one day a week and I like tasting the new recipes we try, but I don’t really like having to watch the stove.”

Cooking with others is a good way to improve relationship skills. Since everybody has different tastes, planning a menu with someone else can improve your ability to compromise. After agreeing on a menu, you can shop for ingredients together, helping perfect your cooperation skills by splitting up the grocery list. You can continue to use these skills while cooking the meal. If you plan the activity well, and each person chooses what they will be responsible for, your time in the kitchen can be very rewarding. Besides improving your relationship skills, you will also be spending quality time with someone you care about.  You can catch up on what has been going on in your lives and learn each other’s likes and dislikes.  You may even learn a few things about yourself that you didn’t know.


Kids in the Kitchen

Cooking is a great way to spend time with the children in our lives. Whether it is a younger brother or sister, a special niece or nephew, or your own child, having help preparing a meal is a great opportunity to have quality time with little ones. It can get messy at times but the benefits are worth it. And messy can be fun, especially to a child!

Teaching a child to cook nurtures their psychological and emotional growth. Cooking helps build their self-esteem, develop their creativity, and most importantly, strengthens family bonds. Cooking is a wonderful learning tool as well. It teaches math, language, organizational skills, and science. It will also teach them planning, decision-making, and the importance of teamwork. Teaching a child to cook will create memories that last a lifetime. Just ask Circles contributor, Cassie Hitchcock, who started cooking with her grandmother when she was five. Cassie tells us that having her grandmother teach her to cook helped bring them closer together, and they are still close today. She especially enjoys the one on one time that cooking gives her with her grandmother and says that cooking reminds her of when she was young.

Friends and Family

So you want to get together with a group of friends or family? What’s the first thing you usually do? Many people consider a restaurant or fast food joint and, while that might seem like the easiest solution, it is not necessarily the best. Restaurants can be noisy, crowded and let’s face it, expensive! A new trend has been developing recently with the formation of cooking clubs that focus on sharing the cooking experience with family and friends. It only takes a little planning and it has many benefits. The biggest one being that it will give you and your group more quality time together. It also provides the chance to try new recipes. You can take turns hosting the event and choosing the menu. You can even share the shopping duties and expenses. It is a totally different experience than eating in a restaurant, as you are not at the mercy of their time frame for your meal.

There are a wide variety of reasons to spend time cooking with those you care about.  Whatever your reason is, you will find that there are many benefits to be gained by turning cooking into a fun activity.