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Flowers, chocolate, jewelry, dinner and wine can easily set you back $1,000, experts say. But what about the lovers themselves? Turns out most of us want far cheaper things.

2 minute read

For 25 years, the financial planners at Houston Asset Management have tracked the cost of nine popular Valentine’s Day gifts — and they noticed the price on most of them hasn’t budged in the past year. Only roses, dinner, and wine got more expensive.

But if you bought everything on their “Cost of Loving” list you’d still be out over $1,100.  If you have that much cash to blow — on everything from Chanel No. 5 perfume to designer silk ties — you’re probably just the kind of person they want as a client.

Fortunately, another new survey from ConAgra Foods shows most millennials think cooking a nice meal is more romantic than a $300 meal out. Impressing your significant other isn’t a numbers game. Here are some ways to show your love without putting a grand on your credit card…

1. Cook dinner at home

It’s great that millennials think cooking is romantic. Problem is: They don’t know how to cook. And they don’t like shopping.

ConAgra, of course, has a solution —  they’re having Laura Vitale, host of YouTube cooking show Laura in the Kitchen, post two Valentine’s Day cooking shows with step-by-step recipes and instructions for “Pasta with Pancetta and Cherry Peppers” and “Lemon Roasted Chicken Thighs with Roasted Potatoes.” You won’t be surprised to learn they feature ConAgra ingredients.

And how lazy romantic is this: As they’re watching the show, viewers will be able to order the ingredients for the meal from food delivery service Instacart. (Your first time is free, but it normally costs $4 or more for two-hour delivery.)

If you want a bit more variety, check out Digital Trends’ list of the best cooking apps available for iPhone, Android, and Windows. All but three of the 12 apps can be downloaded for free.

2. Use a coupon to go out

There’s nothing embarrassing about saving money. A new survey from coupon site says only about 1 in 9 Americans would be turned off “if their date used a coupon or deal to pay for dinner.”

Just don’t drink too much. Sixty percent say drinking too much alcohol is a turn-off. Seventy percent don’t like it when their date is rude to the waiter/waitress. (Surprisingly, flirting with the waiter/waitress is only a turn-off for 59 percent.)

3. Order takeout

Nearly a third of men think Valentine’s Day means a “gourmet dinner at an upscale restaurant,” according to the same RetailMeNot study. But even more women would rather have takeout.

You’re still paying for a restaurant meal, but at least it’s not an expensive one; and you can wear sweatpants without getting any judgmental looks.

4. Give a kiss, a hug, or “something more!”

That’s a direct quote from online retailer, which surveyed men and women on what they secretly desire for Valentine’s Day.

In a spot of bad news for the company, 24 percent of men and 20 percent of women “don’t want a gift, just more of your time.” An additional 38 percent of men and 40 percent of women want physical affection, which was a more popular response than jewelry, flowers or plush toys for both genders.

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About the Author

Jess Miller

Jess Miller

Miller is the former assistant editor of

Published by, LLC Mobile users may also access the AMP Version: Your Valentine's Day Gift Can Be Both Cheap And Thoughtful - AMP.