Wendy Poling
Frequent Contributor

How Easy is That? – Ina Garten


I'm not sure how many holidays and special occasions my husband has missed, but I know for sure this past year he missed Valentine's Day, all of our Birthdays, and Christmas.


I am happy to report he was here this past Valentine's Day.


When it came time to plan how to celebrate this "romantic" evening several ideas came to mind. However, with him fighting jet lag and still settling in, we decided the best option would be to stay home. As for what exactly we would do, Dinner and Movie was the winner. We are such rebels. I'm glad ordering pizza did not win out! It's important to note, our youngest son would be home and our plans needed to be kid friendly.


In the end we both confidently agreed, we could probably recreate any steakhouse meal with a little preplanning and creativity. We also had just watched an episode of the Barefoot Contessa where she made "Steakhouse Steaks". Inspired, we set out to conquer this recipe.


In my experience, here are five ways to create a restaurant experience and save big money:


  1. Talk with your spouse and agree on a menu, keeping it simple and fresh. Get inspiration from Food Network or Pinterest. Write down everything needed and shop from that list, don't rely on your memory or you might forget a very important ingredient and have to substitute. In my case, canned parmesan cheese does not taste the same as fresh parmesan cheese. Oops!
  2. Use inexpensive flowers and candles to create a romantic table setting. At the very minimum, light a candle.
  3. Brew up a themed drink.
  4. Do as much as possible in advance (set the table, bake a yummy dessert, etc).
  5. Share the cooking duties. Even if that means one-person cooks and the other cleans up. He offered to cook, so I cleaned up and finish preparing dessert (icing heart shaped sugar cookies).


Regarding the movie, choose wisely. It was important for us that we each enjoyed the movie, which meant no sappy chick flicks or zombie movies. Pick a movie that appeals to both of your interests. Put the kids to bed and power up the movie. We rented a just released action, intrigue movie.


With a little creative planning and giving yourself enough time to execute your plan, you can create a memorable evening for less than what you'd spend on a gratuity at a fancy restaurant.


Next time you have a Friday night with your husband home, consider, How can I create something special for us to both enjoy? By visualizing the experience, you'll find your creative wheels will begin to turn!


Have you experienced a special date night at home? Please leave a comment below.


Related links:

Barefoot Contessa - Steakhouse Steaks recipe from FoodNetwork.com