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Feb 9, 2009 08:52 AM

Dead Broke for Valentine's Day

Every year I usually like to make a nice dinner for my husband and I. Usually it's surf and turf of some sort, but it always involves a nice piece of beef. This year, well this week actually, I'm so broke it's not even funny. I would still like to prepare a nice meal, but I can probably only spend about $20. I keep a well stocked pantry and vegetable bin if that helps. Any cheapo ideas?

If all else fails, I guess I can order Chinese take-out!

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  1. You can make home made pizza for under $20. Or, make pasta and make a carbonara. My husband usually wants meat but he loves home made pizza or a carbonara.

    1 Reply
    1. re: chowser

      Great ideas, unfortunately we're having homemade pizza tonight. I like to keep the pizza down to once a week :) Carbonara is definitely an option.

    2. If you're "so broke" you should not be ordering take out...

      You can still do a surf and turf style dinner, just use cheaper ingredients. Forget the filet mignon and go with a pork tenderloin or even something like country style pork ribs. The surf could be shrimp. Call it low country BBQ surf & turf. Cook the ribs and shrimp with BBQ sauce on the grill.

      4 Replies
      1. re: HaagenDazs

        I would suggest making some sort of pasta or rice dish that includes shrimp. Shrimp almost always goes on sale for Valentines Day. You could buy about 1/3 to 1/2 lb shrimp and use it in some sort of pasta or risotto dish. Or also buy some chicken thighs and sausage, and make a paella.

          1. re: masha

            i was thinking risotto as well! i wanted to add - why not a bone marrow risotto? this, imo, adds some bang for your buck - gives it that "rich" feel without spending a ton. add a simple vegetable and a decadent dessert (maybe tiramisu?) and me thinks you're in business.

          2. re: HaagenDazs

            Good lookin' out on the surf and turf. Sounds yummy.

          3. We made individual beef Wellingtons for New Year's and they were surprisingly easy and came out great. You don't need a lot of meat, and we didn't use pate and it came out fine. We used the Joy of Cooking recipe.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Pia

              This has been on my nice supper "to-do" list for a long time now..I'm not sure the filet will fit in my meager budget though. I'll have to do some comparison shopping :)

            2. I like red dishes on Valentines day. How about a tomato soup? What about a beef stew with a heart decorated pastry crust? Think slow cooked dishes that use inexpensive cuts of meat. You could also have roasted vegetable like onions and carrots. Most men like creamed spinach. That could take frozen spinach and a small package of cream cheese. A flaming dessert, some version of bananas foster with ice cream. You could freeze the ice cream in a heart shape.

              You could make the meal about presentation and atmosphere. Dress up. Have at least one item heart shaped. A homemade card or hidden note or poem. Candles and romantic lighting. A beautiful table. Instead of flowers, go outside and pick some greenery or branches.

              1. Two ideas:
                Buy a cheap roast - eye of round, rump, something like that. I got one for about $10 yesterday. Sear it all over, put it in a low oven (250) until it reaches 110, then crank up the oven to 500 and let the roast roast until it reaches 130. Put a couple potatoes in to bake while the roast cooks, and saute some spinach while it rests. As an added bonus, you'll have leftovers for days, and you might be able to get some surf and still fit within your $20.

                Idea #2, which is super cheap, is to make gnocchi. Super cheap - just potatoes and eggs. Even with sauce (pesto or tomato) and a salad, you should be able to do a nice meal for $10. It's a good "it's the thought that counts" option.

                3 Replies
                1. re: cyberroo

                  Mmm..we love gnocchi. I've never made them though. Can you suggest a good recipe?

                  1. re: krisrishere

                    I use this recipe to make gnocchi (except I substitute potato starch for the flour) -- comes out amazingly light:


                    1. re: krisrishere

                      If you do gnocchi, you could do a sweet potato gnocchi and a small ham--it's so good together and leftovers are great. On the risotto idea, you could braise short ribs, very inexpensive and serve with the risotto. Easily under $20.