The Cooking Engineer

There is little as humorous as watching an engineer attempt to cook a meal without a fully detailed plan outlining when to add which ingredients to which pot or pan, at what setting, and for how long.

You’re probably thinking that this should be easy for an engineer! After all, he’s been trained to run multimillion dollar projects, occasionally bringing them off without a major hitch. What’s so hard about making a meal?

Well for real men – you know, the non-engineers, the kind who come from Mars – with male brains (and 20% of each gender has the opposite gender’s brain), cooking a meal where everything comes out together so that it can all be put on the table hot at the same time seems like it might require black magic, or at least seems to prove that those who can do it should be burned at the stake!

Let’s face it, cooking a complex meal is hard! Most single engineers either eat in restaurants (if they have a good income), or in fast food joints otherwise.

So why is cooking even harder for the average engineer than for the typical male? The answer is simple, yet completely stunning to your engineer.


Your engineer assumes that, since he can run complex projects, he should easily be able to cook a meal. He conveniently ignores that he has spent years training to run projects, but has almost no training on meal preparation (other than anything cooked on a barbecue – he is male after all!) This is the same problem that leads your engineer to assume he can assemble anything from Ikea without ever opening the instruction booklet!

So, if he’s cooking, be prepared to eat your meal in 7 courses! It wasn’t supposed to be any more than 2, but… hopefully at least 2 of the menu items arrive in edible condition!

Anything your engineer does at work requires a written plan. Cooking at home is just as complex. An engineer in front of a stove without a fully written, completely detailed  step by step plan for cooking the meal is a disaster in the making.

If he hasn’t figured it out just yet, then know that he’s assuming that all the previous disasters were the result of random chance, rather than as a result on any failure on his part. How do you cure him of this self-serving illusion?

First, you hook him with the opportunity to show off how brilliant he is. Ask him to analyze the following scenario…

Both of you start off to prepare a meal with virtually the same physical conditions – kitchen implements, stove, food ingredients, etc. The only difference has to be in the method used to convert these physical conditions into a meal.

What would the odds be that you both prepare a meal using the same method, given that every meal he prepares ends up in disaster, while you do in excess of 400 meals a year with few, if any, mishaps.

He might grudgingly admit that you have a point. Ask him if he would like to know the method. He wants to make you happy, so the answer will be a very quickYes“!  Have him write down the steps you go through in planning a meal.

About halfway through, he’ll recognize that he’s writing a project plan, one with several “recipes” included within it. Get all excited, give him a kiss and proclaim proudly that you “just knew it would make sense to him once you showed him.”

Now help him to write out four or five project plans, or as many as you need to have given how often you might want him to prepare a meal. You don’t want the exact same meal every 2 weeks or that might become a bit boring! No, he WILL NOT deviate from a working project plan, so don’t suggest switching even one vegetable serving without putting the new plan down in writing!

As always, you should be grateful for your engineer. Every one of your friends wonders whether disaster awaits whenever their husband cooks. You don’t have their problem, now do you?

Finally, be thankful that you didn’t marry an accountant. No matter how bad it might be, your engineer at least has a sense of humor. Smile, and enjoy another day full of wonder.

You are welcome!