There are a lot of special occasions to celebrate in a relationship. Birthdays, Valentine’s Day, Anniversaries, Christmas, and possibly Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. When go dine out at a restaurant for these meals, you can easily end up spending $100 or more for two people.
Seven of these meals every year could be costing your family $700 – $1,400 per year! My wife and I did this for many years, but we eventually reached a point where it felt more like a waste of money. We’ll still eat out a few times a year. However, we usually skip restaurants for special occasions and holidays. Instead, we opt to buy groceries and cook dinner at home. There are actually numerous benefits to this approach that I’ll be discussing in this post.
Cooking vs Dining Out
Most people usually enjoy dining out more than cooking at home. The food usually tastes better, and other people do the cooking and cleaning for you. However, there can also be a lot of downsides to restaurants too.
When you want to eat out for a holiday that others share, you end up dealing with crowds and potentially long waiting times to get a table. This often results in slow service and sub-par food. You keep doing it year after year because you feel obligated to your significant other or spouse, but there’s a good chance they feel the same way. Try to talk with them about it so you can both be on the same page.
Making your own food is simply cheaper. When you know how to cook, you can actually make much better tasting food at home than you’ll get served in a restaurant. There are even more benefits that I’ll be talking about below.
Do you appreciate someone else paying for a restaurant or cooking you a meal more? Anyone can hand money over to someone else, but actually doing the shopping and preparation yourself can really show someone else how much you care. It can be hard work to make a really nice dinner at home. My wife recognizes this and is thankful when I do it for her. The same is true when she does it for me.
The bottom line is that your significant other should appreciate the effort of a home cooked meal instead of paying a restaurant to do the work for you. You can also make it a much more personal experience by creating an environment and ambiance for dinner. With some candles, dim lights, flowers and music, you can set a mood that you simply won’t get in any restaurant, even the ones that are trying to be romantic.
You probably can’t remember many past birthdays where you were treated to dinner, but I bet you can remember really amazing home cooked meals. There’s something about them that makes them stick in our memory long-term, especially when the rest of the night is memorable too.
No matter how much you and your significant other love each other, it doesn’t make money appear out of thin air. When you can’t afford $100 for fancy dinner, it doesn’t mean you don’t love them or make you a bad person in any way. That’s just a fact of life sometimes – you don’t always have the money to do the things you really want to do.
A lack of money doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice a special occasion to save cash though. You can still have a great time and a wonderful meal without breaking the bank. In fact, if you do it right, you can actually enjoy it even more than you would an expensive meal.
While it wasn’t for a holiday or birthday, my most memorable meal with my wife was cooking Pop-Tarts on a baking pan over coals in our wood burning fireplace. It was early on in our marriage when we were really broke. An ice storm knocked out the power for four days, and anyone we knew was out of town. We had no choice but to tough it out at home with no power and frigid temperatures. That fireplace became our kitchen and our heater for the next four days, and I’ll remember it forever with shockingly fond memories. The best and most meaningful meals don’t have to cost much at all.
Depending on how much money you have available to budget for this meal and the types of food you like to eat, it can really vary what you’ll prepare for a special meal. I have some suggestions for you, but these are really based on my personal preferences and tastes.
My favorite cheap meal is homemade fried chicken (boneless) and homemade mashed potatoes with a veggie. Cut up chicken breasts into smaller pieces, bread and fry in a pan or deep fryer. Potatoes are washed, peeled, boiled, mashed and flavored. It’s fairly simple and can often be made for $20 or less, but I would take this meal over spending $150 at a fancy steak house any day (and I LOVE steak).
Other favorites of mine that cost more include steamed snow crab legs with corn on the cob or a Chef Ramsay style filet mignon. I linked that to a YouTube video with Ramsay where he tells you his recipe and shows you how to cook it. I don’t make the gremolata with it – just the steak and the sauce. The sauce is absolutely amazing. I make this for my wife on special occasions and even make it for my son, who actually licks the plate clean of the sauce after eating the steak.
Cook for Special Occasions
With all of this information combined, you can see why it’s often better to cook at home for a special occasions such as a Birthday, but especially for Holidays to avoid crowds. You’ll save money, you can eat much better food, and you can create a much more memorable and romantic experience for both of you.