Who Does the Cooking In Your Home? The Results May Surprise You

Who does the bulk of the cooking in your home, and how did you decide?

Recently, I asked this question to my Twitter followers (follow me!), and I was stunned to find that in about 80% of cases women still do the vast majority of the cooking at home.

Admittedly, this was an anecdotal sample. But it turns out that most of the respondents found themselves in one of two situations: either the female partner simply enjoyed doing the cooking more (or in some cases she hated it less), or the female partner had more abilities in the kitchen when the relationship began (which says a lot about the value of feigned incompetence).

It appears as if dividing cooking responsibilities along gender lines is a more comfortable and productive arrangement for both parties.

Here at Casual Kitchen, however, I do almost all of the cooking. I suspected it was an atypical arrangement, but I never guessed it was that atypical.

And to my female readers: I wouldn't read this gender-based division of kitchen labor as proof that feminism failed. In fact, from what I've seen, men are involved in the kitchen more than ever, even if they don't prepare the majority of household meals. In quite a few cases, for example, men shared in the cooking, took responsibility for weekend meals, or were willing to take on the dreaded kitchen clean-up duties.

Phew. I don't think we're heading back to the 1700's just yet.

So, readers, here's your chance to hold forth: Who does the cooking in your home, and how did you and your significant other decide?

Related Posts:
When Do You Throw Out Food?
A Reader Asks For Help
Reader Questions and Answers on Raw Foods and My Raw Food Trial
Ask Casual Kitchen: Advice for a New Blogger

How can I support Casual Kitchen?
If you enjoy reading Casual Kitchen, tell a friend and spread the word! You can also support me by purchasing items from Amazon.com via links on this site, or by linking to me or subscribing to my RSS feed. Finally, you can consider submitting this article, or any other article you particularly enjoyed here, to bookmarking sites like del.icio.us, digg or stumbleupon. Thank you for your support!


amberwitch said...

Depending on the dish, and whose company is coming over:-)
My husband makes pizza, and I make lasagna. I make pigs hearts, he makes meatballs. I peel the potatoes, he mashes them.
I think the cooking and cleaning is pretty much divided 50/50, but not in a way where we have designated cooking days. It is more a matter of different responsibilities, what is planned, and who has the time.
It works pretty well insofar as we get home cooked food on the table everyday, and we both like it:-)

wosnes said...

When I was married I did the cooking. It was both a matter of me being home earlier and the fact that I was the better cook. There was a time when I worked evenings and I never cooked in advance for the family. My now-ex cooked dinner for our children and himself.

Unknown said...

I felt like I had to reply to this one - it is right there in the name of my blog... :)

I plan and cook dinner. My wife, to keep her cooking skills intact, bakes and makes breakfast and lunch for the kids.

We do it this way because I insisted. Once the cooking bug bit me, I grabbed the wheel and never looked back. Before that, I did some of the cooking; probably a 60/40 split her/me. (But for the last ten years, it's been 98% me for dinner.)

I've noticed the same 80/20 split in cooking gender. Recently, I've been doing cooking demos at my local Farmers market. A husband and wife will stop at my booth, the wife will see the name of my blog, and say "Dad Cooks Dinner...what a great idea..." and look hard at her husband. The husband will suddenly be very interested in something on the opposite side of the market, and start inching away...

(Of course, I think I get a large chunk of the 20% of cooking guys at my blog. My readership is split 50/50, from what I can tell. Probably due to all the grilling recipes I post.)

Ros said...

I do (I'm a woman). I also do all the grocery shopping, and the dishes. This is partially due to enjoying it more (or hating it less, when it comes to standard weeknight cooking), and partially due to being better at it (and, regarding the dishes, absolutely due to it being easier to just do them in 5 mins than it is to harass him into doing them, which typically takes 3 days.)

And then I put my foot down about the rest of the cleaning, so the arrangement we've come to is that the amount of time I spend cooking/cleaning has to be equal to the amount he's spending on other things... which, in practical terms, means that I don't clean the bathroom, tidy things, do laundry or ironing, clean floors, or deal with the litterbox.

Overall, I'm pretty ok with this bargain, given that we're both shouldering half the workload.

Diana said...

We operate on different schedules, so breakfast and lunch tend to be do-it-yourself affairs from leftovers and simple foods (like cereal or sandwiches). Dinner is the only joint cooking operation and about 4/5 of the time, I'm in charge.

Cooking helps me unwind. My husband (who doesn't work outside the home) does nearly all the cleaning and dishes and about half of the laundry (depending on how busy I get). But cooking a meal from scratch just makes me happy.

He'll whip up a quick stir fry from time to time, but I'm the main chef. Also, I'm a vegetarian, so sometimes he'll cook a little meat to add to whatever I've made. He also usually makes the rice (rice makers make this so easy, though, so I don't know if that counts).

I really think feminism is about empowering individuals to make choices about job/labor divisions not based on gender, but on preferences and talent. In this way, we have a feminist marriage, even though I still do much of the cooking.

Nicole Hannah said...

Wow, has the answer to this question changed during the course of my relationship!

When we met 12 years ago, my husband cooked. He had the skills and the income to buy good food (I was just finishing university, he was older than me and working in his field).

When we married 9 years ago, we would shopp together and we split the cooking duties pretty evenly. And whoever cooked, the other cleaned up.

And then we had a baby. And I stayed home, so I did the shopping, but we still split the cooking/cleanup.

And the baby became a toddler, and did I ever need a break by the time Dad got home. So he would play with the kiddo, and I would escape to the kitchen to cook. Husband would clean up and I would do the bath/bed routine (which also worked better for my husband to do his marking and class prep in the evening [he's a teacher].

Now I don't need the break from the kid so much, but I follow a meal plan pretty strictly which restricts my husband somewhat if he wants to cook. So I think we'll be switching it up a little in the future but I'm not sure yet which direction that will go.

As for baking (different from cooking), my toddler and I have complete control of the kitchenaid 8).

Claire said...

"It appears as if dividing cooking responsibilities along gender lines is a more comfortable and productive arrangement for both parties."

Or maybe just that the male half of the partnership refuses to participate, no matter how many times he's asked.

Marcia said...

I don't do twitter.

Anyway. I do the vast majority of the cooking in our household. But it wasn't always that way.

I didn't cook much at all for a very long time. I have a mom and 5 older sisters. I never had to cook, or learn to cook. In college, it was boxed mac and cheese or ramen or the cafeteria.

In the Navy, it was a lot of eating out, and a few items that I would try to make. But I usually cut or burned myself in the kitchen.

I met my hubby in 1992, so for about two years of dating life, he did all the cooking. We were apart for two years, and then when I joined him, he still did all the cooking. For the first 9 years of our relationship, except for the times we were apart, he did all the cooking.

But we got fat on his cooking. So I started losing weight, and quickly realized that the easiest way to do that is to cook, so I know what's in the food. That was in 2002, and I've done 99% of the cooking since. When I was pregnant he did some. After we had the baby, especially, I was working a schedule that got me home at 4 or 4:30 pm, so it was easier for me.

I cook by the seat of my pants, he cooks with a recipe, so now it's pretty hard for him to cook - he doesn't know what's in the house. If I'm not going to be home for dinner, I leave instructions. He's pretty much the grilled cheese and pancake expert though.

Anyway, in a nutshell: I cook because I like it, it's healthier, and now that we are parents, we shift our schedules, and I get home an hour earlier.

Ivy said...

I'm single so....me! :) If I don't do it, it doesn't get done. (Which also explains why sometimes toast seems like a perfectly reasonable dinner.)

What's interesting to me is that I've noticed a shift in my parents. Growing up, mom always cooked. Always. But I talk on the phone to them, and suddenly my dad has discovered the farmer's market and is cooking a few times a week. Now, mom still cooks a lot, because she likes to. But it's definitely more divided now than I ever remember it being.

Melissa said...

I don't find this surprising at all. I don't know ANY men (offline friends) that cook. And I know a whole lot of guys. Sad.

Liz T. said...

In my first marriage, I started out cooking because my ex was active duty military and wasn't home much. But something happened at the 15 year point - he said he wanted to try. Sure! Turns out he is an excellent intuitive cook, much better than I was. So he cooked for the next 10 years. I was the baker.

When we split, I had to cook for myself and my son and it was hella tough getting back into it. But over the past three years I've gotten more interested in nutrition and eating whole foods (mostly vegetarian) and now I'm actually pretty good at it.

Now I'm remarried and I do most of the cooking primarily because I am so much faster than my husband. He's pretty good but he takes FOREVER! :)

Diane said...

Well, it's just me - so I cook, and I'm a woman. But even when I had a partner, or when my parents come and stay for several months every winter I still cook. It is relaxing for me - even when working 60 hour weeks - and I rely on it as a change of pace from my regular job. Plus, as a strong feminist I do not think there is anything wrong with choosing to be a good home-maker. Taking good care of one's environment and nourishing others should be honored.

bashtree said...

When I was working and my husband was in school, he did most of the cooking, and I use the term loosely because a lot of his 'cooking' was boiling pasta, opening a jar of sauce, and nuking some frozen vegetables. It was more like heating up packaged food. But at least I didn't have to think about it! When I wouldn't be able to handle one more night of ravioli, I would make something. Now that he's working full time and I work part time, I do most of the cooking. Sometimes he will take over dinner prep, but he has begun to progress from hamburger helper to looking at what we have on hand and coming up with a pretty decent meal. He's learning the benefit of 'real food' I think. It's been really cool to witness the progression. He still has the palate of a field mouse and won't exert much effort beyond his tastes, but I'm also making a lot more home-made options available for him to assemble, so we can both be happy.

edj3 said...

He cooks. Then again, he's unemployed right now. When I was unemployed, and he worked, I cooked. When the happy day occurs and we are both working full time, we'll sort it out again. He'll probably still have to cook more since my commute is 130 miles a day.

Anonymous said...

My husband and I share the cooking duties; we're both sufficiently confident in the kitchen to switch off according to whoever has more free time/energy that night. I do the meal planning by myself, but either one of us might do the shopping, or we might go together. And we both do the dishes, whenever one of us remembers that some dishes need doing. It's pretty great.


beth said...

I do 99% of the cooking in the house, although we leave the teenagers to fend for themselves more often these days. My husband will offer to cook occasionally, but his idea of dinner is grilled burger patties with cheese. If I want anything that resembles a vegetable or something other than a plate of meat, it's up to me.

The Diva on a Diet said...

I'm fascinated by the results of your twitter poll - and perhaps not all that surprised.

I do the vast majority of the cooking and cleaning in the Diva household - but that's a function of necessity rather than design. My husband is actually a wonderful cook and greatly enjoys flexing his culinary muscles! But he also works more than 70 - 80 hours in a typical week and I'm not willing to wait around until 10pm for dinner.

My hours are more flexible and I mostly work at home, so I'm happy to shop, cook and clean, especially during the week.

On weekends, when he's not working, we enjoying shopping and cooking together. We both have a passion for food and have fun sharing the kitchen. I love that. :)

I will say that he is the Chief Egg Chef as well. He's in charge of weekend breakfasts ... because he does a better job. I swear, he makes the best scrambled eggs on earth and I simply can't compete!

Lastly, we did have a brief role reversal when he was in law school and I was the only one working full time. He was the cook then and was happy to do it.

As always, fantastic, provocative topic, Dan!

Amy @ Seven Grey Sweaters said...

When I first got married, I did all the cooking, because that's what my mom did. Over time, I discovered that my husband is pretty handy in the kitchen, and we started cooking together.

Ten years later, he does at least 50% of the cooking, sometimes more. We menu plan and visit the farmers market together on the weekend.

We know only a few other men who cook (not counting BBQ). If we bring a dish to someone's house, they usually thank me for it, and get really surprised when I tell them my husband made it.

chacha1 said...

I got conned. :-) When we were courting, DH did a lot of the cooking. Maybe even most of it. Stuff like spaghetti squash with margherita sauce. I had vestigial kitchen skills.

After a couple of years of marriage, I found myself doing 98% of the food prep, including grocery shopping. And that's the way it's stayed. He has very recently begun hitting the farmer's market so I don't have to do two shopping trips every week.

I do almost all the housework, too. But he does the laundry, which I hate (we're apartment dwellers with shared facilities), so that counts for a good bit.

We both work full-time but DH is self-employed, so his "full-time" includes a big chunk of most Saturdays, and sometimes a bit of Sundays as well. Looking forward to being debt-free so he can work a little less. At which point I want to get his a** back in the kitchen!

Lo said...

Cooking at our house is a bonding affair -- with both of us pitching in to do the work of things. It's our time to chat, share a glass of wine, and de-stress from our day.

Every now and again we switch off and let the other go solo, but most of the time we enter into the engagement together. In fact, it's become so much a part of my life to have someone cooking with me that I don't enjoy cooking alone quite as much as I used to.

StalkingSarah said...

Women do all the cooking in our house... but our house is all women! My girlfriend and I take turns prepping meals-- we agree on things together, informally, and whoever gets home from work first gets the meal started. If we're both home, we do it together.

LLK said...

Ours has changed over the years. Until a couple years ago, my husband did 85% of the cooking. He enjoys it (I did not), he is a natural, instinct-lead cook (I'm a detailed recipe follower). We had kids, I transitioned to a SAHM... and having him cook no longer made sense from a time perspective (how could dinner be on the table at 6pm when he just walked in the door at 5:45??). So I've been learning to cook, and I'm even starting to enjoy it. I'll always be a recipe follower (it's my nature), but I'm happy to see that with experience, I am developing a few cooking instincts.
He still cooks - especially on weekends when he has time to get into something he's got a hankering for. But I do most of the weeknight cooking.
So long story short - we've become the 50's stereotype. :)

Unknown said...

My husband and I both like to cook, but my work schedule is less demanding so I do the majority of the shopping/cooking. He tends to cook more on the weekends when he has more free time.

Rich and Col said...

I feel lucky that we both enjoy cooking, and it's never a chore. We're so much in sync that on the odd day that whoever was going to cook doesn't feel like it, the other one finds the energy to prepare our main (usually evening) meal, and well. It wasn't always like that, however, as when our children were young, I seem to remember that Colleen did the majority of the cooking - I don't know whether it was realising the unfair-ness of this situation, or slowly picking up her exquisite cooking skills that things changed to such an extent that I cook probably 5 days out of 7. The other little ritual we have is that we don't share the cooking - whoever's cooking does absolutely everything, taking pleasure in serving what is hopefully a delicious meal while the other person gets to relax.

Hope you're well, Dan.

Nathalie said...

Ahh, the only subject of fighting in my relationship in the 3 years we have been living together, other than money issues.

I do almost all the cooking and all the food shopping. Occasionally my boyfriend will cook a weekend breakfast of eggs and bacon, or a 'manly' meal like burgers or steak subs. If I plan with him in advance what days I can't get the dinner on the table in a timely manner (like if I have class until 8pm), he will cook about 1 dinner per week, but it takes a lot of coaxing and reminding.

This is our arrangement mostly because I love to cook, but also because I'm good at it, I know how to cook healthy from scratch and how to stick to a budget. He does ok in the kitchen but doesn't have much interest in cooking. He cooks mostly very heavy and expensive meals from processed foods (he's addicted to cheese and meat and cream sauces, and never prepares vegetables), and he never sticks to a grocery list (side story: he was a compulsive spender when we met, and use to buy computers or game consoles on a whim when he felt blue. I'm the kind of girl that budgets every dime since I was twelve). He also takes forever in the kitchen, because of lack of practise, lack of knowledge or because we watches Tv at the same time and cooks during the breaks :) Recently he has expressed an interest in learning how to cook, so we'll see how that goes.

The other chores are a sore subject between us though. I never mind cooking but I would prefer an overall 50/50 division of all the tasks. His thinking is a bit different. He has a full-time job in his field (computer science) and I'm finishing my B. Sc. in biology, and headed towards a master's). He thinks since I'm at home more I should do more chores, since 'I have the time' to do them. He doesn't take into consideration the hours I spend studying and reading at home, which amount to much more time than classroom hours. He never really studied (he's mostly self-thought through experiences) so in his mind more time at home = more free times. He'll do what he thinks is a fair amount of chores for him to do, and refuse to do an inch more. So right now I'd say it's maybe 30/70 him/me for the chores, and I do all the food related stuff on top of that. Only if I'd work longer hours than him at a job would he maybe consider doing more chores. We still have to figure this one out before we buy a house and have kids :)

Anonymous said...

Wonderhubby makes a great omelet, a fine cheeseburger and a reportedly great grilled cheese sandwich. Also, he taught me to make cheesecake. Given that I hoped for a life that included dishes without cheese (you know, every once in a while :O)) and that my kitchen skills were either more robust or I was more imposing (this one sounds right), within five years of marriage we struck a new deal: I'd stop working outside the home (I was then a PR and business writer) and focus on growing and preparing healthy foods. This choice has gifted us with a beautifully laid-back, far more healthful lifestyle. We eat out fewer than ten times a year. And yes, sometimes I do need a break, at which point, I'll pull out a cookbook, select a recipe, write up a menu plan and ask him to cook. He does know his way around the kitchen. I'm just a lot faster with a knife.

Janet C. said...

Actually, we pretty much share the cooking/cleanup duties 50/50 (and because I'm a messy cook, we have a rule that he/she who cooks also cleans up their mess!) Jerry travels a lot during the week, but I'll still cook for myself (usually a big pot of something that I eat for several days). Of course, Jerry's cooking repretoire is limited to Indian food, omelettes and frittatas, so that's what he cooks...at least twice a week (fortunately everything he makes is delicious and healthy!). He would cook more often if I let him, but sometimes I feel like something else..:-)

The exception to the 50/50 rule, interestingly enough, is any holiday meal. I think he uses the excuse that he "doesn't know how to cook" turkey a little too much (how hard is it to roast a turkey?) But since I love that sort of thing, and LOVE baking pies, I take over the kitchen for such occasioins....

Jenna said...

When we have time to play in the kitchen, my husband and I do enjoy cooking together.

But for the day to day, get the meals on the table, lunches packed, and breakfasts more than cereal?

I'd say about 99% of that type of cooking is all me.

Not complaining though - I don't have to wash the dishes!

Anonymous said...

I (female) do most of the cooking. My male partner likes to cook, and is rather good at it (and in fact pretty much *taught* me how to cook, although now he concedes that I'm better at it than he is *laughs*), but it mostly boils down to me having more time to do so. I work 35 hours a week and have a ~20 minute commute. He works 40 hours, and it takes him about an hour to get home. So most nights I have time to relax for a bit and get dinner started (if not entirely finished), by the time he gets home.

Marcia said...

Nathalie, that is definitely something you'll need to work out before you get married, for sure.

I always like Amy Dacyczyn's take on household duty splits: Each person's total # of hours at work and at home have to be equal.

If person A works 45 hours a week, and person B is in school 30 hours a week but studies 20 hours a week...

then at home, if person A puts in 10 hours for a total of 60, person B needs to put in 15.

Pretty much how it works in our house, though we never negotiated it. When one of us is giving our son a bath, the other one is doing the dishes. Hubby is still at work while I cook dinner, but I'm at work when he does the morning dishes.

Unknown said...

I'm definitely unusual. I was raised with my dad cooking pretty much everything -- he learned to cook from my mom, but he always got hungrier long before my mom did, so when he wanted dinner, he cooked it; and it became tradition. He always got up earlier on the weekends, so he'd make pancakes or something. So for the longest time I thought it was strange that in other families the mom cooked!

Now my wife and I almost always cook together. It's roughly a 50/50 split, but over time we've specialized a bit -- I've taken over all the chopping work, and she does more of the sauteing. She handles all the meat (because I won't touch raw meat). She does all the bechamel sauces; I do more of the tomato and stir fry sauces. Other than that, it is whoever is free when a task needs to be done. We do all the meal planning and shopping together, too. We both enjoy it overall -- in the end I'm a bit more of the foodie, but we both like to experiment and try out new things.

Brittany said...

Great discussion!

When my boyfriend lived here while he got on his feet after a move, I did nearly all the cooking (only exception was if I was completely exhausted to the point of being useless or if he wanted a giant slab of meat and I didn't), but he did all of the dishes (sort of). Even now that we live separately, I still do all the cooking when we eat together.

I have a new roommate, and I still do all the cooking (and she does the dishes). Noticing a pattern? Forget feminism/post-feminism/whatever. I love to cook. I hate dishes. It works.

Interestingly, my roommate generally maintains that I am the "man" and she is the "woman" in our domestic life--I cook, put things together, and kill all the bugs. She cleans, does dishes, and hems and mends my clothes. Ah, domestic bliss!

Carol Cripps said...

I grew up in a household where Dad cooked breakfast on Sunday mornings - he made great omelettes, despite never having tasted one before he met Mum, and he took care of the cave-man cooking - the barbeque. Mum did everything else, from changing nappies to doing the dishes and dusting. I live on my own, and so do all my own cooking, but my brothers are good cooks and more than the equal of any woman they've shared a roof with, save Mum and me. They do the greatest share of cooking in their homes.



Chibigodzilla said...

With the exception of some baking, I do the cooking. I basically kicked the wife-elect out of the kitchen partially because she didn't really enjoy the cooking and the end result suffered from that and partially because our kitchen had a maximum occupancy of about .9 people.