Frugal February continues in our month long series about eating good and saving money. In our day to day life, have been focusing on eating dinner at home more often, and making sure we take our lunches to work. Valentine’s day could put quite a dent in a budget, if you are not careful! Valentine’s day is on a Thursday this year, which happens to be our day off, that means we have the whole day together. However, we do not have a ton of money to be frivolous and financially reckless, so we will probably spend the day together, probably watching movies and talking about our future. The last two years, when it came time to celebrate Valentine’s day, we splurged on really good steak from a local butcher, fresh & locally grown produce, and some sort of potatoes…yes, I know potatoes are produce, but a meal with steak is not complete without potatoes, and deserves a special mention. This year on the other hand, the budget is tighter, and our goals are bigger than ever before. However, budget or no budget, we love good food, and our best date nights have been in our own kitchen. This year, we are both working our side gigs on our days off, so we made our steak dinner a little early, it wasn’t intentional, but sometimes you find an deal too good to pass up! About a week ago, we were doing our shopping at the local King Soopers, when we decided to have our Valentine’s day dinner a little early. In the meat section, there is always an end cap with their sale items, and on this trip they had New York strip steak on sale. We got 2 steaks for right around $11. We also got a bag of baby potatoes for $2.99, and a few zucchini for about $2, so for right around $16, we had a delicious dinner, filled with great conversation and lots of love.
This weeks post isn’t about how to make a romantic dinner, but rather about how to shop for a romantic dinner for two. I have always been a frugal shopper, and the one thing I have learned, especially in the past 5 years, is that cheap and quality are not mutually exclusive. If you know how to shop, and know how much you can spend, you can make a beautiful dinner that tastes as good as it looks. When shopping the grocery store on a budget, I always make a list of what we want to cook for the next week. I go through the weekly ad to find the deals, however, there are more deals in the store. What we put on the list isn’t necessarily what we end up buying. We start our shopping trips by getting the things that are non-negotiable, the things we have to have, like toilet paper and toothpaste. Our next stop is the meat department, in every store they have designated places that hold the specials, normally end caps, not on the back wall. Once we know what the proteins will be for the week, we can move on to the sides and veggies. I always look at the name brand side dishes on sale, and then look for the store brand version of the same dish, because the store brand will (almost always) be cheaper. In our house, we always have potatoes, and we also do a lot of zucchini and asparagus. Stock up when you can, for instance, we went to the store last night, and they had some pot roast on sale, we got a decent size one for less than $7, got home and put it in the freezer.
When you know how to shop the ad, rather than just a premade shopping list, you can come up with some excellent meals that has better quality and tastes better than anything you can get from a drive-thru!
Side note…if you want a little history on Valentine’s day…