Food & Drink

Valentine's Dinner Stress: 4 Things Not To Worry About

How to plan your meal, cook it and try to enjoy it all at the same time.

Congratulations! You're our favorite kind of person! You've decided to cook Valentine's Day dinner at home, instead of being one of the millions of couples who push the limits of enjoying an intimate dinner surrounded by hundreds of other people in a restaurant full of frazzled servers. We're really, really proud of you. Now you have to plan your meal, cook it and try to enjoy it all at the same time.

Cooking a romantic meal for someone you love can bring about an extra special kind of anxiety. You want it to be impressive, you want it to be fancier than normal, and most importantly, you want them to enjoy it and for that enjoyment to reinforce their love for you and the things you do. Deep breaths. Let's remember the most important thing about cooking any special occasion meal, from Thanksgiving to Valentine's Day: it's just dinner. If you've decided to take on cooking this meal, we're sure you've cooked at least a few edible dinners before. You're going to do it again, if you promise to breathe. Here are some other things we want you to stop worrying about when you cook dinner for Valentine's Day:

  • Pulling Out All The Stops: Just because it's a special occasion, doesn't mean it has to be complicated or completely over the top. Oysters? Caviar? Truffles? Soufflés? Baked Alaska? Yeah, they're lovely, but they're also very expensive and a lot of work. Just because it's a special occasion doesn't mean that you should be pressured to turn out a Michelin-star-worthy dinner. What you eat on Valentine's Day should reflect what you and your dinner companion(s) love to eat best. If that's tortellini en brodo, you toss some tortellini into some soup and feel great about it. If it's grilled cheese and tomato soup, you make the best damned grilled cheese of your life. Only you know what you're comfortable knocking out of the park dinner-wise, so try to stick close to it and you're bound to succeed.
  • Looking Fancy: Ladies and gentlemen, you are cooking dinner at home so that you don't have to shove yourself into five-inch heels or a neck tie along many other uncomfortable people. Ladies, if you can cook a great meal in heels and not want to lie down on the floor when it's over, more power to you. Gentlemen, if you can manage to keep sizzling butter or tomato sauce off any just pressed and washed shirt and tie, great work. For the rest of us, be comfortable, be yourself, be relaxed. You are at home with someone who loves you. Breathe.
  • Doing It All Yourself: Your ultimate goal may be to have dinner ready and waiting for the one you love. That doesn't always quite work out, does it? Listen, we say this over and over again because we really love to cook, but cooking is fun and relaxing when you allow it to be. Some of the happiest moments in some of our lives have been chopping mirepoix with the ones we love. If you need help, ask for it, and enjoy some time spent together creating a dinner you'll both really enjoy.
  • Screwing It All Up: Sometimes, even for the most well-versed and comfortable home cook, disaster strikes. Maybe you scorch your sauce. Maybe you overcook your steak. Who among us hasn't burned the crostini once or twice? As we've said before, it might not be perfect, but it's usually edible. Having a good bottle of wine on hand really helps. Should your ultimate fear come true and you've actually made something not fit for human consumption, our best recommendation is this: pour another glass of wine and make out with the person you love until the pizza arrives.

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