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How to Plan a Romantic Date on a Budget

on February 2, 2015 by Ashley 0 comments

By Ashley Roe, Contributing Writer

Taking time to date your spouse is important every month, not just in February! But making your special someone feel special can seem like a daunting task if you are on a tight budget. The good news is that planning a romantic date is possible even when money is tight.

How to Plan a Romantic Date on a Budget

In the years since my husband and I have been together we have rarely spent a lot of money going out on dates. It’s not that we don’t like going out but often living on a small budget has made this difficult. However, I think I am able to enjoy the times we have been able to go out or splurge a little all the more because of the financial hardships we have endured.

I can say that I know what it is like to not have a lot to spend on each other which is why I like to share ideas for inexpensive dates. My favorite dates to plan have been for special occasions like Valentines Day or anniversaries. My goal with these kind of dates isn’t as much to have a specific activity to do but just to create a romantic atmosphere and enjoy being together. To help you plan a romantic date for your sweetie, I will give you some ideas for food, gifts and simple ways to make it special.

The Meal 

I am sure you have heard that a way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. I think this is generally true though it often works for me too. In fact for our first Valentines Day together, my husband cooked me the most incredible meal. Even though I have since learned my way around the kitchen, with his help of course, my mouth still waters when I think about that meal.

If you are not a self proclaimed chef, you can still make a special meal at home for much less than the cost of a dinner out. It just takes a little time and preparation. Here’s some ideas of things I have made to get you started. 

Breakfast and Lunch

For breakfast go for something light and fun like white chocolate raspberry scones. These scones make a fun Valentines Day breakfast because they turn a little bit red from the raspberries.

raspberry white chocolate scones

Lunch doesn’t have to be anything elaborate. Maybe just make a batch of his favorite cookies as a treat in his lunch. If he’s going to be at work, put a little note in the lunch to remind him how excited you are for your date that night.


When I think about a special dinner, I often think of Italian food. I don’t know if it’s the vision I have of the old Disney movie Lady and the Tramp but spaghetti and meatballs just seems like a romantic meal.

spaghetti and meatballs

Here are my recipes for for homemade pasta sauce and turkey kale meatballs.

To go along with this kind of meal I like to have a loaf of fresh bread with olive oil and dipping spices. It reminds me of my favorite Italian restaurant and feels more special than just garlic bread. If you don’t want to make homemade bread, just pick up something from the bakery.


For an easy dessert that goes together quickly, try chocolate lava cakes. I like making these for when I want a nice treat but don’t desire to slave in the kitchen for hours.

chocolate lava cake

My favorite dessert for special occasions that takes a little more work is tiramisu. I use the recipe from my Betty Crocker cookbook and substitute mascarpone with cream cheese. I would also never pass up a slice of  homemade cheesecake, made by my husband of course.

Gift Ideas

If you are celebrating a special occasion, gifts are likely to be involved. I may be a bit sappy, but I still love getting roses, a nice card and maybe even some of my favorite chocolate from my husband. Picking out something for him is not quite as easy, especially when the budget is tight. So I have learned to get creative.

Love Notes: For our first anniversary, I made a love note scrapbook for my husband. In the book, I printed out little cards with things I love about him and put them in small envelopes pasted to the pages of the book. Then I added a few printed quotes to the pages.  

Love Notes

If you don’t want to make a full book like this, start a love note journal or just write out a list of things you love about him. If you are stuck for specific ideas, try picking one thing for each letter of the alphabet. Whatever you choose, love notes are a great easy and inexpensive gift that anyone is sure to love. I  mean who wouldn’t want to be showered with love and compliments? 

Keepsake Memory Box:  All you need is a box and maybe some scrapbook paper to decorate it. Find anything that you might have lying around like old love notes or cards and put them in the box. When giving the gift, discuss the kinds of things you might like to keep in it.

In our box, I have postcards from trips, movie tickets, mementos from our wedding and greeting cards from each other as well as friends and family. I even have some paint chip samples of when we were picking out colors for our bedroom. I love this because it has things that remind me of time we spent together.

Love Coupons: Give the gift of relaxation by making some coupons for things like a back massage or foot rub, breakfast in bed and his favorite dessert made by you.

Date Night Cards: Date night cards are a great way to have lots of ideas for when you are stuck for what to do. You can have them already filled out with date ideas but when I first made mine I left them blank. Then my husband and I discussed things we enjoy doing together and filled out the cards with those ideas.

Get a free printable of blank date cards from Joyful Thrifty Home!

Date Cards

For date ideas check out these resources: 

10 Simple Ideas for Creating a Romantic Evening

Creating a romantic date night is just as much about creating the right atmosphere as it is about the food and gifts. So here are some ideas to help  you set the mood.

1. Create a menu and put it on the table to make you feel like you are at a nice restaurant.

2. Set the table ahead of time and if you have nicer dishes, use them.

3. Have a special drink to accompany your meal or dessert. An inexpensive bottle of wine or sparkling juice helps make it feel more romantic.

4. Decorate your table. I have some colored stones and fake red rose petals from my wedding that I like to get out for special occasions.

5. Create a little ambiance by lighting some candles. Another idea is to use twinkle lights. You can hang them from the curtains or attach the wires on small hooks by the ceiling. You can even lay them out on the floor somewhere.

6. Dress in something nice and put on your best jewelry. You don’t have to go out to look nice.

7. Play some soft romantic music. Pick something like smooth jazz or relaxing piano music. 

8. After dinner, slow dance with each other.

9. Feed each other dessert.

10. Sit together while sipping on some coffee, tea or maybe even a little wine and reminisce about your relationship. Dream together about the future too.

Join Me For a Challenge!

One of my goals for 2016 is to focus more on my husband, to have more fun in our marriage, and to make him feel cherished and loved! Together with two of my very favorite bloggers, we will be going through a marriage challenge February 8-March 8th!Get all the details & join in here!

Join our 30 day challenge!!

Are you ready to take some time to focus on your marriage but you don’t know where to start? Do you wish you and your husband spent more time talking, laughing, and having fun together? Three Christian bloggers have come together to give you the ultimate bundle to help you strengthen your marriage! Check out the bundle today (and join our optional Facebook challenge group)!

P.S. We are offering a 100% money back guarantee in case the bundle isn’t what you expected or wasn’t helpful. Now you literally have no reason not to go check it out!


Get instant free access to my Finding Joy in Your Home video course.

  • Do you want to discover more joy, peace, & tranquility within your home?
  • Do you feel overwhelmed and like your house is out of control?
  • Join my free course and learn the essential habits for Christian homemakers