Valentine’s Day Menu on a Budget

valentines day menu

February is here! And that means Valentine’s Day is right around the corner. Instead of worrying about how you’ll afford expensive sweets, chocolates, and flowers, focus on what matters: spending time with your loved ones! Whether you are celebrating as a couple, with a group of friends, or even on your own, there are fun and affordable ways to have a good time this Valentine’s Day. Check out some low-cost Valentine’s Day menu ideas and other tips on making this Valentine’s Day special.

Affordable Valentine’s Day Dinner Ideas

Whether you are spending a cozy night with friends or having a date night with someone special to you, you’ll want to try these yummy recipes to step up your Valentine’s Day game! 

Heart-Shaped Pizza

  • Estimated prep time: 10 minutes for cooking at home, 0 minutes for takeout
  • Estimated cook-time: 45 minutes for cooking at home, 0 minutes for takeout
  • Estimated meal cost: Less than $20 for cooking at home, approximately $30-$50 for takeout

Heart-shaped pizzas are becoming almost as common as a box of chocolates and flowers when it comes to Valentine’s Day traditions. To hop on this trend you can get a pizza from a popular chain like Domino’s or Papa John’s, or make a pizza on your own. 

If your plan is to make a pizza at home, consider making it a group effort to include your partner or friends. You can each make your own personal heart-shaped pizzas or a group pizza with everyone’s favorite toppings! 

Wild Mushrooms and Sausage Pasta

  • Estimated prep time: 10 minutes
  • Estimated cook-time:  30 minutes 
  • Estimated meal cost: Less than $30

Simple recipes like a pasta dish can be instantly date-night worthy with a few elegant additions like some wild mushrooms or Italian sausage paired with some red wine. For this dish, simply boil some pasta and set it aside. Then, in a separate skillet, saute some mushrooms and Italian sausage of your choice. Once the meat is cooked through all the way, add in your pasta and pour a glass of red wine for an instantly classy dinner. 

One-Pot Chicken and Rice With White Wine Sauce

  • Estimated prep time: 10 minutes
  • Estimated cook-time: 45 minutes 
  • Estimated meal cost: Less than $25

Take a classic dish like cheesy chicken and rice and elevate it for your special Valentine’s Day dinner with some white wine sauce. For this recipe, cube your chicken and put it in a pot or Dutch oven with some rice, chicken broth, and your favorite seasonings. Once most of the broth has been absorbed, add in some white wine and continue to stir for a few minutes until the alcohol in the wine has cooked away (be sure to use white and not red wine so you get the right flavor!). After the chicken is cooked through, add some melty cheese on top for an easy and delicious meal! 

Simple Surf ‘N Turf

  • Estimated prep time: 5 minutes 
  • Estimated cook-time: 30 minutes 
  • Estimated meal cost: Less than $50

Ditch the expensive menu items you’ll find in a classic steakhouse and cook a simple surf ‘n turf dish at home! You can get filet mignon, ribeye, or a more affordable cut of steak, depending on your budget, and pair it with some fish like shrimp, lobster, scallops, or oysters. 

Since the steak and fish can get more on the expensive side, you may want to pair your meats with a more cost-effective side dish like some simple seasoned vegetables, baked potato, rice, or some pasta.

Roasted Sweet Potatoes in Creamy Sauce 

  • Estimated prep time: 15 minutes
  • Estimated cook-time: 25 minutes 
  • Estimated meal cost: Less than $20

This one is a great side dish you can pair with any of the meal suggestions above, or with your own favorite dish! To start, chop some sweet potatoes and roast them in the oven until they are fork-tender. While your potatoes are roasting, cook a simple creamy sauce on a skillet using some butter, flour, heavy cream or milk product of your choice, and some seasonings. Once your sauce is incorporated and your potatoes are cooked, combine the two ingredients. You can also get fancy with some food styling and drizzle your creamy sauce over your potatoes instead of mixing them together completely. 

Other Tips To Make Your Valentine’s Day Dinner Special 

Besides having a delicious meal together, you can show your Valentine you care by incorporating some thoughtful elements into your festivities. 

Food Styling

You can elevate just about any dish with some thoughtful plating or food styling. For example, instead of plopping some spaghetti on a plate, take your time and twirl the pasta so it makes a unique spiral design. Or, instead of throwing together a salad, be thoughtful about the ingredients you include so your end product is a colorful rainbow instead of a green blob. Food styling can be a great way to make a simple meal feel fancy, no matter the occasion! 

Decorate Your Space

You can make your Valentine’s Day space memorable without having to go to a Michelin-star restaurant or a classic steakhouse. In addition to elevating your recipes with food styling, take your living space to the next level with some themed decorations. You can create a romantic and elegant environment with some simple additions like candles, a tablecloth, or by using special serving dishes. Set the perfect scene to get down on one knee, or a space to have a good time with friends! In fact, you may even be able to save money over the years by re-using decorations! 

Homemade Gifts / Ways To Show You Care

You can show your appreciation for your friends or loved ones by putting a little extra effort and thought into a homemade gift. That gift can be something physical like a hand-drawn card or a home-cooked meal, or you can also perform acts of service like cleaning out the pesky closet that’s been nagging your partner for months or finally organizing that Tupperware cabinet. The point is to do something meaningful to represent that special bond you have with your friends or partner, which doesn’t have to cost a thing!    

Speaking of homemade Valentine’s Day cards, did you know that people in the Victorian Era would reject unwanted suitors with Valentine’s Day cards dipped in vinegar?!1

CreditNinja’s Final Thoughts on Creating a Valentine’s Day Menu

Valentine’s Day is one of those holidays most people either love or hate. If Valentine’s Day isn’t your favorite holiday, you may find you enjoy it much more if you take off the pressure and do some fun DIY recipes at home.

1. Valentine’s Day 2024 Facts | HISTORY

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