17 Cheap Date Night Foods Better Than Alternatives at Expensive Restaurants

Heading out to a restaurant is a treat, but creating your own at-home date nights can be more enjoyable as well as save you money. With these 17 ideas, you can host your very own themed night that you can completely personalize to your and your partner’s tastes.

Homemade Pizza Night

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Making pizza at home can cost as little as $2–$3 per pizza, depending on the toppings you use. You can put together your own dough with simple ingredients such as yeast, flour, water, and olive oil, or you can buy pre-prepared bases. Delish recommends making all your components ahead of time to make it easy to put the pizzas together.

DIY Sushi Rolls

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This one is a date night activity as well as the food! Gather your ingredients, such as rice, seaweed, cucumber, avocado, smoked salmon, and tuna, and then have fun together experimenting with different sushi rolls. You can customize them with your own favorite flavors, and it’ll be a lot cheaper than in a restaurant.

Pasta from Scratch

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With just a few simple ingredients, you can prepare the freshest pasta in no time. Mix together your flour and eggs, then knead it before experimenting by rolling or shaping it as you like. You could even try a few different shapes. It cooks in just minutes, and you can pair it with a simple sauce such as pesto or alfredo.

Tapas Evening

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If you’re looking for a casual date night, tapas can be a great option, because you’ll be able to mix and match the dishes to match both of your tastes. Little Spain suggests you “pick a handful of tapas that provide a variety of textures, flavors, and time commitments. Mix cold and warm, meat and vegetable, and prepare-ahead and last-minute.”

Cozy Soup and Bread Night

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Comforting homemade soups such as tomato and basil or chicken noodle soup can be easily made for under $5 at home. Try to choose a recipe that uses seasonal ingredients, and add spices and fresh herbs for lots of flavor. Pair with homemade crusty bread or fresh bread from the store.

Gourmet Burger Bar

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Creating an at-home burger bar is a fun way to mix and match flavors and can cost as little as $3 per burger. You could consider making your own burger patties from ground meat and seasonings, and The Spruce Eats recommends you include a variety of buns, condiments, toppings, and sides.

Pack a Picnic

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Perfect for a sunny day at the beach or in the park, packing a picnic means you can choose your favorite items and have a range of different flavors. Include deli meats, cheeses, fruits, and crackers alongside a nice drink. If the weather’s not good, lay blankets and cushions out in your living room for an indoor feast.


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If you love going out for Asian cuisine, try making stir-fry at home. You can use inexpensive ingredients such as chicken, beef strips, or tofu with mixed vegetables, depending on your favorite flavors. Add spices and herbs alongside sauces such as soy sauce and sesame oil.

Curry Night

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The key to a good homemade curry is using a range of spices and herbs, such as turmeric, cumin, and coriander. Making it yourself means you can easily tailor the spice level as well as choose your favorite ingredients, such as chicken, shrimp, vegetables, or tofu.

Classic Breakfast for Dinner

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Breakfast items are particularly cheap, so putting together things like eggs, bacon, and pancakes can be a fun and affordable date night. Add some fun by creating a breakfast buffet with both of your favorite dishes, sides, and condiments, then serve with fresh juice.

Mexican Taco Night

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Food.com says, “Delicious tacos require a variety of options and toppings and a great taco bar is no exception.” Set up the bar with ground beef, lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, and tortillas. Make sure to season the beef well, and you can also add toppings such as black beans, rice, or sautéed vegetables.

Vegetarian Delight

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Vegetarian meals are often the cheapest to put together, as plant-based proteins such as lentils or beans are so affordable. Pair chickpeas or lentils with your favorite vegetables in a curry, stew, or salad for a hearty and well-balanced date night meal. Don’t forget to garnish with fresh herbs for added flavor.

Seafood Feast

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Buying fish and shellfish in the store to cook at home can be considerably more affordable than seafood restaurants. Choose a simple dish such as garlic lemon shrimp, or baked salmon with herbs. Then serve with garlic bread and a fresh salad.


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Having a BBQ is a fun date night activity that encourages you to get outside together. Grab a few different things to cook up, including sausages, burgers, and marinated chicken wings, then serve with coleslaw, potato salad, and corn on the cob.


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Cheese or chocolate, a fondue can be made to suit anyone’s tastes. For cheese fondue, mix Swiss cheese and Gruyere and serve with bread cubes and new potatoes. For the chocolate version, mix dark chocolate with cream and dip in marshmallows, strawberries, and apple slices.


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Crêpes can be made with just a few simple ingredients like flour, eggs, milk, and butter, meaning they cost very little to make. Once you’ve made the batter, you’ll want to add a small amount to the pan to create paper-thin crêpes. Then top with your favorite fillings.

Ice Cream

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Ice cream is considerably more cost-effective at the store, or to make it even cheaper, you could make it yourself. Put together a fun station with a few different ice cream flavors, sprinkles, chocolate chips, sauces, and sliced fruits to create your own personalized sundaes.

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