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Impressing on the Cheap: Preparing a Valentine's Day Dinner

Feb 7th, 2014

It can be difficult to find a restaurant that doesn’t offer a special menu or a more-romantic-than-usual setting on Valentine’s Day. While most of these menus are probably fantastic, special occasion dining can be expensive. And if you wish to celebrate at a highly-touted restaurant, you should have made reservations weeks ago.

If you don’t already have a dinner plans and you want to do something special for your significant other this Valentine’s Day, don’t worry. We’re going to walk you through how to pull off a romantic dinner from the comfort of home, without breaking the bank.

Choose Your Dinner Wisely

If you plan in advance, the sky (and your sweetheart’s dietary restrictions) is the limit on what you can choose to cook up for Valentine’s Day. We recommend narrowing your options by selecting a dish that:

  1. You know you can make (so there is little doubt it will turn out well!)
  2. You do not prepare for your partner often (so it’s special!)
  3. Does not require much attention immediately before or after being served (so you can give your undivided attention to your loved one)

Still not sure what to prepare? A handful of traditional Valentine’s Day main course offerings include: Filet mignon, stuffed lamb, beef Wellington, baked salmon, duck with cherry sauce, and pasta with marinara or pesto sauce. To get extra brownie points, make your significant other’s favorite meal or dessert.

Ready the Apartment

When your Valentine shows up for dinner, you want your place to look and feel good. Clean up, bust out your favorite red trimmings, scatter rose petals on the table, display a favorite photo of you and your partner, light some candles, turn on your Valentine’s Day playlist, and adjust the lighting to set the mood.

Cook with Love

A meal cooked with love is the best kind. If you can manage to keep a positive attitude as you prepare your Valentine’s Day dinner, it will shine through in the appearance and taste. Be mindful of your actions while you are in the kitchen, allowing yourself to appreciate each chop of vegetable and sprinkle of spice rather than viewing what you are doing as a chore. Allow extra time to limit stress.

Don’t Forget Dessert

Perhaps it’s the chocolates that line shelves in every grocery store you visit. Maybe it’s the time of year, with the freshness of winter having worn off long ago but the first signs of spring still too far off to feel real. Or it could even be Cupid himself, shooting hidden arrows at our chests that make your teeth feel a bit sweeter than normal. Whatever the cause, Valentine’s Day is a day to indulge in dessert, and you don’t want to disappoint your sweetheart by neglecting this important course. Dip strawberries in chocolate a day in advance and stick them in the freezer overnight for an easy, delicious treat. Take things a step further and prepare a chocolate fondue that can be heated up when the time is right and served with an assortment of delectable dippers under candlelight. Or, don’t listen to us at all and make whatever sweets you think will make your Valentine smile from ear to ear.

Make this Valentine’s Day dinner one your sweetheart will remember fondly for years to come. Just make sure to do the necessary planning and allow yourself enough time so you can relax and enjoy a romantic evening with your Valentine.

What was your most memorable Valentine’s Day?

 It pays to live at AMLI Evanston! We are excited to host an open house from 9am to 5pm on Sunday, February 9 for Northwestern University’s Day at Kellogg! Sign a lease and get an iPad Air plus one month rent free! Minimum 12-month lease term. Other restrictions may apply. Ask office for details. More information on our Facebook page. 

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