Make these foods to help make your at-home date night extra special this year.
Chocolate-Covered Prosecco Strawberries

Welcome to Thrifty. A weekly column where assistant nutrition editor and registered dietitian, Jessica Ball, keeps it real on how to grocery shop on a budget, make healthy meals for one or two, and make earth-friendly choices without overhauling your entire life.

Like a lot of things, your Valentine's Day might look a little different than others this year. This year, I am craving low-maintenance. My boyfriend and I will be hunkered down with a nice bottle of wine and lots of homemade treats that will be enjoyed in sweatpants. No makeup, no jewelry. And honestly, I'm here for it. Also, to be clear, you don't need a significant other (or even another person) to enjoy chocolate-covered foods with. Even if it's with housemates, friends or solo, these foods will make February 14th feel special without breaking the bank or taking the whole day to make. 

5 Valentine's Day Foods You Should Be Making, Not Buying

Reminisce over how you and someone special have made it through the craziest year we've had with these homemade Valentine's treats. 

1. Chocolate-Covered Strawberries

This Valentine's Day classic is every bit as delicious as it is cliché. Ordering chocolate-dipped strawberries from the store can get expensive and it can be hard to make sure the strawberries are fresh and flavorful. Luckily for us, this treat is surprisingly easy to make at home. Simply melt chocolate, swirl the berries in it and you're done. Add extra flair by soaking the strawberries in prosecco beforehand. 

Winter Charcuterie Board

2.  Cheese Plate

A cheese plate is an elegant touch to any evening, Valentine's Day included. It is perfect for munching while you sip on something and slowly make dinner. Plus, it helps take the edge off so nobody gets hangry, which (if you're like me) could derail a romantic night. It makes it feel like you're out at a fancy restaurant and makes the evening feel like more of an event. Here are some of our favorite easy charcuterie board ideas for inspiration. 

3. Surf And/Or Turf

Bring an expensive meal out home for a fraction of the price. Even if the ingredients, like filet mignon or lobster, are more expensive than what you would usually buy for dinner, it will be significantly less pricey than dining out or getting takeout. You can get exactly the cut, size and flavor combos you want as well. If you don't see what you are looking for in the meat section, ask the butcher for help. They may even have cooking tips to help you get the most delicious outcome. Our Lobster-Topped Tenderloin with Parmesan Brussels Sprouts is an impressive, mouth-watering main. If you really want to go big, order a lobster tail bouquet for your loved one and cook up the tails together. 

Espresso Martini
Credit: Amy Traynor

4. Cocktails 

There are several upsides to being your own bartender: you won't have to wait in line, drinks won't be aggressively priced, and it's easier to customize your drink. Mix up a mocktail to mitigate any unwanted symptoms the next day, too. We have ample "romantic" cocktails like our Blood Orange, Gin & Prosecco Cocktail (great for if you have leftovers from the strawberries) and the iconic Espresso Martini. Or just have a solo night with Champagne, a good book and fuzzy slippers. That works too. 

5. Tarts and Truffles  

I am not a dessert baker per say, but for special occasions, I am pretty motivated to go all-out. If you want to try something new this V-day, make your own special dessert. Brighten up your desserts with a fruit-forward tart, or add richness to the night with velvety truffles. Recipes like Almond & Pear Rose Tarts, Lemon Meringue Tart for Two and Dark Chocolate Truffles are surprisingly simple while still looking fancy and tasting decadent. 

Bottom Line 

There is no wrong way to celebrate Valentine's Day, this year or ever. Whether you are spending time with someone you love, close friends or solo, these foods will help you have an elegant evening on a budget. With a little time and planning, you can create your own custom menu to make the night memorable.