Let me start this post by disclaiming how much I love love. However, in my opinion, Valentine’s Day is up there with New Years… two of the most ludicrous excuses of a holiday. If you’re single, Valentine’s Day kinda feels like a personal attack by shoving everyone’s relationship, happiness, and love in your face. If you have a significant others, it poses this weird stress that I relate to New Years in the sense of making sure you have the “perfect” night. Luckily for us New Yorker’s, we have all the restaurants in the world to capitalize on this by creating pre-fixed menus at ridiculous price tags. Unless you plan on signing a pretty hefty check, I suggest taking this holiday to the four walls of your own home. In the five years Joe and I have lived in NYC, we have successfully avoided this mayhem by creating delicious at-home Valentine’s Day meals in our kitchen.
That’s not to say these have all been perfect. Hell, two years I had a weird out of body emotional breakdown over the fact that he brought me chocolates home instead of flowers (which, if you know me, makes a whole lot of sense, but for some reason served as the straw that broke my emotional ready to blow back that day). See what I mean – silly expectations around a commercial Hallmark holiday causing weird ish to go down! This may sound like the most critical Valentine’s Day post you’ve ever read, which is ironic because I absolutely love love, but it’s not meant to be. What I’m trying to do here is take this hype and obsession over one day in the middle of February that we chose to put on a pedestal. If you have someone in your life, you don’t need the white tablecloth or the fancy champagne or the roses to celebrate one another. Your love should be at the forefront every day. And if you don’t have someone, this day shouldn’t make you feel any “less than”. Don’t ever let society make you feel any type of way, especially sad. Hell, you get to celebrate too! Celebrate your love for yourself, or a close friend, with a fun night in and a delicious meal.
Since we’re all trying to impress whoever is coming over for dinner, I’ve created two recipes to please everyone. The first, Valentine’s Day Dinner on a Budget, is for those of us who are really trying to save while still trying to celebrate. Thanks to a trip to Trader Joe’s, this meal will cost you just ~$15 per person (assuming you already have the pantry staples). Hell, that’s comparable to Chipotle pick-up. I’d say that’s a Valentine’s Day win. The second, Valentine’s Day Dinner to Impress, is for those with a larger budget really trying to go all out and compare to the pre-fixed restaurant menus out there. This meal comes in at a steeper ~$40 per person, but will be sure to wow whoever you are feeding while still comparing to the price of a measly NYC cocktail and dessert had you gone out to eat. No matter which meal you choose, though, make sure you finish your meal with this perfect Valentine’s Day Dessert: chocolate covered strawberry almond butter cups.