The best Valentine’s dinner date ideas for students on a budget

cheap dinner date ideas
Every year people spend billions on Valentine's Day. Source: Ludovic Marin/AFP

While you’d like to give the world to your Valentine’s, you don’t need to. Love is priceless and cheap dinner date ideas will impress your loved one just as much as the fanciest Michelin-star restaurants.

February 14 is one of the most consumeristic holidays in the world. Many go all out, spending tonnes on flowers, chocolates and dinner.

Around US$23.9 billion was spent on Valentine’s Day in 2022. And that’s just in the US. 

If you’re on a student budget, don’t spend all your money just to show your Valentine’s that you love and care for them. Instead, get creative and focus on what really matters: your relationship.

Your effort to celebrate your love is worth far more than the thoughtless act of swiping a credit card on a gift they’ll likely not use or soon forget. It’s you they should be impressed with, not your bank account.

To captivate your partner for all the right reasons, try these cheap dinner date ideas that will show that a budget is no hurdle to making anyone feel like a million dollars:

Here are seven cheap dinner date ideas for a memorable Valentine’s Day:

dinner date

Cheap dinner date ideas will impress your loved one just as much as the fanciest Michelin-star restaurants. Source: Daniel Zuchnik/AFP

Cook dinner together 

Why go to a restaurant when you can cook dinner and have a lot of laughs along the way? 

You can make it as fancy or low-key as you would like. Whether you want to go all out with a fillet mignon or enjoy a grilled cheese sandwich is entirely up to both of you. 

The best part? This is a meal that’s never been served to anyone else apart from the both of you. It doesn’t get anymore unique than that.

Go to the museum

If you’re both from different countries, what better way to come closer than some culture? It’s what builds bridges among nations — and will surely bring you closer.

By going to a museum, there’s no need to think about what to talk about either. For conversation starters, you can draw inspo from some of the world’s greatest arts — great for the introverts among us.

The Museum of the City of New York has organised several programmes from February 11 to February 14 this year. This includes acapella singers, private tours, origami projects and scavenger hunts.

Museums also offer free admission or discounted ticket prices to students, so don’t worry about spending too much. Just focus on having a good time — together.

Pro tip: For dinner, head to the museum cafe or restaurant. They are some of the most underrated places to eat in the city.

Have an indoor picnic

Throw down a blanket in your room, make some sandwiches and a dessert, pack it up in a basket and you are good to go. 

You can even turn on some background music of birds chirping to give you the full experience. This way, you are enjoying a picnic minus the flies and bugs. 

Too intimate too soon? Take the picnic to a nearby park. It’s less pressure but just as fun.

dinner date

Cheap dinner date ideas show your partner that your love for them is not bound by your budget. Source: Leon Neal/AFP

Have a game night 

A lot of expectation is placed on Valentine’s Day, so take some pressure with a fun, competitive game of Uno or Monopoly.

If you prefer video games, invite your date over to play some V-Day themed games together. Order a more special pizza than usual and we’re game. 

Have a movie marathon 

Here’s one of our favourite classic and cheap dinner date ideas: a movie marathon.

Choose a theme you both love, rent a projector from your lecturer, pop some popcorn (or your favourite snacks) and you’re set.

If you don’t have a place of your own to do this or think you’re not ready for Netflix and chill, go to the theatres.

Many play romantic classics during Valentine’s Day. These theatres even have student discounts available, so don’t forget to check that out.

Paint together

Painting has been proven to be a great bonding activity for couples. Whether you are good or terrible at it, give it a try this Valentine’s Day with your partner. 

You can buy two canvases and choose to paint a portrait of each other. You could even spruce things up by having an art challenge where you switch canvases every five minutes.

Or, to make a meal out of it, try painting using food — try turmeric to get yellow paint, grapes for purple and beetroot for red. Don’t overthink this and just use whatever you have in the pantry.

What matters is you have a great time and have an artwork to call yours by the end of it.

Have an indoor spa date

University life can be stressful with assignments and exams. Instead of planning an elaborate night out, why not have a relaxing spa date at home?

Prepare some snacks and set up a facial or foot scrub. You can save even more money by creating DIY face masks with the ingredients in your kitchen.