5 Frugal Ways to Create a Romantic Valentine's Day Dinner

Budget-conscious couples everywhere are searching for ideas to create the perfect romantic Valentine's Day dinner and not spend a fortune doing so. In this day and age of recession and lay-off fears at every corner, we're all feeling the punch and looking for ways to stretch our hard-earned buck. Read ahead for 5 ideas to create a Valentine's meal worthy of serving Dom Perignon, but on a paper-plate budget.

1. When creating your dinner menu, plan around your grocery store's weekly sales and specials. Either grab a circular from the store itself or visit mygrocerydeals.com to scout your store's deals and also compare to other markets in your area. Planning meals according to store sales and using coupons are a great (and easy) way to save even more money on your romantic dinner.

2. If you don't cook and still want a gourmet meal on a budget, check out some foodie sites on the Internet and score some great deals. A few to look at are www.igourmet.com, www.schwans.com and www.impromtugourmet.com. Check out the sales and clearance items, or order a variety of appetizers (which are usually cheaper than entrees) for a taste of the sites' most popular items. Soups are also a great way to fill up before the main meal and are usually inexpensive. Another idea to keep the tab down if you do utilize these sites is to pick up a bagged salad, a nice baguette and a frozen dessert at your local market. That way, all you will need to purchase is the appetizer and entree.

3. Don't forget the wine! If you and your love like to enjoy a bottle of wine or bubbly with your Valentine's dinner, don't worry about spending a fortune on one bottle of vino. Most markets carry a vast selection of white, red and roses under $20. Here are few to try that are very affordable and pair well with a variety of main dishes: 2005 Skillogalee Riesling (Australian) $9, 2008 Honig Sauvignon Blanc (Napa, California) $15, 2005 Estancia Cabernet Sauvignon (California) $18, 2008 Yellow Tail Shiraz (Australian) $7, Francis Coppola Sofia Rose (California) $15.99 and 2008 Muga Rose Rioja (Spain) $12.99.

4. Ask your sweetie what he or she wants you to cook for your special Valentine's dinner. It can be their all-time favorite meal like spaghetti and meatballs, meatloaf with mashed potatoes, steak and baked potato or even macaroni and cheese with hot dogs! Your Valentine's dinner doesn't have to be fancy. The most romantic thing you can do is to cook your loved one's most beloved foods for this most romantic holiday.

5. Create an enchanting table-scape to rival your romantic dinner menu. And, do it for (almost) free. The day before, or day of, your big Valentine's dinner, visit your local Dollar Tree, Dollar Store or Family Dollar store. Pick up a bouquet of red silk flowers, a crystal or plastic vase, votive candles, wine or champagne glasses, strands of pearls or gold beads for the flowers, and anything else that matches your decor or catches your fancy. On the big night, set your table with your finest china and silverware, place the flowers into the vase and decorate with the pearl or bead strands and get ready for romance!

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Valentine's Day was an attempt to replace the pagan holiday of Lupercalia, the celebration of fertility and purification, that was still celebrated through the 5th century in Rome. The Church can feel quite satisfied that the attempt has succeeded.

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The Society of American Florists reports that approximately 81% of men are unromantic on Valentine's Day ranking themselves as a seven or lower on a romantic scale of one to ten, forcing many women to be unhappy.

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