The Easy Way to Eat In on Valentine’s Day

First off, the way Valentine’s Day works in our house is that it celebrated, planned, and executed by me as a gift to my husband. Some other holidays fall under his domain but Valentine’s Day is not one of them.

I hesitate to put this under the “cheap date” category since my actual spending on Publix groceries for Valentine’s Day dinner ($39) was about as much as the rest of my weekly grocery spending at Publix ($40). Yes, it’s the thought that counts—but sometimes splurging should happen too! Doing something extra special for your husband once a year, apart from Christmas and his birthday, should be at least cost time and maybe extra money.

Also I apologize for the lack of pictures. My camera battery was too low and I decided to leave it that way.

Despite this dinner having a higher bill than usual, it was a great value. I’m convinced that we couldn’t have enjoyed the same atmosphere and quality of food for the same price eating out. Not the mention the volume. We’re having leftovers for dinner tonight.

Anyway, on to how to save yourself work (or at least, the work you don’t like).
1. Go to your grocery store and buy fresh, prepared dinner stuff.
2. Spend the time you would have spent cooking from scratch to take a long shower, do your hair, and creating unusually nice atmosphere.
3. Enjoy a delicious dinner than was mostly prepared by someone else.

Here’s what I got: stuff flank steak from the butcher section of Publix, a round loaf of Italian bread from the bakery, fresh rosemary, asparagus, and a bag of salad, and olives, provolone, and salami (precut) from the deli, chocolate ready to melt in the cup.

What I did when I got home: seasoned the steak, seared it, and baked it. (Also set off the fire alarm.) Chopped the potatoes and tossed the potato cubes and asparagus with olive oil and roasted them. Brushed the top of the bread with olive oil, salt, rosemary, and garlic, and put it in the paper bag sprayed with water to warm in the oven. Warmed the chocolate, dipped the strawberries. Zested oranges and added olive oil and rosemary with the zest to the olives. Set aside to marinate a while longer. Did a little extra chopping for the salad before plating and dressing with bottled dressing.

Decorations: I set up our Ikea table and chairs in the living room, under an Ikea gauze curtain hung from the ceiling fan. (It was nicer than it sounds.) That’s where we had the olives and bread with dipping oil. Then we moved to the table for the dinner part. The steak was great, the salad was awesome, the veggies were roasted and yummy. Can’t wait for those leftovers!

The whole thing was a huge success: the dinner invitation taped to the front door, the big banner hung up in front of the garage proclaiming “You Da Man!” in bold letters. The lighting and tablescapes, complete with floating candles and faux rose petals. Tons of romance and not tons of dinner effort. That’s what I call a happy Valentine’s Day.

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