On the Cheap

Inexpensive Dinnertime Mains for Valentine's (or Any) Day

February 12, 2014

Cooking on the cheap shouldn't mean minute rice and buttered pasta every night. With a little creativity and a little planning, Gabriella Paiella shows us how to make the most of a tight budget -- without sacrificing flavor or variety. 

Today: Special occasion dinnertime mains that won't break the bank.

Broke as you may be, there will be a time when you're going to have to buck up and spring for a fancy dinner.

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You'll want to celebrate something special appropriately -- whether it's a birthday, a promotion, or even a certain holiday coming up this Friday that will remain unnamed. (I'm talking about the House of Cards Season 2 premiere, folks.) 

So here's how you do it:

- Forget going out to a restaurant, because we both know your credit card can't take that right now. And regardless, it doesn't matter, because you probably completely forgot to make a reservation.
- Put on a nice dress. Or suit. Whatever you're into. Maybe brush your hair, too.
- Learn to set a table. Don't worry about owning perfect plates and silverware -- mismatched settings can be charming in their own way. 
- Light a candle or two. 
- Wine. A lot of it. 

Once you've got all those things covered, you're going to need a main dish that's a stunner. Steak and lobster are out of the question, so here are some affordable alternatives that'll still make for a special and memorable meal. 

Barbara Kafka's Simplest Roast Chicken

Lemon and Toasted Almond Risotto

Alon Shaya's Whole Roasted Cauliflower and Whipped Goat Cheese

The Best Roast Chicken with Garlic and Herb Pan Sauce

Deb Perelman's Mushroom Bourguignon

French Onion Soup, the Scorched Way

Ginger Soy Glazed Salmon

Al Forno's Penne with Tomato, Cream & Five Cheeses

Tell us: What are you favorite dressed-up dinnertime mains that are still affordable?

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1 Comment

shannon February 12, 2014
Beef stroganoff, with a nice pan seared steak thinly sliced on top of huge egg noodles and lots of fresh dill