Dinner at a fancy restaurant feels like a Valentine’s Day essential. But often the romance is lost in a crowded restaurant with pricey prix fixe menus.
It’s possible to keep the romance (and bank account) alive by staying in and cooking an elegant, affordable feast that will sweep your sweetie off his or her feet for under $50. We’re talking appetizer to dessert, decorations and flowers!
Need a gift to go with your dinner? We’ve got dozens of ideas for Valentine’s Day gifts — including some for the pickiest loved ones!
Here’s how to create a lovely Valentine’s Day dinner at home while staying within that $50 budget.
Decorations & Gifts
Blue Cheese & Pear Crostini
This is an elegant Valentine’s Day appetizer that’s simple to make. You’re cooking for two, so you don’t need a whole baguette. Go to the deli and buy a single sandwich roll for around 79 cents.
Slice and toast the bread, then spread a mixture of whipped cream cheese and gorgonzola on top. I chose to top mine with sliced pear since they’re in season and on sale.
Strawberry Spinach Salad
Save money when you make a dressing with pantry staples. The trick to getting a creamy vinaigrette is emulsifying your ingredients in a blender or food processor. Balsamic, olive oil, salt, and pepper are all you need to make a restaurant-worthy dressing. A dash of honey and Dijon will elevate it even more.
BOGO strawberry deals are a common February promotion, but berries have a short shelf life. I used them in my salad and dessert to make sure nothing went to waste.
Who doesn’t like shortcuts? Combine a product like onion soup mix with red potatoes to make an impressive two-ingredient dish that takes less than five minutes of prep time.
For an added touch, slice potatoes into discs, cut with a heart-shaped cookie cutter, and then simply roast your potato hearts as usual.
Save 60 cents on any two Lipton® Recipe Secrets® — use one for your Valentine’s Day dinner and another for the weekend!
Steak & Shrimp Surf n’ Turf
Many people think they need an expensive cut of steak like filet mignon for a romantic meal, but that can cost around $20 a pound. While filet isn’t ideal for a frugal meal, there is a reason why it’s so expensive: Filet mignon comes from the tenderloin, which is the considered the most tender and desirable cut.
However, if you choose meat from the sirloin, like a tri-tip or culotte (sirloin strip) steak, you lose some of that tenderness but still get an incredibly flavorful steak and a high value cut.
If finding a good deal on meat is almost as wonderful as biting into a flavorful, tender steak, try these 8 tips for buying meat — straight from the butcher’s mouth!
Many just assume seafood is going to be too expensive for a budget meal, but not when you shop the ads. One local store I shop at puts 12-ounce bags of shrimp on sale for $5 almost every Friday.
If you’re following my meal plan, you already got your strawberries with a BOGO deal when you bought salad ingredients.
For a twist on the classic chocolate-dipped strawberry, I opted for a healthier yogurt dip. Dip your strawberries in the yogurt flavor of your choice, sprinkle on a topping like chocolate sprinkles or mini chocolate chips, and freeze for 30 minutes.
Not sure which flavor your sweetie will like best? Try them all! You’ll save 50 cents when you purchase 5 cups of any variety of Yoplait® yogurt. Even if your love is lactose intolerant, they’ll still enjoy a yogurt treat and you’ll save 75 cents on any 2 Silk® dairy-free yogurt alternatives.
Shop the bargain bottles and you can get champagne for around $3.99. The trick to stretching the bottle and disguising the taste of inexpensive bubbly is , you guessed it: Adding a fruit puree and turning it into a Bellini!
Compare the price between fresh, frozen, or canned fruit to find the best deal — any will work. You may also want to compare the price between other sparkling drinks like Prosecco, an Italian sparkling wine, which can be an inexpensive alternative to champagne.
Don’t forget to take into consideration this coupon for 50 cents off any jar of Dole® jarred fruit when making your price comparison!
Conversation Heart Candles
Source: Poor & Pretty
It wouldn’t be Valentine’s Day if you weren’t eating by candlelight. Line the bottom of wine glasses or mason jars with candy conversation hearts and nestle a candle inside for some extra sweet mood lighting that’s easy and inexpensive.
Don’t be a slave to red roses, they’re often marked up on Valentine’s Day. Instead, you can find bouquets starting at $3.99 in grocery stores.
One of the best ways to build a big bouquet on the cheap is to buy several, single-variety bouquets and group them together at home. For example, buy a bunch of baby’s breath, a bouquet of pink daisies, and one of red carnations. Dye the water in your vase red for an added Valentine’s Day touch.
Source: The Dating Divas
No need to spend $5 on a greeting card. Make your own personalized card that doubles as the chocolates you intended to buy. Tape candy bars to your message to get your feelings out in the “sweetest” way possible.
Please any chocolate lover with a candy-gram or candy love poem. You’ll also save $1 when you buy 2 2-ounce bags of M&Ms®, Dove®, Snickers®, Twix®, Milky Way®, and 3 Musketeers®!
Want to create a special candy-inspired poem for your loved one? Check out my candy love poem and share yours with me in the comments below!