Valentines Day on a Budget

In entertainment, food on February 7, 2009 at 11:06 pm

Here we are, one week away and what’s to do? We all know we love our SO’s but really? $100 for dinner? Here is an article I found inspiring by the Times in London.


Simon Majumdar

I recently received an email from a well-known London restaurant urging me to rush to make a reservation for their Valentine’s Day “extravaganza” experience.

Adding up the price of the set menu meal, wine and tip, I calculated it would cost me close to £100 per head. Now, I can’t speak for the rest of you but, in these times of credit crunch the chances of me spending £200 on a romantic meal — any meal in fact — are extremely slim.

But impressing the one you love with food this Valentine’s Day does not have to be a wallet-crippling experience. There are several ways for you to show your more romantic side, without breaking the bank.

1. Picnic with a few of his or her favorite things: Fill it with the food you know your partner adores. Bear in mind they don’t have to be expensive goods. If your partner loves a particular flavour of crisps or has an addiction to Walnut Whips, make sure they are in there. Knowing the foods that make them happy will say more than an impersonal basket of champagne and caviar ever could.

2. Hand-make a gift: If your budget doesn’t stretch to buying a Valentine’s Day foodie gift, then why not make them something special? I recently spent a day with master chocolate maker Paul A Young and he shared a delicious recipe for home-made truffles. They are incredibly simple to create and for under £20 you can make enough to keep your loved one sweet for days. [ Note, here is a great video on truffle making too!]

3. Do lunch: Instead of an expensive dinner, go out for lunch or brunch instead. Many of the best restaurants in the country offer fantastic breakfasts or set lunch menus that will be positive bargains compared to their regular menus. Nothing could be more pleasant than lingering over a delicious mid-morning or mid-day meal before walking it off with a stroll in the park.

4. Progressive eating: indulge in the relatively new fad of progressive eating which involves moving from restaurant to restaurant between courses. Set yourself a budget and take it in turns to plan the perfect place to have a starter, main course and dessert, finishing off with a coffee and a nightcap. They don’t have to be high-end places, just places that mean something to you both.

5. Eat in: What is your love’s favourite fast food? Recreate their most-loved takeaway dishes at home. Be it fish and chips or a Thai curry, serve it up in takeaway containers to add a touch of authenticity. Chances are it will probably taste better than the real thing and be a lot healthier too. Combine this with their favourite movie and you are set for the perfect romantic night in. Alternatively light some candles and treat your lover to an intimate and decadent home-cooked meal for two. Even if you splurge on some luxury ingredients, the meal will still work out cheaper than a high-end restaurant.

6. Mix food with fun: Think of unusual venues where, although the food may not be the main focus you and your partner can have lots of fun. A supper while watching a night of greyhound racing is fantastic fun and you may come away having covered the cost of a meal or even with a tidy profit. Scampi and chips in a basket as you play a fierce game of bingo will be as memorable as any fine-dining experience and a pint of cockles or whelks as you walk along a windswept seaside pier may either make or break your relationship, but your partner will certainly never forget it.

Remember, in the end it is the thought that counts. So, take the time to think about what makes your lover happy and they will be sure to respond in kind. Mind you, this is coming from a man who once bought his girlfriend an antique pipe rack for Valentine’s Day, so what do I know?

Simon Majumdar is author of the food blog


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