When was the last time you hosted a romantic date night dinner for your partner? Instead of pulling those less-than-appetizing leftovers out of the freezer, you can spice up both your plate and your love life without even leaving the house—and cook up your appetites for each other in the process.
As it turns out, making this extravagant U-turn isn’t as hard as it sounds (and easier, with steps to guide you through the process).
Clear Your Schedule
Before diving into the specifics of recipes, flavors, and meal planning, you should set the stage for a romantic dinner by making sure the two of you are alone. If you have kids, now is a good time to use babysitting (or if your roommate is always at home, let them know you need some privacy).
Once you’ve confirmed the date for the romantic evening, it’s time to plan the menu. Keep in mind the seasonality of fresh ingredients, which can affect how easily you can get the items you need from the list. Other things to consider include the dietary preferences and limitations of your interlocutor, such as someone who prefers a plant-based diet or who is allergic to nuts.
Think about how you would like to present each dish and make sure you have any special cooking tools, garnishes and utensils you might need. It’s also a good idea to make a list of decor items ahead of time (such as fresh flowers or a new tablecloth). When it comes to table setting, you can go for a practical stylish display case or make it more formal.
The Day Before
To make the date night go smoother, prepare as much of the planned menu as possible the day before dinner. Take out serving dishes, cooking utensils, and cutting boards, and get ready to set up your cooking station.
Start chopping vegetables and portioning them out to store in the fridge overnight. It’s also helpful to measure out the spices or other ingredients, and locate the sauces and garnishments needed for the finished dish. If the main course is a protein, it’s also important to season or marinate it early to bring the most flavor out when it’s cooked.
If you’re feeling nervous about cooking the meal, it’s okay to make it easy. Pick up cooked shrimp or scallops to cut down on preparation, or buy the dessert to save time. Being together is what matters, so even if the meal isn’t worthy of a five-star restaurant, having a romantic evening with your partner will still be a fun way to connect.
The Day Of
It’s time to let all of that anticipation and planning come to light. Start by setting up the table and any décor, and ensure that linens, silverware, wine glasses, and candles are set properly.
If the dessert is still in the fridge, pull it out to let it reach room temperature (depending on the recipe) before it’s time to eat. When you start cooking the main course, be sure to double-check the recipe instructions and avoid missing any important steps. Go through the list of spices, seasonings, and any additional garnishments to get the flavor just right.
All that’s left to do is turn on the tunes, enjoy the meal, and bask in each other’s company—if you’re enjoying each other, a romantic night at home beats dining at a restaurant every time.