family friendly

Family Friendly Menus for Valentine’s Dinner at Home

Last Updated: October 25, 2023By

Ahhhh, Valentine’s Day. The day of love, romance, bouquets of flowers, cascades of chocolate, and candlelit dinners. It’s also the day of endless classroom parties, impossible reservations, expensive babysitters, sugar bedeviled minions, and exhaustion. Which is why my family has celebrated with dinner at home for the last few years. There are no crazy decorations, no big gifts, and no expectations beyond a delicious meal. I haven’t looked back.

If you’d like to celebrate this way, here are a couple dinner menus to take some of the planning off your plate. One is for families on the go and the other is for a dinner at home.  A mid-week holiday means activities and school-night bedtimes still reign, so I’ve tried to choose recipes that are accessible and without a ton of hands-on work Valentine’s night. Most dishes can be made, at least partially, ahead of time. A bit of prep on the weekend should put everyone in position to get these meals on the table. And if you’re feeling a photo-worthy vibe, it’s possible to make some of them heart-shaped.

A Dinner for Celebrating on the Go

If you’re running between activities and want a Valentine’s Day meal that can go with you, or if you want to celebrate by watching TV or playing games in the living room without making a huge mess, this is the menu for you. Start with some Ranch Chicken Poppers – Our Salty Kitchen. These can be made ahead of time. They’re great fresh, and still good reheated or cold from the fridge. My kids love them. I form them into heart shapes, which is optional but fun. If you want to make ranch seasoning the recipe is here: Homemade Ranch Seasoning Mix | Gimme Some Oven.  If you’re feeling a little fancy, you can add in some tiny sandwiches. Everything is more fun when it’s mini, including these Peanut Butter and Jelly Tea Sandwiches – Oh, How Civilized (ohhowcivilized.com)  Really, any favorite sandwich could be cut into a fancy little tea sandwich with a heart-shaped cookie cutter.  With some cut up veggies and your favorite dip – mine is Onion Dip from Scratch Recipe | Alton Brown | Food Network – it’s a relatively healthful meal that should help counteract the intense sugar rush of the day. Pack it all up, include some cute plates and napkins, a couple of battery-powered tea lights, and you’ve got a delightful little picnic.

A Dinner for Setting the Table and Celebrating at Home

After a lot of experimentation, I’ve settled on a roasted chicken as the ultimate entree for bringing a fundamental comfort to the table. Your home will smell delicious while it’s roasting, and the people you’re cooking for will feel loved.  A roasted whole chicken seems special but is still relatively easy to make. There are myriad recipes for different flavor profiles and techniques, but it can be as simple as putting your chicken in a roasting pan, drying the skin, liberally sprinkling salt on it, and putting it in a 400 degree oven for about an hour or until it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees. If you’re feeling more ambitious, but not by much, get some butter and herbs involved in the situation – The BEST Whole Roasted Chicken – The Wooden Skillet. Roasted potatoes are an easy, delicious, popular side for a roasted chicken. This recipe Crispy Herb Potato Stacks – Our Salty Kitchen has a high novelty factor and is well worth the preparation time. They were so popular at my house a fight almost broke out over the last potato stack! The schmaltzy chicken and rich potatoes need a bright counterpoint, so I usually make a green salad with a tangy dressing or green beans sauteed in olive oil with diced onions and lemon zest.

Dessert

This is my favorite part of the meal to make. It’s arguable that no one needs to make dessert after the onslaught of treats during the day. But if you can’t help yourself, like I can’t, we can at least make something worth the sugar rush. Like this The Neapolitan No-Bake Birthday Cake – Joy the Baker. It’s cute and easy, and the leftovers make great lunchbox treats the rest of the week. If you’re in the mood for something richer and more decadent  Chocolate Cherry Cupcakes | Nigella’s Recipes | Nigella Lawson are just the thing. They require slightly more effort, but most of that effort is remembering to buy the cherry jam, which is available at HEB.

I hope you’ve found something intriguing or helpful.  If there are questions or anything I can help with, feel free to ask in the comments, and I’ll try to respond. Whatever kind of celebration your heart desires this Valentine’s Day, I hope you have a delightful day and a delicious meal!  

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