PLANNING DINNER DATE IDEAS ON A BUDGET IS EASIER THAN YOU THINK
Compiling a list of dinner date ideas that work with a tight budget is somewhat of a specialty of mine.
When it came to dating I didn’t mind going with the flow but at some point planning became important.
Most couples believe that a dinner date means getting dressed up and making reservations at a fancy restaurant.
Unfortunately, not everyone has the budget for such lavish date night dinners especially if you factor in a movie.
Relationships need attention whether you are dating, living together or are married with or without children.
Once you get married and even after you have kids trying to squeeze in a dinner date with your spouse can be a challenge.
Trust me, I know.
Dinner Date Ideas And Long-Distance Relationships
When Mrs. CBB and I were dating we had limited time together so every night was a romantic dinner date.
Most of our days were spent traveling and touring the United Kingdom and eating foods that she’s never had before.
It was a special time for us as it would be for any couple who is newly in love and want to explore the world together.
During the days we were not out and about I had to come up with dinner date ideas for both of us.
The cool part about our relationship was that we both loved to go grocery shopping.
As daft as it sounds we made our way to most of the grocery stores in the UK where I lived.
She was so excited to see the kinds of products that we had in the UK as well as the prices.
We had no idea that one day we’d have a successful finance blog in Canada but we both had the frugal mindset.
Money was tight for both of us as we had mortgages and bills we had to pay every month.
There was no budgeting for either of us which is a travesty as we should have tracked our money far better.
I had not dated in over 10 years so I needed to get back in the game which is not easy for anyone.
Cheap Romantic Dinner Date Ideas
Since we were in a long-distance relationship that meant that meal planning and date night planning had to be done beforehand.
Meal planning was for the nights we spent at my house as I was used to cooking for one, not two.
The dinner date ideas were for the traveling and exploring portion of her stay in the UK.
I had an agenda of what we would attempt to do for the two weeks she would visit including meals I would prepare.
If you guessed that I had a dinner date ideas menu plan and guide, you’re right.
Taking The Stress Out Of Dating
This was a stressful visit for me as I wanted to make sure that everything went smoothe when she was visiting.
A lady friend of mine who I confided in bought me a book from the pound store (Dollar Store) so I could make notes.
She told me that it was important to make sure that I included my girlfriend in creating dinner date ideas as well as plan some surprises.
Great, I thought.
That little book ended up being a life-saver for me because the last thing you want to be spending your time researching.
Printable Dating Dinner Ideas Planner
You can download the printable word document dating dinner ideas planner here.
What I ended up doing was creating a page for all of the places I wanted to take her for a date night or date day.
I even went as far as researching online to see what foods were available and pricing at the places we would visit.
There is no shortage of excursions in the UK since it is so big especially if you haven’t visited before.
Again, she was on board with me when it came to packing snacks for our day-trips which helped us save money.
On another page, I created a list of dinner date ideas we could prepare together at home, including the ingredients we needed to buy.
Back then I relied on cookbooks and If you saw my collection you’d probably laugh but that’s the way I was taught.
Unfortunately, I didn’t have much space in my kitchen and my refrigerator was the size of a beer fridge which meant shopping every other day.
I included British recipes in our staying-in dinner date ideas meal planning but also allowed her the option to choose what she wanted to prepare with me.
Stay Organized When You Date
Although Mrs. CBB and I did things off schedule when we were dating, for the most part, we had an agenda.
So in my little dating book I documented:
- Places to go visit in the UK that fit my finances (I paid for everything when she visited and when I visited her she paid for everything)
- Snacks to pack for traveling to keep our costs low
- Restaurants we could eat at along the way and average prices
- Romantic Dinner Date Ideas + Meal Planning Ingredient lists/Recipe when eating at home
For those of you who would rather document your dinner date ideas, I created a free printable date planner.
You can print it or simply fill it out and save it to your computer for reference when you need dinner date ideas.
Planning ahead is half the battle, although be prepared that he/she might have dietary restrictions that could flush your plans down the toilet.
If I did not know that and planned meals with carbs and starches I would have been out of luck.
It’s a good idea to talk about what you like to eat and places you’d love to visit and are all great conversation starters too.
Overall, after the first two week trip to the UK with many more to come, I felt I was better prepared for dating.
Below I have some of the dinner date ideas that we used while we were dating that kept costs low.
8 Frugal Dinner Date Ideas
Like Mary suggests below purchasing a cooler is a great idea for mini road-trips or excursions to save money.
We have a Coleman blue cooler which is one of those older style models that we take along with us today.
While we were dating in the UK I had a small cooler half the size of what we have now and packed snacks.
There was also a time when I took Mrs. CBB to the beach as one of my dinner date ideas was to watch the sunset.
1. Pack A Cooler
My dinner idea was cold foods so the menu had shrimp, salads, pita bread, cheeses, olives.
My motto is “have cooler will travel”. Hubby and I purchased our cooler in Halifax, NS when we were road tripping through NS, NB and PEI.
We have taken our little red friend on airlines in a hockey bag so that we have it at the other end.
We’ve taken that little gem all over North America with us and we always have it filled with amazing picnic possibilities for the park, a beach, a scenic pull-out or look-out…pretty much anywhere that the mood strikes and the tummy grumbles!
Date night for us is always tasty, somewhere other than at home and definitely inexpensive.
I try to put the focus on “date” and concentrate my attention on spending quality time with my hubby & feeding him some of his favorite treats.- Mary C.- Facebook
2. Breakfast For Dinner
Instead of opting for the expensive dinner at a restaurant we stayed home and made pancakes with maple syrup.
Mrs. CBB and I made pancakes and topped them with the Canadian maple syrup she brought me. So good.
I added some cooked sausages to go along with the pancakes and enjoyed breakfast for dinner at home and a movie.
I’m in the dating scene so I understand the need for cheap dates. Coffee shops, meet for dessert or breakfast instead of the whole meal, walks in the park, watch university-level sports.- Rhonda L. Facebook
3. Dinner At The Park
In the UK there is a park on every corner so naturally, I had planned a dinner at a park close to my house.
The idea was that we both prepare two pizzas with our favorite toppings and then pack them up.
It was so much fun watching the animals in the park while we ate our pizza.
After we finished we went for a stroll hand in hand and had some of the best conversations.
4. Local Pub Date Night Dinner
I often find in Canada that chain restaurants are often boring and serve the same kinds of foods.
Oh, and very expensive.
While Mrs. CBB was in the UK I wanted to take her to a proper British pub so she could have an authentic Sunday dinner.
We enjoyed roast beef with gravy, mashed potatoes, mixed vegetables and Yorkshire Pudding.
For dessert, we both had creamy rice pudding with whipped cream and toasted coconut on top.
I find going to a pub to be far more affordable than the chain restaurants and the food gives you that homemade vibe.
5. Cheap Convenience Food Dinner Date Ideas
Nothing screams British than good old-fashioned fish and chips where you get more fish than chips.
I had to take Mrs. CBB out to try fish and chips with curry and she loved it.
You don’t just get pieces of fish as we do in Canada, you get the whole fish which kind of amazed her.
On the side, she had curry sauce instead of the brown gravy she was used for dipping her fries and fish in.
There was a BIG NO for the mushy peas and I don’t blame her, yuck.
We sat on a picnic table to eat our dinner outside of the fish and chip shop and then went for a ride around exploring the village.
6. Dinner At Small Business Vendors
I’m a firm believer in supporting small businesses in your local area.
If you know of places where you live that offer snack ideas or foods that you’ve never tried then visit them.
Dinner date ideas don’t have to include a full menu.
Most of our shops in the village are outdoors as opposed to in a mall setting which makes it even more romantic I think.
Although she wasn’t a huge fan of the Scottish eggs she had the opportunity to try them.
In Canada, I find chip trucks and outdoor hot dog and sausage vendors on most street corners.
To be honest, food trucks are dominating the Canadian fast-food industry which opens up even more dinner date ideas for couples.
7. Date Night At The Mall
Both of us love shopping for deals and going to the mall is not something we do on a regular basis.
When planning our date night dinner ideas we incorporate mall shopping with the dim lighting and food court dinner.
It’s inexpensive and fast and it allows us up-close and personal time together without all of the dressing up and hassles of restaurants.
Plus, you don’t have to tip a waiter or waitress which saves even more money.
8. Visit Relatives
Visiting relatives for dinner is a sure-fire way to save money when you are dating.
Obviously, you might not want to visit your parents on a first date but rather down the road.
I know it’s not the most romantic of dinner date ideas but it’s most certainly frugal.
For dessert, my mum does make a delicious Victorian Sponge Cake that is hard to pass up.
After dinner at my parent’s house since they lived in a different city we would go for walks in the park.
In Canada, we tend to go to the beach or in the winter to coffee shops after a dinner date at the in-law’s house. (With our with-out our son).
9. Go To Costco
Haha, this is just a joke (not really since we’ve done it) but if you’re really pushing the dating budget hit up Costco around dinner time and eat up all the free samples that you can.
Before leaving enjoy a hotdog and pop for $1.50 and an ice-cream cone for dessert.
For under $10 you’ve got yourselves a dinner date that will be full of laughs.
Enjoy Your Date
Enjoy the time with your partner because once you get married and if you have kids dates can be far and few.
These days Mrs. CBB and I plan for one night a month where enjoy a dinner date at home then go out together.
We are big lovers of home-cooked meals and often find that eating in is far better than what you can get eating out.
We’ve been married for 12 years now so I guess I did something right while we were dating.
Discussion: What types of dinner date ideas or experiences do you have to share with us? Drop me a comment in the section below and I’ll be sure to respond.