Picture a scenario in which you have invited a date over to your house for dinner, maybe it was recently for Valentine’s Day or you just want to propose a cosier and more intimate Saturday night this week. Offering to cook might be a brave attempt to impress her and turn that ordinary evening into something extraordinary, but what happens if you lack the proper skills to do so? Even something seemingly simple like boiling rice or pasta can go terribly wrong in an instant – undercooking or overcooking can really ruin the base of the dish you have so carefully thought about. Something essential to keep in mind is as straightforward as reading the instructions on the pack and following the timing rigorously. It might seem obvious to some, but not everybody does this properly.

Preparing something that is relatively easy but still delicious and healthy is also important (not only for dates but also for your daily routine). After you have chosen a recipe, head out to the store and make sure to buy fresh and seasonal ingredients. If you have indeed decided to make pasta, it is absolutely crucial to prepare the right sauce as this can really make a difference to your meal (avoid all cans and pre-made options). If you are more of a meat or fish person, the perfect addition can be mixed baked vegetables and sweet potatoes – just place everything on a baking sheet with extra virgin olive oil, salt and rosemary and you are good to go. Another side option can be a basic salad with a more elaborate dressing, maybe even with something like ginger or lemon to give it a stronger, more decisive flavour. Always have spices in your pantry, as seasoning will make the task of cooking well a little bit easier overall.

They say cooking is a form of art, so for beginners the number one rule should be to remember to keep it tasty but simple: opt for soup, tomato and basil pasta, a roasted chicken or grilled fish fillets. Always make sure to have a good side dish as well so that your date doesn’t go hungry. Cutting the ingredients properly is also important, so try to do everything with patience and care. If you are brave enough to attempt dessert make sure to follow a recipe step by step and maybe pick a classic such as chocolate cake, apple tart or even tiramisù (you can never go wrong with any of these). Otherwise, you can always cheat and buy her favourite sorbet or ice cream. If you can, discreetly find out beforehand what she likes best and what her favourite dishes are, it will definitely give you a competitive advantage and possibly even determine the overall success of the meal. Women (of course, some men too) can be very picky with food and like most things in life, make sure you have done your research first.

While you cook, trust your instincts and try out what you are making along the way – it’s important to keep track of the progress and add final touches if necessary. Once she arrives, use your favourite bottle opener for that special wine you have been saving for a unique moment together. If you have the knowledge to do so and to impress her even more, choose a bottle that will complement your recipe and enhance its flavour. Afterwards, sip your favourite drink in sophisticated cocktail glasses and celebrate the success of a home cooked meal, hopefully the first of many more.