While three-quarters of professional chefs are male, that dominance doesn't extend to husbands who serve as chefs for the family. Men prepare only 18 percent of evening meals at home, the research company NPD Group found. If you are not yet among the treasured category of husbands who can plan and prepare a gourmet multi-course meal without help, get started in the kitchen with easy meals that can earn just as much gratitude and affection from the family.
As with men in general, husbands may fall into the "no recipe" movement gaining steam. Most guys prefer to wing it rather than follow a recipe, notes New Orleans restaurateur and "Iron Chef" challenger John Besh. Along the same lines, Marc Matsumuto launched his website NoRecipes.com based on the concept that men prefer technique and inspiration over rigidly following a recipe line by line, item by item. So focus on learning techniques to the ingredients at hand if you plan to make an easy meal the guy way. Grill, bake, steam, stir-fry, or make a soup or sandwich depending on your preferences.
If you have never made a meal before, you'll want to start with a super-easy meal, such as grilled cheese sandwiches. Or try making breakfast to keep the meal truly basic. Pancakes, oatmeal with sliced fruit, French toast or scrambled eggs with a side of grilled bacon and juice can start getting you acquainted with mixing bowls, whisks and the griddle.
It may sound almost too easy to work on burgers next, but these meat patties provide lots of opportunity to master technique and show your creativity as part of an easy meal. Even celebrity chefs recommend burgers, plain or fancy, for family fare. Fire up the grill and sear regular beef burgers, flavored with Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper and served on kaiser buns to get started, recommend cookbook authors Jamie and Bobbie Deen, sons of celebrity chef Paula Deen. Make the burgers more of an event by adding sliced tomatoes, sliced avocado, thin-sliced red onions, grilled onions, cheddar cheese or grilled Portobello mushroom caps. Try grilling frozen French fries at the same time, sprinkled with Cajun seasoning. Celebrity Rachel Ray offers a different slant: turkey burgers served with horseradish and cheddar cheese. Mix the ground turkey with chopped scallions, pieces of cheese and grill seasoning, and serve the cooked burgers on buns with spread with mustard on the bottom, cranberry sauce on the top and romaine on top of the patty, with chips on the side.
Stick with the outdoor or tabletop grill you use for burgers to branch out into simple meals centered around grilled steak, pork chops or chicken. Branch out to provide a starch such as sweet potato wedges or rice made with a pinch of turmeric or saffron to add bright color, a vegetable such as steamed broccoli or asparagus or a salad, and a simple dessert, such as chocolate pudding. Learn to gauge how big a teaspoon of salt looks in your hand and how to mix oil and vinegar to flavor homemade vinaigrette dressing so you can whip up a meal in no time the kitchen.