cheap dates 101

October 4, 2011

Despite the fact that we are young and in love, the Husband and I don’t really get the chance to go out very often. It’s not that I am embarrassed to be seen with him — in fact, it’s probably the opposite. He has sat through one too many dinners with me whipping out Roxy to want to be seen with me on a regular basis. In reality, it’s not really the former or the latter.

The real reason we don’t go out too often is because we don’t have much wiggle room when it comes to our budget. When we think about going out for dinner on the weekends, the first thought that usually comes to mind is “that $50 could be used on ‘this’, not a dinner that we might not even enjoy.” We’re pretty lame, but I’m definitely okay with that. In fact, my mom once told me we were more boring than my dad and her. Thanks, Madre.. thanks.

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And to be perfectly honest with you, the Husband and I don’t really feel that we “need” to do something every weekend. Our schedules are so busy that staying in on a Friday or Saturday night to watch movies together or enjoy a relaxing evening doesn’t bother us one bit. Between work, keeping up with the house, cooking, and making sure Charlie is taken care of, we don’t have much free time.

There are times, however, that we do want to go out and have some fun, but we don’t necessarily have much money to do so. So, what do we do when we are bored and don’t have much extra cash to spend?

1. Baking — Believe it or not, the first time the Husband and I hung out way back in high school, we spent the night making chocolate chip cookies. Despite his learned helplessness in the kitchen since we have gotten married, he does make a pretty mean chocolate chip cookie! Baking is an inexpensive way to spend some time with one another — not to mention it’s fun and delicious as well!

2. Go for a hike — or a bike ride… or just a walk around the neighborhood! Marriage is a funny thing sometimes because even though you live together, that doesn’t necessarily mean you get to see each other and spend quality time talking all the time! Life gets in the way, but going out and getting active together is a fun way to reconnect.

3. Play games — This is something the Husband and I don’t do enough of! We have a closet full of games, but rarely pull any out if we’re feeling bored. It may or may not have something to do with the fact that I’m a sore loser and he always wins.

4. Redbox — I seriously love those Redbox movies. Whoever thought of them was a genius. For only $1.00 a night, you can watch a movie and relax together. Unfortunately some of the movies aren’t quite up to par, but in the end, you can get a good laugh and hey… it was only $1.00!

5. Get coffee — Now this is my kind of cheap date. Going to Starbuck’s or another favorite coffee joint is a great way to spend time together. For a couple of dollars you can sip on some great drinks and have a nice long talk and/or people watch!

And I have to admit — I’m quite a cheap date.

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I have no problem relaxing at home with the Husband on our nights off! I’ve always been quite the wild child.

Question: What are some of your ideas for cheap dates?

{ 62 comments… read them below or add one }

Kirstie @ Musings of a Happy Life October 4, 2011 at 5:27 pm

I’m a cheap date too!

The husband and I recently spent a Saturday afternoon reading on the grass enjoying a picnic in a grassed area at one of the nearby wineries we like. We bought a bottle of wine and just lay on the grass for a few hours reading. It was delightful!

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cleaneatingchelsey October 5, 2011 at 5:58 am

That sounds amazing!

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Katie @ Peace Love and Oats October 4, 2011 at 5:30 pm

Free festivals in Chicago are great ones! A lot are also only $5 or $10 a person (“suggested” donation). Or the farmers market!

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Holly October 4, 2011 at 5:32 pm

Here’s a great website that I tweeted to you: http://ictoad.com/ “I Can’t Think Of A Date”. You can upload great date ideas and search for dates/activities in your area! A friend of mine put this together, so here’s some shameless promotion :)

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cleaneatingchelsey October 5, 2011 at 5:58 am

That is an AWESOME website!

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Lindsey October 4, 2011 at 5:35 pm

Coffee dates for sure, and movie nights! In the summer bike rides and picnics. What we try to do is every other month we plan a date for each other – rotating who does the planning. It can be something as simple as a move night at home, or more elaborate too – it is up to the person and the budget at the time.

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cleaneatingchelsey October 5, 2011 at 5:59 am

That’s a great idea. I think we need to implement a monthly date night!

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Lauren October 4, 2011 at 5:38 pm

Joey and I go out to eat once in a while, but truth be told, cooking at home and laughing at How I Met Your Mother is much more our thing. We usually just go out if we want the atmosphere and time with friends. I hate when people assume that since you live together you see each other all the time. We love going on evening walks and are trying to take advantage before it gets cold :( Best cheap date = picnic or popping your own popcorn and renting a movie.

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cleaneatingchelsey October 5, 2011 at 5:59 am

That’s more our “thing” as well!

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Joanna October 4, 2011 at 5:49 pm

My husband and I are the SAME way! No need to go out all the time…I’d much rather go to the grocery store and cook up a storm in our home! :)

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Jess@atasteofconfidence October 4, 2011 at 5:50 pm

Our favorite cheap dates are bike rides, definitely. Groupons for things like movies help, too!

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cleaneatingchelsey October 5, 2011 at 6:00 am

I am a Groupon buyin fool!

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Christina October 4, 2011 at 6:00 pm

So I have been weirdly lurking around your site for a while and thought I would finally post a comment because you and your husband remind me of my hubby and me! We almost never go out despite the fact that not only do we have season passes to Disney Land, we also can drive their pretty quick. Its such a cheap date because we don’t have to pay to get in but like you our schedules are just busy and we like to hang out on the couch and catch up on “How I met your mother”.

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cleaneatingchelsey October 5, 2011 at 6:00 am

:) Thanks for coming out of the creepy lurking darkness – just joking! I would LOVE to have a season pass to Disneyland!

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Holly October 4, 2011 at 6:09 pm

Hey Chelsea! I can’t believe I JUST found your blog..where the heck have I been..seriously?!!? :) Just wanted to tell you that I love it & I can’t wait to catch up on some of your previous posts.
& my husband & I enjoy nights at home rather than going out too- I’m such a homebody, but I’m not complaining :)

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cleaneatingchelsey October 5, 2011 at 6:00 am

I don’t know where you’ve been but I’m glad you’re here now! :)

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Nicole @ simplynicole October 4, 2011 at 6:09 pm

I love going for walks and coffee dates with my guy.

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Julie H. of Spinach and Sprinkles October 4, 2011 at 6:10 pm

LOVE your date ideas…. never thought to make him bake with me! That’s great! :) ….We like to have our own date nights spruced up with a bottle of wine and not answering our phones… and going for long walks :) And a movie in bed, so much better than a cold theatre!

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cleaneatingchelsey October 5, 2011 at 6:01 am

I agree – movie in bed is so much more cozy!

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Lauren @ Forward is a Pace October 4, 2011 at 6:16 pm

Sounds like us. :) Redbox is one of our favorite date nights. We may or may not have Redboxed the Justin Bieber movie on our third wedding anniversary. (I promise we celebrated properly on the weekend – our anniversary was a Tuesday!)

Our go-to cheap/free dates are similar to what you mentioned, but I’ll add:
-Going out for dessert. Less expensive than dinner but still feels like a treat and gets us out of the house.
-Going to the Museum of Science and Industry! Jon got me a membership for my birthday one year, and now he always renews it. I think it’s like $80 for the WHOLE year for us to both go as many times as we want, and it includes tickets to special events whenever they come, plus an IMAX movie on each visit. We love it, and even though there’s a cost upfront, it feels free when we use it. We were members of the Art Institute for a while, too.
-Local festivals
-Touristy Chicago things like Millennium Park, Buckingham Fountain

I’m sure there are more but I’m drawing a blank now. :) We’re lame right along with you.

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cleaneatingchelsey October 5, 2011 at 6:02 am

My mom and I got an annual pass for the Museum this year too! Although it definitely has not been used that often…

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Chelsea @ One Healthy Munchkin October 4, 2011 at 6:24 pm

Hikes and baking are such good ideas! I also think having a picnic in the park would be fun. And skating in the winter!

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Kayla @ SproutyBuns October 4, 2011 at 6:35 pm

my boyfriend has it pretty lucky when it comes to buying my drinks/eating out. I’m tipsy after 1 glass of wine which means more money for left for the good stuff, food. :)

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cleaneatingchelsey October 5, 2011 at 6:02 am

That’s me as well!

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Christina @ This Woman Cooks! October 4, 2011 at 6:49 pm

We are exactly the same. We stay in all the time watching movies and catching up on TV. I like all of your cheap date ideas. Some other things we do are apple picking in the fall, walking through the farmer’s market, taking a trip to Target (we just love to walk around and not buy anything, so lame), walk the mall and not buy anything, take our dog to the park, have a picnic…a good date doesn’t have to be expensive!

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Lauren @ What Lauren Likes` October 4, 2011 at 6:49 pm

I love the idea of baking together! I’ve done a pizza date from home one time, we made our own pizzas and such! Veryy fun :)

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Christine @ BookishlyB October 4, 2011 at 6:54 pm

I like to go-go-go but I’m not fond of spend-spend-spend. My favorites: a cocktail and shared dessert at a late night happy hour, museums, botanical gardens, moseying around bookstores, free readings/lectures, or local festivals that are usually cheap of free.

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Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga October 4, 2011 at 7:04 pm

believe it or not, when scott and i were childless and had time to burn but didnt want to drink or go out to eat and we didnt want to workout (again) together…we’d go do paint your own pottery. some places let you bring in your own wine, just sayin :) and to this day, the really messy things that scott painted are some of my fave dishes and we look back on them with really fond memories…from almost 10 yrs ago now.

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cleaneatingchelsey October 4, 2011 at 7:15 pm

SUCH a great idea!

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Lindsay @ Lindsay's List October 4, 2011 at 7:04 pm

For our cheap dates, we like to just go get dessert and coffee…skipping dinner all together. We get my mom to watch Henry and Clara and then go get dessert around 7. Such a decadent splurge for us!

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cleaneatingchelsey October 5, 2011 at 6:03 am

That’s a good idea!

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Lauren October 4, 2011 at 7:08 pm

Such cute ideas! I love the baking one. It’s not only cheap but totally romantic. We like to cook dinner together. Our last ronevu in the kitchen was making sushi and we had such a blast!

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cleaneatingchelsey October 5, 2011 at 6:03 am

I have always wanted to make homemade sushi!

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Coco October 4, 2011 at 7:14 pm

A little online research goes a long way. My boyfriend and I live in Baltimore, and there are ALWAYS free festivals and events going on. Also, websites like Groupon, LivingSocial, Tippr, CBS Local Deals, or even just coupons for local places from your newspaper are great. I also have a “junk” email address that I use to sign up for companies’ email promo lists–a lot of restaurants will send coupons and deals all the time!

Just be creative and think outside the box.

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Lindsay @ biking before bed October 4, 2011 at 7:21 pm

My boyfriend and I love to go to whole foods on the weekends and try all of the food samples. It’s fun to go try new foods and people watch

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cleaneatingchelsey October 5, 2011 at 6:04 am

Now THAT is my kind of date!

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lindsay October 4, 2011 at 7:36 pm

oh girl, we are one in the same. NO wiggle room, but we still make time for little dates. Coffee is super fun, hikes with the puppers, and I love the baking idea! we usually make pizza or go for a glass of wine, etc. Great post! I love how we can relate.
:)

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Ashley @ My Food 'N' Fitness Diaries October 4, 2011 at 7:46 pm

My husband and I are right there with ya on everything you’re saying in this post! We don’t go out much, and if we do, it’s to the dollar theater or because we have a gift card/coupon for a restaurant. We go on lots of walks, rent tons of Redbox movies (we’re huge fans too), go out for fro-yo (my ideal lil date!), and watch past seasons of tv shows on Netflix. Don’t worry, you’re not the only one! ;)

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Katie McFadden October 4, 2011 at 7:46 pm

We are big on Netflix – they’re currently streaming the entire Mad Men series! We also like to have friends over – we’ll all plan dinner together and assign different things to different people. Games, music etc… are more fun when you have another couple to hang with.

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cleaneatingchelsey October 5, 2011 at 6:04 am

I have been watching that as well!! Love Netflix (okay, I love my MOM’s netflix – we bum off of her!).

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Anna @ On Anna's Plate October 4, 2011 at 7:56 pm

I’m definitely a cheap date now that I’m pregnant, haha. Cutting wine from a meal brings the price down, for sure :-)

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Tina @ Faith Fitness Fun October 4, 2011 at 8:08 pm

We love laying low too. Although we do try to get out for something just the two of us at least once a month as well.

PS – Redbox = the best thing ever!

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Brittany @ Little b October 4, 2011 at 8:22 pm

I love this post! My boyfriend and I are in the exact same boat and it’s hard somtimes when you are constantly catching flack from friends. Like you we don’t mind going out every once in a while, but would much rather redbox or hang out with our families on the weekend :)

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kathleen @ the daily crumb October 4, 2011 at 8:54 pm

we love our local movie theatre which has tuesday night $1 tickets (although the movies are about 4 months behind!) we also enjoy walks with the dogs, picnics, and in the colder months… ice skating!

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Soo October 4, 2011 at 9:04 pm

You’re speaking our language! Our favorite cheap dates are in sweatpants, lounging at home with a bowl of icecream. We also love biking and exploring our city! It’s all about the quality time, I agree. :)

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cleaneatingchelsey October 5, 2011 at 6:05 am

You’re so right – it is all about the quality time!

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Emily @ Perfection Isn't Happy October 4, 2011 at 9:16 pm

Starbucks dates are the best (even though that can add up quickly too!). My boyfriend and I had our third date there, and afterward he took me sledding! That was probably one of our simplest, yet best dates in the nearly 3 years that we’ve been dating. Going for walks in the park are fun too!

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Melanie McCarthy October 4, 2011 at 9:30 pm

Chelsey – I really had to laugh out loud at your comment that you guys are more boring than your parents. My parents and yours definitely come up with fun things to do! Maybe in 30ish more years we will have time for that! I enjoy reading the blog!

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cleaneatingchelsey October 5, 2011 at 6:06 am

haha I know, right? They’re always talking about their adventures – like their ballroom dancing! Whatever, someday when we’re all grown up and our kids are our age, we’ll have fun.

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Chelsea October 4, 2011 at 9:35 pm

My boy-friend and I are cheap as well :) We typically just stick with the movies, running together, or netflixing it haha. We obviously like movies and running!

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Rebecca @ Miss Magnolia Munches & Moves October 4, 2011 at 9:43 pm

I love the idea of cooking together! Especially for a newer beau. It’s a great way to get to know someone without the awkwardness of sitting and staring at each other at a restaurant.

Another idea is browsing antique stores or art galleries.

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Khushboo October 4, 2011 at 11:53 pm

Love the idea of going on a hike together–> after a certain point, it really will just be only you 2! Only a blogger would suggest this but what about signing up for a race together! I know the race fee might be a bit steep but think about how many runs together/training etc you will get out of it!…plus coming up with refueling ideas is always fun!

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cleaneatingchelsey October 5, 2011 at 6:06 am

That is a great idea! Now if I could only get the Husband to run!

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Amanda @ the beauty notebooks October 5, 2011 at 11:03 am

stargazing — all you need is a blanket, each other, and the sky. i’m in love!

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Anna @ The Guiltless Life October 5, 2011 at 11:32 am

Probably just grabbing a coffee and going for a walk. Or going for photo walks – if one of you doesn’t like to take photos that much they can be the model :) .

Other cheap date options: – going for a picnic, browsing bookstores together, visiting friends at their place (no need for anyone to stress about hosting; just a hang out!)…

Depends on how many similar interests you have I guess. But I have always been a cheap date too ;)

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Courtney @ Sweet Tooth, Sweet Life October 5, 2011 at 12:14 pm

I’ve tried getting hubs to bake with me, but he really just prefers to eat the final product. ;)
Redbox is definitely a favorite of ours. Plus, he always seems to know a code to get the movie for free (as if the $1.00 wasn’t good enough, right?)
We also really enjoy playing games, especially with our friends. Catchphrase, apples to apples, Wii…we like it all! :)

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Abby @ Abz 'n' Oats October 5, 2011 at 12:41 pm

Great ideas! Some of my favorite date nights have been playing Scrabble and then another time we did our own kind of “Top Chef” night where we each made a serving of a dish and voted on which one was better!

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Candy @ Healthy in Candy Land October 5, 2011 at 1:00 pm

This might reveal the true nerds we are, but one of my favorite dates is to go to the book store! No kids, just quiet time together and some tea.

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Amy October 5, 2011 at 2:24 pm

My hubby and I like to pack our lunches in our coolers and go to Barnes and Noble cafe and get green iced teas and chat and eat our lunch. Its cheap and we feel like we’re eating out but better.

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Sophie @ threetimesf October 5, 2011 at 2:35 pm

Crazy Golf is my fav cheap option if you actually wan to go out :) It’s always so funny!

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lauren October 5, 2011 at 4:23 pm

The hubs jokes sometimes that we are being couch potatoes, but one of our favorite things to do is to make dinner together or order pizza and catch up on TV shows and watch movies. Going out to dinner or a movie is fun once in awhile, but there is nothing better than snuggling up on the couch together (with our cat) and some hot cocoa or a glass of wine.

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Danica @ It's Progression Not Perfection October 5, 2011 at 6:00 pm

My fiance and I really don’t have “wiggle room” for costly date nights either. Thanks for the ideas!

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