Valentine’s Day is supposed to create an opportunity to celebrate love, so why has the day become synonymous with spending a ton of money at a restaurant? If you ask me, Valentine’s Day is the worst day to go out to eat! It’s crowded, hard to get a good reservation, and super expensive. Not to mention that February 14th is way too soon to give up your New Year’s Resolutions! This year, you can have it all: a super romantic Valentine’s dinner that doesn’t break the calorie bank.
Instead of going out to eat, choose to stay in and cook for your loved one instead. If you think it will bring you closer, you can even try cooking the meal together! Working together to create a beautiful meal might really make the those sparks fly (not to mention how the heat of the kitchen has the ability to put everyone in the right mood).
We pulled together our favorite, most romantic recipes to help you create four-course dinner that will set this year apart. Your significant other won’t even know these recipes happen to be healthy! So keep your resolutions, get rid of your guilt, and cook a romantic Valentine’s dinner that doesn’t break the calorie bank.
Start things off with a snack or appetizer to munch on while you cook. Because we all know that becoming hangry is the best way to ruin everyone’s good mood! We’d recommend making something ahead of time that can be warmed up when the time is right. Better yet, choose something that tastes good cold or at room temperature. That allows you to focus on the other courses.
Things like these Mushroom Parmesan Bites or Avocado Stuffed Deviled Eggs are super easy to make ahead of time. They’re also bite-sized snacks, which keeps things light and easy while you’re cooking. If you’re looking for a festive appetizer, we’d definitely recommend the appropriately colored Roasted Beet and Hazelnut Vegetable Dip or Beet Chips with Tzatziki Dipping Sauce.
You could also pick up a few oysters at the seafood market and slurp them down before dinner. They’re an excellent low-calorie, high-protein appetizer that’s well-known for being served on Valentine’s Day.
Most fancy restaurants will start the meal off with a light salad. It’s a great way to engage your palate and get ready for the heavier main course that’s soon to come. Plus, there are a lot of great Valentine’s-themed ingredients you can put on that salad!
The first thing that comes to mind is strawberries, which would make this Strawberry, Avocado, and Spinach Salad absolutely perfect. It has all the right colors and flavors to kick-off your romantic Valentine’s dinner that doesn’t break the calorie bank. If you’re looking for something simpler and easier to pull together, we’d recommend Connie and Ted’s Celebrity Salad which features tomatoes and basil. Or, if you were loving the pink-colored beets from the appetizer section, give this Easy Roasted Beet and Pecan Salad a try.
You definitely want to consider a few things when choosing a main course for your romantic Valentine’s dinner that doesn’t break the calorie bank. First, you don’t want it to be heavy. You’re not supposed to fall asleep right after dinner! Stay away from any (ahem) gas-producing ingredients, like broccoli or beans. You might also want to avoid bad-breath-causing onions and garlic. Finally, you don’t want to be stuck in the kitchen doing a mountain of dishes, so keep it simple!
We have a ton of really elegant main dishes to choose from. If you have a slow cooker, you could make things really easy and serve this Two Serving Healthy Honey Chicken and Vegetables dish. Talk about an easy cleanup: no leftovers, and you only have to clean the Crock Pot!
Any kind of one-pot dish is always good for clean-up, like this vegetarian One Pot Zucchini and Mushroom Spaghetti or a quick-and-easy dish like our Steamed Salmon with Sweet Ginger Soy Glaze. We also love the idea of whipping up these Squash Gnocchi with Sage Butter Sauce or a Traditional Ratatouille Recipe because they seem fancy (but they’re actually pretty easy to pull off). You could also choose to simply cook a steak or pork chop and serve it along with one of our healthy side dishes.
Of course, Valentines Day isn’t complete without dessert. Don’t worry: You won’t have to break your diet plan for this course! Over the years, we’ve created a ton of skinnied-up desserts to choose from. You’ll just need to keep portion control in mind as you make your way to the dessert course.
The ability to make dessert ahead of time will definitely save you some stress on Valentine’s Day. We love using the slow cooker to make simple versions of restaurant classics, like this Slow Cooker Bananas Foster. If chocolate and strawberries is on your mind, give these Vegan Chocolate Strawberry Coconut Butter Cups a try. Or get your camera out and get ready to snap a photo of the Instagram-worthy Chocolate Hazelnut and Berry Puff Pastry Tart.
If keeping things simple is more your style, give our vegan 3-Ingredient Banana Pudding Ice Cream a shot.
As you can see, there are a thousand choices for cooking a perfect romantic Valentine’s dinner that doesn’t break the calorie bank. Instead of stressing over restaurant food choices, prepare a meal at home instead! Check out our meal planning archives if you still need more inspiration.