Happy Valentine’s Day. I have a question for you: do you go out to eat dinner to celebrate Valentine’s Day (or did you go out this past weekend), or do you eat in for Valentine’s Day?

We eat in. I don’t believe my husband and I have ever gone out to eat on Valentine’s Day or on the surrounding weekend that gets designated Valentine’s weekend. I’d much rather cook. Here’s why:

  1. I can cook something very special for a fraction of the cost of getting it at a restaurant.
  2. I can be choosy with my ingredients. We usually have Steak Diane for Valentine’s dinner. I only make it once a year. I can buy the best beef and ingredients for the sauce.
  3. I can customize the whole menu. The vegetables are exactly what we want.
  4. I know there will always be a dessert I want. Chocolate cake. Crème brulee. Berries and real whipped cream. If I want, I can have it.
  5. Restaurants are busy on this day. The chances of having a less-than-stellar meal are pretty good, even at restaurants that are normally excellent. I don’t want to risk it.
  6. I have a high respect for waiters and waitresses, having done the job myself for years. It stunk to work on Valentine’s Day. People wanted to sit and linger while the restaurant wanted to turn tables. Tips were usually worse than on any old Friday night because of fixed-price menus. I just don’t want to add to an unpleasant Valentine’s Day for a waiter or waitress.
  7. Cooking good food for my family is one way I show them love. Since Valentine’s Day is all about love, I enjoy cooking for them even more on this holiday.

If your plans for tonight are still up in the air, consider cooking a special meal at home. It doesn’t have to be complicated. It can be simple but elegant.

I know my menu will be a carnivore lover's delight, but I also find the vegan, gluten-free Valentine’s menu on Eat Drink Better to be appealing. With a quick run to the grocery store, you can buy what you need for this dinner that includes a pink fizzy drink, salad, pasta with vodka sauce, and chocolate-covered strawberries. The dinner should be able to come together in about an hour if two or more people are working together in the kitchen and enjoying each other’s company.

Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

7 reasons why I cook on Valentine's Day
Why stay home and cook for your sweetheart, your family, or your friends on Valentine’s Day? Let me show you.