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How to Make a Romantic Dinner on a Budget

A romantic dinner doesn’t always have to take place in an upscale, pricey restaurant–you can make it happen right in your very own home. If you’d like to share a nice candlelit dinner with the one you love but are forced to stick to a tight budget, don’t fret. By assuming the role of chef for an evening and taking advantage of the cozy and familiar surroundings of your very own kitchen or dining room–you can create a tasty dinner and an intimate ambiance sure to impress the one you love. Here’s how.

Plan a Menu

You can create a romantic dinner on a budgetThink about what kind of meal you’d like to prepare for your loved one, taking into consideration their likes and dislikes. Things you might want to offer include an appetizer, a soup or salad, and maybe even a dessert option, in addition to the main course. If you don’t know what to make, look through a cookbook or browse recipes online for some inspiration. Pay special attention to recipes with affordable ingredients, or ingredients that you may already have so that you don’t have to spend as much on the meal. If you’ve recently gone grocery shopping, you may want to try and incorporate some of the food items you’ve just purchased as part of your dinner. Also, if you or a close friend or family member has a vegetable garden, why not use some fresh (and free!) produce in your meal? Planning a menu ahead of time and including some ingredients that you already have on hand are great ways to save both time and money as you prepare for your romantic dinner at home.

Take Inventory

Once you’ve planned out a menu, take a look around your kitchen to see which ingredients you already have and which ones you’ll need to pick up at the store. Make a shopping list to take along with you will stop you from purchasing more than you really need. Don’t forget to include items on your list that will help contribute to the romantic ambiance if you don’t already have them. Candles, fresh flowers, or a pretty tablecloth are items you can find at a discount store or supermarket–usually at budget-friendly prices.

Look for Money-Saving Coupons

If you’re on a budget, you might already be familiar with the practice of using coupons to help you save at the grocery store. If, however, you’ve never used coupons–now is a great time to start. You can find coupons and sale ads inside newspapers and circulars, or by browsing for them online. Go down item by item on your shopping list, checking to see if there are any current coupon offers on the things you need to buy. When you come across coupons you can use, clip or print them and take them with you to the store.

Shop Smart

As you peruse aisle after aisle in the grocery store, keep an eye out for sales on the items you’ve written on your list. If you need salad dressing, for example, you’ll probably see several different brands of the same flavor to choose from. An excellent way to save some money is to either choose one that’s on sale, or select an off-brand one. Pay close attention to prices while you shop and get only the items you’ve put on your list. These smart shopping practices will prevent your jaw from dropping when the cashier announces your grand total.

Add a Personal Touch

Don’t be afraid to add few personal touches to your romantic dinner at home. Adding a personal touch or two will cost you little or nothing–and usually requires only some thought and creativity.  Use your finest dinnerware, drape the table with a pretty tablecloth, and top it off with a beautiful centerpiece. A vase filled with fresh flowers and a couple of glowing candles are special touches that won’t go unnoticed. Dim the lights, play some soft music, and dress the part before you start serving dinner. Perhaps, ask a close friend to serve for you.

As you can see, it’s entirely possible to make a romantic dinner at home without spending a fortune–and the experience is one that the two of you will treasure and remember. The time and effort you put into planning and preparing a romantic dinner will be well worth the money you’ll save–not to mention the smile you’ll put on your loved one’s face when they see what you’ve got in store for them.

Guest post from Jaime Castle.