Meal Planning Monday ~ A Romantic Valentine’s Dinner

This week’s post is by Christine Luken.

Valentine’s Day is this Friday!  Do you and sweetheart have plans for a romantic dinner?  Nick and I try to avoid the crowds, so we usually have a nice Valentine’s dinner at home.  Maybe your family is trying to get out of debt and you don’t have money in the budget for a fancy dinner out.  Either way, read on for tips for creating a romantic dinner for two without breaking the bank!

Set the Mood & the Table ~ If you’ve got children, pack them up and send over to grandma’s house or make other babysitting arrangements.  Make sure your dining area is clean and clutter-free (don’t worry too much about the rest of the house!)  Dress up your table with nice cloth napkins and a tablecloth.  (Don’t have them?  Pick up pretty ones at cheap prices at stores like Home Goods.) Bring out the good dishes, silverware, wine glasses and some unscented candles.  Cue up a romantic playlist on your iPod and you’re ready for dinner!

Dinner ~ An impressive dinner doesn’t have to mean hours in the kitchen!  I’ll be making Cornish Game Hens with Garlic & Rosemary, wild rice, and roasted asparagus.  Not a fan of chicken?  Try Oven Roasted Salmon with Parmesan-Mayo Crust or Mushroom Stuffed London Broil.  Keep your side dishes simple.  And don’t forget the wine!


Wine ~ Wine is a nice touch to your romantic Valentine’s dinner.   If you’re a red wine fan, try Ecco Domani Merlot.  It’s a balanced red that would be a great accompaniment to the salmon or London broil.  For a white wine that’s neither too oaky nor sweet, pick up a bottle of Robert Mondavi’s Lightly Oaked Chardonnay.  Both wines are very reasonably priced, which makes it even better.  Cheers!

Dessert ~ In my opinion, Valentine’s dessert has to be something chocolate!  Chocolate dipped strawberries are an easy and delicious option.  If you’re feeling more ambitious, whip up this Chocolate Rum Cake the day before.  You won’t be sorry!  It’s absolutely decadent – and goes surprisingly well with a glass of red wine.  If you’re pressed for time, just pick up a bag of dark chocolates wrapped in red and pink foil and place them in a pretty dish.

If you are going out for your Valentine’s Day dinner, here are some money-saving tips to keep in mind:

  • If you’ve got a coupon or a Groupon, it’s likely that the restaurant won’t accept it on Valentine’s Day (or other holidays), so consider celebrating a day early or a day late to take advantage of those discounts.  The restaurant will probably be less crowded which means better service for you!
  • Skip the soda and stick to water.  If you’re going to order wine or beer, try the house specials which are always less expensive.  If you plan on drinking several glasses of wine between the two of you, it will be most cost effective to spring for a bottle versus buying by the glass.
  • Split an appetizer, order two salads and split an entrée.  Same goes for dessert!  Restaurant portions are huge, so it’s easy to feed two people for the price of one.  If you have leftovers, take them home!  Last night’s fillet can be steak and eggs in the morning.

What are your Valentine’s Day plans?  Are you eating in or eating out?