Have a Great Valentine’s Day without Breaking Your Budget
Valentine’s Day is that one day of the year where you are expected to be romantic – and that’s really an OK thing. However, if you look around town at the specials listed for upscale restaurants and bouquets of roses, it’s easy to feel intimidated by the high prices. Thankfully, it doesn’t take a large budget to have a romantic Valentine’s Day, but it does require that you think outside the box a bit and do some things on your own. By simply planning a wonderful homemade meal and organizing some activities that you and your partner can enjoy, you can have a spectacular Valentine’s Day that doesn’t break your budget.
You will want to have dinner on Valentine’s Day, and you can make a delicious 3-course meal in your own home, allowing for a lovely night indoors and away from the crowds. If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, you may even want to pack the food to go and find a moonlit park to enjoy your dinner.
A delicious meal that is easy to prepare is spaghetti and meatballs. You can never go wrong with Italian food, and the spaghetti gives you the opportunity to relive a few choice sappy movie moments.
The first course can be as simple as a Caesar salad. You can easily buy one of the salad kits in the produce section of your grocery store, though we’d recommend this great Alton Brown recipe. With some romaine and one-day old Italian bread, you can make a delicious salad with homemade croutons.
For your second course, you will need marinara sauce, meatballs, and spaghetti. With ground beef, egg yolks, Italian seasonings and breadcrumbs, you can make your own meatballs with ease. The inexperienced among us can use Rachel Ray’s easy meatball recipe. If you’re not a very good cook, you can still pull off meatballs flawlessly by buying them pre-made in the freezer section of the meat department and following the directions on the packaging.
To add to the flavor of the premade sauce you purchased at the grocery store, it never hurts to add in a little red wine. Plus, the red wine can be the beverage that you pour at the table, helping to enhance the overall meal. You can go as fancy as you want with the red wine, but since you’re having Italian food, Chianti is a good place to start.
Dessert should probably be your third course, and can always stay with the Italian theme. Almost any bakery has cannoli that you can purchase or you can try to prepare something on your own. You can always browse helpful websites like Food Network to locate a recipe that meets your level of culinary skills, or you can ask a more culinary-minded friend for suggestions. In the end, a single shared dessert with two forks is always a great launching pad for romance.
While your dinner will no doubt be delicious, you could also plan something to do that goes along with your low-budget evening. You may be able to find a fun, current movie to attend, but you may not want to be crowded in with a bunch of other people who had the same idea.
Instead, you could go on a tour of your city. This can be a walking tour, bike tour, or drive around town, but whatever your preferred mode of transportation, the point is that the two of you visit some of the sights you enjoy most. Viator.com offers a lot of tours around different cities, so you can start with one offered for your hometown and use it as a starting point for a more personalized tour. When the moon is setting, that’s a perfect time to get out and walk around, holding hands, having an intimate conversation, and enjoying each other’s company.
It’s also easy to set up a romantic activity in your backyard. Break out the white Christmas lights and string them up to help create some ambience. This may also be ideal to set the mood at dinner. You could also purchase a romantic novel or book of poetry that you can read aloud to your Valentine. Another option would be to find your favorite sappy romantic movie to watch outside - you can set it up on your tablet, or even set up a projector to play it on the side of the house.
In general, any Valentine’s Day activity you choose should be something that the two of you enjoy doing together – it shouldn’t be about the money. If there’s something the two of you have been talking about doing, figure out a way to do it without it costing a fortune. Make up your own games – grab some paper and markers and go to town. You might be able to make a new spin on Monopoly, Scrabble, or whatever your favorite board game might be.
The point is this – you can be as romantic as you want to be on Valentine’s Day without breaking the budget, because it’s the thought that counts. If you put a lot of thought and heart into how romantic your evening will be, your Valentine will be more touched by your actual effort than by the amount of money you spent at a store or fancy restaurant on a traditional Valentine’s Day.