Skip the Sitter and Celebrate Valentine’s Day With a Family Meal

It might just be the polar vortex that’s plaguing our pocket of the country, but I’m skipping the sitter this Valentine’s Day in favor of a family night at home with my husband and daughter. I love the idea of the three of us having a special meal together at home (though I understand that my finicky toddler will possibly not eat a morsel), and also appreciate that we will save a bundle of money.

Aside from the $15 an hour for the babysitter, dinners out on Valentine’s Day are total nightmares for the wallet. Expensive prix-fixe meals, hassled waitstaff and packed tables mean that service stinks, the food is cold, and by the time you get home you feel so fleeced that the last thing you feel like doing is slipping into something a little more comfortable (and by that I mean nothing).

So this year, my daughter and I are going to whip up a yummy dinner that’s simple, cozy, and totally delicious, light some candles and wait for dad to get home from work. Since they’re both my Valentines anyway, I can’t imagine spending it any other way. And since bedtime for the babe is around 8, there will plenty of evening left for the grownups to get cozy by candlelight–who knows what might happen?

A crowd-pleasing menu that’s relatively easy to prepare (especially if you’re involving your kids) with few ingredients and lots of flavor is the smartest route to take. Click through the slideshow above for inspiration for appetizers, mains and desserts that will make up a loveable feast for you and your fam.