A romantic dinner for two is a great way to spend Valentine’s Day, but going out to eat can become expensive. Restaurants create expensive fixed menus because they know they’ll get customers no matter the price. With Valentine’s Day falling on a Friday this year, going to a restaurant to celebrate may be even less appealing. Fortunately, you can save money by cooking a Valentine’s Day dinner for two in your apartment. Here are a few tips to get the details just right:
Plan the Menu
Start picking out dishes a week or so ahead of time in order to have a chance to prepare. Choose courses that are easy to make so that you don’t get too stressed. An easy menu might include an appetizer of bruschetta, a light salad and a simple fish entree. You can end with cake and coffee. Be sure the dishes are compatible with your date’s diet. You don’t want to serve a vegetarian meat or give a dish with peanut butter sauce to someone who’s allergic. Ask your date if he or she has any diet restrictions.
Valentine’s Day is on a Friday this year, meaning you might have to work before your date arrives. Instead of rushing through cooking on the 14th, prepare some components the night before. Using the sample menu, you can make the bruschetta topping and keep it in the refrigerator. Put together the salad, but leave off the dressing, and bake the cake the night before. Give yourself a couple hours before your date arrives to pop in the fish, set the table and open a bottle of wine–if it’s red, it will need to aerate.
Hosting your dinner for two is going to be a fun process, and it should start with some simple cleaning. Declutter your entire apartment, putting books on the shelf and clothes in the closet. You want your date to feel comfortable, not cramped. Once your apartment is tidy, pull out the broom. Sweep, vacuum, dust and wipe down all surfaces.
Pay particularly close attention to the rooms you plan on using, including the living room, kitchen and bathroom. When you feel you’re all done, take a step back and observe your work. Look for any details you might have missed.
Create a Romantic Mood
Set the tone of the evening with nice lighting, an appealing scent and music. Warm low light is the best way to go. Candles are great because they act as lighting and as an air freshener. Pick a scent you think your date will like and light it a few minutes before he or she is due to arrive so the smell fills the apartment.
You don’t have to have “romantic” music playing to create a good Valentine’s Day dinner, but something light and generally upbeat is a safe bet. If the two of you have discussed a favorite band or genre, play that.