Foodie news | Five steps to a home-cooked Valentine’s dinner | SierraSun.com

Foodie news | Five steps to a home-cooked Valentine’s dinner

Sheri Alzeerah
Special to the Sun

Cupid’s arrow is on the loose and this time he’ll shoot your heart, not your wallet.

Instead of blowing your budget on heart-shaped chocolates inside heart-shaped boxes affixed to heart-shaped cards, treat your special someone to something from the heart.

Ditch the restaurant date for a dinner-for-two from the comfort of your kitchen. This frugal, fun and very doable option will make Valentine’s Day a happy one indeed with a significantly reduced V-Day bill.

Follow this five-step method:

1. Get inspired.

Look no farther than the World Wide Web for an assortment of recipe ideas fitted for your date. Recipes catered toward those new to cooking and those willing to slave away at a gourmet entree reside side-by-side on food blogs and food sites. Plus, food shows this time of year hone in on the V-Day spirit, offering love-inspired meals for couples and friends.

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Don’t be afraid to try something new, but on the same token, be realistic. If you’ve only got a few hours to prepare, find a recipe that fits your schedule.

2. Make a menu. 

As with any meal, preparation is key. After sorting through recipes and reviews online, on TV and in, gasp, cookbooks, narrow down your options to what’s delicious and doable in a night. 

From a starter to the entree to the sides to the dessert to the beverages throughout the course of the meal, don’t skimp on a detailed menu. Unless this V-Day din is a surprise for your sweetie, feel free to share the menu and decide together on what to eat and cook.

3. Write down a shopping list.

Avoid last-minute grocery store runs and last-resort substitutions. Make a shopping list before hitting up the grocery store.

Check on what ingredients you already have, refer to your menu and build the list from there. Shopping with a list is like driving with a GPS – save time, save money and allot for what you’re getting into well in advance.

4. Hunt for deals and coupons.

Now that your menu is set, begin to scour the mail and online for grocery discounts. See what sorts of dinner-for-two deals you can find at your favorite store. 

Pay special attention to in-store discounts as well, reading the fine print to make sure that your deal is legit and valuable. For example, buying in bulk for a dinner for two might not be a wise decision unless the bulk can be used in the weeks following Valentine’s Day. 

5. Do prep work.

Prevent kitchen mishaps by preparing ahead as much as possible without sacrificing freshness. Whether that means slicing veggies, marinating meats or even setting the table (no detail is too small when it comes to this last one), time management is crucial to a successful homemade date. 

Do, however, stay flexible. If a dish just doesn’t work out, have a back-up plan. Think along the lines of TV dinners and quick sandwiches. After all, these failed attempts could wind up being quirky and romantic-comedy cute. 

This Valentine’s Day, kiss the fancy, shmancy dinners out goodbye and instead, give a little love to home-grown sweetness. 

– Sheri Alzeerah is a journalist and freelance writer for meal planning service http://www.foodonthetable.com