Valentine Dinner on a Budget Guide

Valentine Dinner on a Budget Guide

You want to really celebrate Valentine’s Day with your beloved, but the budget just isn’t cut out for that elaborate meal you want. What to do? Don’t panic. You can have a Valentine’s Dinner on a frugal budget. A romantic Valentine’s dinner for shoestring budgets doesn’t have to seem cheap at all. 

Romantic Valentine’s Dinner for Shoestring Budgets

You may want to wow your beloved with a steak dinner or maybe your palette cherishes the taste of a rosemary and lemon Cornish hen. Whatever you prefer, you can create it on a shoestring budget if you plan in advance. Creating a dinner in increments over a few weeks won’t strain your budget the same way if you wait until the day before your dinner. This gives you time to take advantage of sales and special purchases.

Shop Around for Grocery Deals

You know those annoying Wednesday sale papers and flyers you find stuffed in your mailbox? Instead of automatically tossing them into the trash can, look through to see what you can use. You can find some great grocery buys. Clip the coupons you need and buy those ribeye steaks or Cornish hens on sale. You can vacuum seal steaks or chicken to put in the freezer until the day before your big romantic Valentine’s meal!

Steak or Cornish Hen?
Both Are Great!

Whether your are steak or chicken lovers, either one makes a great protein choice. If you’re a vegetarian, then you can substitute a protein for this portion of your romantic meal.

Start with Wine for Valentine Dinner on a Budget Guide

You want to select the right wine for your meal. The standard red wine for meat and white for poultry and fish never fails.

Choose Red or White Wine

I personally don’t like white wine, so I always go with red wine. Don’t be afraid to break the rules if your taste don’t line up with the rules for norm! And, if your lover is a beer drinker, then provide him/her with that favorite brew!

Steaks for Two

Select your favorite steak cut and plan your dinner. My favorite is ribeye. To me, it’s one of the tastiest steak choices. Steaks, in my opinion are best cooked on an open flame, such as a grill or a stove suitable for grilling. If you can’t grill, then oven baking at 350° will also give you a great steak.  Below is a general baking guide. The time factor depends on your oven and how quickly it heats/bakes.

Steak cooking times:
Well done: 10-12 minutes on each side
Medium rare: 8-10 minutes on each side
Rare: 6-8 minutes on each side

My Secret Ingredient for Amazing Steaks!

I’m going to share my secret ingredient for a fail-safe delicious steak. Once you try this, you won’t ever be without it! Slight drum roll ~~~~~


That’s it! You want to be generous with the onion powder on each side as you are grilling or baking your steaks. Don’t forget to salt and paper. 

You also might want to check out:

Cornish Hens for Two

Cornish hens may sound like a budget buster, but if you purchase frozen ones, you’ll save money. They usually run around $6 to $7 for a package of two. You can purchase these individually for around $3 each.

You can select any kind of chicken for this portion of your meal, but if you want something different for your romantic dinner, try a pair of Cornish hens.

Or try:

Two Cornish Hens
You will typically find Cornish Hens sold as two per pack; however, this recipe is for one hen.
Servings: 1
Author: Sally Painter
  • 1 tsp rosemary powder or ½ tsp chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1-2 tbs olive oil
  1. In a small bowl. I prefer to use a coffee mug, mix dry ingredients together.
  2. Using a spoon, deposit half the mixture inside the hen.
  3. Lift hen and shake so the powder is distributed inside the cavity.
  4. You want to rub olive oil and powder underneath the skin (it separates easily from the meat), otherwise the taste will be trapped in the skin. You can also rub olive oil over the skin and sprinkle another batch of powder mixture over the outside of the bird. 

  5. *If the hens are larger than normal, you may need to double the powder for each bird.
  6. *If you opt for a regular chicken to roast, you can increase the powder rub one recipe x per pound.
  7. Bake at 450° for 45 to 55 minutes (depending on oven). Check for done by inserting a thermometer in thigh (thick area) for a reading between 170° and 180°. 

Have a Little Heart

One thing you can do to make your meal extra hearty is with heart-shapes. This can be as simple as a heart-shaped muffin pan or heart-shaped cookie cutters. Use these to cut out heart-shaped rolls. Of course, you need a mouth-watering fluffy roll recipe. My mom made the very best yeast rolls for every family holiday dinner and other family meals.

Mom’s Yeast Rolls
Cook Time
10 mins

These are very easy yeast rolls to make. It will require a little time-management and planning, but the effort is worth it that extra romantic touch to your meal!

Servings: 10
Author: Sally Painter
  • 1 pkg yeast
  • 3 cup All Purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ½ cup shortening
  • ½ cup warm water
  • ½ cup hot water
  • 1 egg
  1. In a small bowl, empty yeast packet and add warm water. Thoroughly mix with a fork and set aside.
  2. On low speed, cream sugar and shortening.
  3. Pour hot water over mixture and stir to blend.
  4. In a bowl, beat one egg for one minute.
  5. Mix egg and shortening, sugar and yeast together.
  6. Sift flour and salt together.
  7. Slowly, spoon in flour/salt to mixture, with mixer on low or medium speed until all the flour has been added and thoroughly mixed.
  8. Refrigerate overnight or a minimum of 3 hours.
  9. Roll chilled dough onto a lightly floured surface about ½” thick.
  10. Use heart-shaped cookie cutters to cut dough for rolls.
  11. Place cut out rolls onto a greased shallow pan. Drape a warm damp cloth over the pan making sure the cloth doesn’t touch the rolls.
  12. Allow rolls to rise in warm place for 1.5 hours.
  13. Preheat oven 400° and bake rolls for 10 minutes. When done, the rolls may be slighting tinged brown around the edges and will spring back when touched.
  14. Serve with butter.

Heart-Shaped Roasted Potatoes

Potatoes are cheap and add a comfort food component to any meal, especially a Valentine’s dinner. This is a great choice for a Valentine’s dinner on a budget. The heart shapes give this common food a face-lift for the occasion. You can also dress this side up or keep it rustic. Either way it is delicious side for your steak or chicken meal.

Heart Shaped Roasted Potatoes

This recipe is easy and tastes great!

Author: Sally Painter
  • 4-6 medium red potatoes
  • ¼ c olive oil
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 3-4 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 1 large sprig fresh rosemary or dried (chopped)
  • ¼ c parsley (chopped)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Peel potatoes and slice lengthwise 1/4″ thick.
  2. Soak in ice water with 2 tsp salt for 5 minutes.
  3. Place a pan of water over medium heat and bring to a boil.
  4. Meanwhile, drain potatoes, patting dry with paper towel.
  5. Place on cutting board and cut out small heart shapes with a cookie cutter.
  6. Place in boiling water for 1 minute. Remove and drain.
  7. In a bowl whisk together olive oil, minced garlic, salt, pepper, onion powder and garlic powder.
  8. Gently add potato hearts and turn out onto baking sheet or pan.
  9. Spread potatoes so they aren’t stacked on top of each other but lay flat in the pan.
  10. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and rosemary.
  11. Bake at 375° for 10 or 15 minutes, depending on oven.
  12. Turn potatoes once the tops begin to blister and turn golden brown.

  13. Brown other sides and remove from oven and serve.

Roasted Asparagus Spears

The key to great roasted asparagus is to select thin spears. These will typically be the most tender spears. Be sure to cut off the ends to get to the tender part of the stalk. A Valentine’s dinner is ideal for serving roasted asparagus.

Buy Ahead of Time

You can often find asparagus on sale or as weekly specials. Asparagus will freeze beautifully for cooing later on. Just be sure to use immediately upon thaw to avoid sogginess. I like to vacuum seal these and then store in freezer. If you’re going to use them within a week, go ahead and vacuum seal and store in the refrigerator.

Roasted Asparagus Spears

Select thin spears for most tender asparagus!

Author: Sally Painter
  • Bunch of asparagus, opt for thin spears for best results
  • Olive oil to drizzle over spears
  • ¼ c grated Parmesan cheese
  • Garlic powder to taste
  • onion powder dash
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Wash asparagus and pat dry with paper towel.
  2. Place on cutting board and cut off ends.
  3. Drizzle olive oil over roasting pan and spread over pan using fingers or paper towel.
  4. Sprinkle garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper over spears.
  5. Bake 425° for 10 – 12 minutes (depending on oven)
  6. Remove from oven and while still hot, sprinkle Parmesan cheese over cooked asparagus. This allows the cheese to melt but not cook and become hardened for better eating.
  7. Serve immediately.

Pecan Pie Dessert

While there are many desserts you can choose, such as the iconic chocolate covered strawberries, my favorite is pecan pie. It is a sexy pie that has pieces of delicious pecan and a gooey filling that is so sweet, you’ll need a cup of coffee to complete this palate delight! I have included several variations to this classic Southern dessert. Don’t forget you can always top it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream.

Here is one of our favorite classic Pecan Pie recipes from Good Housekeeping: 

Old-Fashioned Pecan Pie

Or try:

Making a Romantic Valentine Dinner on a Budget Guide

You can set the stage for a romantic Valentine dinner on a budget with this guide. You can add special touches to make your Valentine’s dinner romantic. These include, flowers, music, candle light, incense or aromatherapy diffuser, table linens, china, silverware and crystal glassware.

photos: pexels, wikimedia, pixabay


AuthorSally Painter

"Everyone can have a beautiful home decor. It just takes a little creativity," says author and freelance writer Sally Painter. This former commercial and residential designer is also a Feng Shui practitioner and believes that, "Everything you choose to put in your home should resonate with you emotionally. If it doesn't - get rid of it!"