Cheap Date Night Foods for Romance on a Budget

Look, I get it: Dating? In this economy? Some of us still have student loans to pay! We can barely afford the gas money to get to the restaurant, nevermind the bill. Luckily, romance does not live and die at a fancy bistro—there’s something undeniably charming and cozy about staying in for date night. If you’re trying to woo someone on a budget, congratulations, you’ve come to the right place. So let’s all take a breath, remember to text back our crush and/or significant other, and learn how to prepare some cheap date night ideas at home. 

Vigo Red Beans & Rice

We’re taking notes from Jordan Myrick, who ranked the best store bought cajun rice dishes and found the best red beans and rice in the process. Rice and beans make the ultimate cheap and filling dish, but these don’t feel cheap. As Jordan noted, you don’t need to add a single thing to this to make a great cheap date night dinner. But if you really want to impress, add some andouille and a side of buttered French bread and serve it at a candlelit table. Really, you should be serving all of these cheap date night foods at a candlelit table. Candles are cheap. Go buy some. Now. —Vinz Karl 

Betty Crocker Creamy Butter Mashed Potatoes

At a dollar a packet, you should be stocking up on this cheap date night food. When the Sporked team went searching for the best instant mashed potatoes, Betty Crocker’s Creamy Butter Mashed Potatoes completely blew the competition out of the water. According to managing editor Gwynedd Stuart, these are packed with flavor and honestly taste better than most homemade mashed potatoes. Pair them with a cheap steak and file this under one of the best date night food ideas. —Vinz Karl

Read our ranking of the best instant mashed potatoes

Celentano Cheese Ravioli

There’s nothing cheap about Celentano’s cheese ravioli besides the price. Jordan said it best: “Celentano’s cheese ravioli are absolutely sensational. The filling is herby and creamy. The pasta is the perfect thickness. The ravioli are huge. You could eat these totally plain and be satisfied.” Pair these with an affordable marinara sauce and a loaf of frozen garlic bread, and save your paycheck for that romantic trip to Italy (or, you know, rent) —Vinz Karl

Read our ranking of the best cheese ravioli

Sofia Blanc de Blancs

I can’t lie to you: Canned alcoholic beverages might not be the move here. I know we’re talking cheap date night ideas, but if you’re going to splurge on anything, a decent champagne or good bottle of white will always impress. That said, if splurging simply isn’t an option—or maybe the whole schtick of your date night is that every item must be under $15—the Sofia Blanc de Blancs canned champagne is an excellent choice. It’s light, citrusy, dazzles the tongue with tiny bubbles, and even comes with a cute straw so you won’t mess up your lipstick. (There’s only one way we like to mess up our lipstick, and champagne ain’t it.) —Ariana Losch

Read our ranking of the best champagne in a can

Specially Selected Dulce de Leche 

Specially Selected Dulce de Leche is our favorite Aldi ice cream and the obvious dessert choice to go with our cheap date night ideas. Share a spoon and eat this right out of the tub, or truss it up with some hot fudge and serve it in a pair of nice bowls. (You have some nice bowls, don’t you? Don’t you??) —Ariana Losch

From the best Aldi Ice Cream 

Trader Joe’s Organic Hot Cocoa Mix

This was #2 on our list of the best hot cocoa mixes, but we’re recommending it as a cheap date night idea because Trader Joe’s is simply cuter than Nestle. No offense, Nestle, but a man that shops at Trader Joe’s is a green flag. The ladies can’t get enough of it (I would know, as a lady.) We even noted how aesthetically pleasing the TJ’s packaging was when we first tried it. The cocoa flavor is sweet but not too sweet, and tastes like real chocolate. And listen, there’s no better way to show someone you love them than with hot chocolate and a warm blanket. —Ariana Losch

Emmi Swiss Knight Fondue

What makes the act of dipping small morsels of food into molten cheese so sensual and romantic? Maybe it’s the shared experience of making dinner into an activity, the way it transforms your dining room into a cozy ski lodge, or the simple fact that people love cheese. But when it comes to cheap date night food ideas that feel fancy, fondue is one of the best. Emmi Swiss Knight Fondue is boozy, decadent, and most importantly, has a great cheese pull (it’s the little things in life, you guys). At $15, it’s not exactly the cheapest item on this list, but it is way cheaper than going to Melting Pot…or Switzerland. Pair it with sourdough bread and you’ll make out like a bandit. Literally. Just make sure your partner doesn’t have a dairy issue, though, or the night could take a turn for the worse. —Ariana Losch

Read our ranking of the best cheese fondue

About the Author

Sporked Staff

The Sporked Staff tastes everything and anything. They are obsessive about groceries and finding the best of any type of food or drink, from frozen fried shrimp to Dijon mustard to gummy candy. And they're always on a hunt for the best new products. When they aren't eating professionally, they're eating recreationally. And often they're browsing grocery store aisles, just for fun.

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