Need some ideas for low cost but high value Valentine’s Day treats? See if one of these will bring out the true Romantic in you.
Find the high end early bird specials.
Forget the image of doddering old folks eating at 4 p.m. at the local pancake shop. More and more upscale establishments are offering early bird specials (usually ordering before 6 p.m.) that include a three course menu. Offerings can include appetizers with high end choices such as lobster bisque, entrée choices that include steak, and desserts that equal the most decadent options imaginable, all for a set price in the $15-30 range per person. Get the chef to greet you. Pair it with something to do afterwards since you’ll have a longer night ahead of you.
Take her on a chocolates tour.
Find your hometown chocolate purveyor and ask for a behind-the-scenes tour. Check out three restaurants to find out their chocolate selections, and get one at each one for an extended dessert course (be sure to eat a light dinner!). Buy a dozen small boxes of chocolates in every variety and send her on a scavenger hunt. If nothing else, end the evening with a cozy cup of hot chocolate either at a trendy café or snuggled up at home.
Hire a personal chef for a night.
This is fun to go in with friends on, and will keep the cost down. Just book early, or be prepared for an alternate date. Determine the home, the menu, then lean back and gaze into her eyes while someone else does the cooking and cleaning up. If you don’t want to watch the cooking or have a stranger there during your romantic evening, have the chef prepare everything ahead of time and you do the last minute – just don’t claim it as your own or you’ll set an expectation that could be costly!
Cook for her.
This timeless classic way to a woman’s heart (or a man’s) is still high on the list. It doesn’t have to be filet mignon. Check out some of our recipes and choose something in your skill set to make. What’s important is that you set a nice table, light a candle, and leave the clean up until morning (if she insists on helping, though, consider marriage).
Make a kitchen gadget bouquet.
Really, for the serious foodie some of the fun new kitchen gadgets are much more enticing than the $100 you’d spend on a bouquet – and their shelf life (pun intended) is much, much longer. Choose the great ones in red and stick them in a glass mixing bowl with floral Styrofoam. Think pastry brush, peeler, pizza cutter. Beats perfume every time!
Visit a tapas bar or set up a series of appetizers with a wine tasting in your home.
Women like to try a lot of different things – if you recognize that desire, then you show an understanding of the female psyche that can win points. Look under “appetizers” in our recipes for some ideas.
Make an unexpected reservation – dinner for two in a quiet spot, away from the Valentine’s crowd.
Get a friend to pick up the food (Chinese take out works just fine) and set up a table in an unexpected place and surprise her when you say, ‘how about dinner here?’ Get permission to use the corner of an art gallery (call it performance art). Borrow a loft apartment. See what’s available in a public park. It lowers initial expectations, then makes her heart soar when she realizes the planning you put into the evening.
Buy a cookbook for yourself, with the promise to make her choice of recipes in it.
If you are in a long-term relationship, go ahead and promise once a month. Just be sure to deliver.
Offer to organize her recipes into a make-your-own cookbook.
We recommend Lulu for a great self-publish site that will show you how to do it.
Make a list of restaurants in your area – preferably ones you haven’t yet tried – and promise to take her to one a month for the whole year.
Stick to it, and no repeats allowed (unless you are ready to take her out twice!). Various price ranges are totally acceptable. If you break up before the year is out, it’s even more her loss.
Above all, find something that fits your style and your budget. Nothing is more romantic than being together with a little food and fun!