Thomas Merton Quote on Love

****UPDATED 2/13/15****

Valentine’s Day is literally upon us and couples everywhere are scrambling for last minute gifts and date ideas. It’s understandable; even the most reluctant of admirers feels the pressure to DO SOMETHING for Valentine’s Day. Some of the ideas below may even help spur some sudden inspiration. These are recipes and suggestions I’ve found on various blog posts, ranging from super simple and frugal to far more romantic and involved.  Here’s a full date night dinner round up that’s sure to get ideas going for much longer than just Valentine’ Day.

Fireside Meal For Two

My goodness, with the crazy winter all across the nation, this may be the simplest yet most romantic way to spend your date night. What is cozier than a roaring fire, a lovely bottle of wine, and some soft jazz in the background. Just kidding about the soft jazz, unless that really is your thing. Truly though, a night by the fire is an excellent way to have intimate conversations with each other. This is wonderful for new couples just getting to know each other and fantastic for long- term couples who sometimes forget to take the time for these moments.

  • For the chef – Try this incredible recipe from Delish – Filet Mignon with Shallot-Red Wine Sauce and Garlic Frites. This has all the necessary ingredients for a divine date night dinner and actually simple to throw together. Unless your date is adverse to red meat, this is slam dunk.
  • For the frugal – Opt out of dinner completely and just do dessert. I know it sounds crazy but this a great option for Friday night date, where starting last may be just the ticket after a long work day. However, make sure the dessert is delectable so if you don’t bake, splurge a little at a bakery for a lovely dessert for two. Sharing can be half the fun!

Picnic In The Park

Right now, in sub freezing weather it may be hard to think about hanging out in the park on date night. However, don’t forget how charming hot chocolate and ice skating are, especially if you haven’t done it in years. It can be quite entertaining to keep each other from falling down. Admittedly though, this is a fantastically frugal date option best suited for spring. Warm nights where two people can wander around the paths aimlessly. Or if you are more adventurous, try an outdoor boot camp or bike ride. Either way, don’t forget the delights of a picnic. Picnics can range from over-the-top impressive to deliciously refined, but all are enjoyable.

  • For the chef –  It just doesn’t get any better than a picnic with fried chicken. Yes, you can make a healthy version of it too! Try this Baked Fried Chicken Recipe from Snack Girl and you won’t be sorry. Add a freshly tossed salad and some bread and voila – instant satisfaction guaranteed.
  • For the frugal – Yes, cooking at home can often cost less, but another money saving option is to grab some take out. Spend a little time researching trendy new places near the park and get an entree to split or look for the best pizza by the slice place in the area. You gain extra points for being hip here.

Try A Class Together

Learning something new together is wildly romantic and keeps things interesting. Your absolute best bet to get dinner out of the deal too is to look for a cooking class offered at a local culinary school or Whole Foods. But you really don’t have to limit your self to dinner choices. Cup of Jo blogger Joanna Goddard and her husband had a most series of date nights that included pool lessons and a trapeze class! The main point is to get out of your comfort zone a bit and find a new way to connect.

  • For the chef – Another possibility could be that you host your own cooking class at home. Find a new recipe that involves a cool cooking tool or technique you’ve never tried and figure it out together. Not sure where to start? Try browsing the tools at for inspiration.
  • For the frugal – Let’s face it, if you are diving off a trapeze, putting a lot on the stomach may be difficult. Aim for an afternoon class and reward your courage with ice cream instead.

Granted, Valentine’s Day can be over commercialized and comes with almost too much pressure for forced efforts. However, it is also a lovely reminder that thinking about a new date night dinner can add quite a spark to both new and long-term relationships.

AND- if you are looking for some totally free or frugal deals right now, check out these opportunities!!