It’s hard to find a time and the finances to go out on a date with your husband. I and my husband went on our first real date in a long time on Valentine’s Day. It happened quite quickly I don’t think we really had an option to say “No”. My sister-in-law arranged for us to go on a double date and set-up a babysitter who took a bottle of wine as payment which my sister-in-law paid promptly. We went to a local restaurant where my other brother-in-law (my husband has 7 siblings!) worked, it was much nicer than we usually eat. Since we’d not been out in a long time, we’re talking a year, we spent more than we ever would’ve dreamed of doing.

We’d had such a good time but I know honestly we don’t have the time or funds to repeat an expensive dinner anytime soon. And that’s OK. We don’t need expensive, fancy dinners to be able to have a date. We can date frugally and simply. After all, the purpose of a date is to spend time together not spend a lot of money. So here’s my list of simple, cheap(er) date ideas:

1) Rent a movie: Dollar red box is always a bargain. But don’t forget your local library may have deals too. If you subscribe to Netflix or a DVR service, you could save money by using services you already pay for. Don’t forget the popcorn! Go for the bag of kernels and pop your own over the stove to add some additional fun while saving some money over the microwave popcorn.

2) Do Breakfast: We have a couple of donut shops in town and are planning a breakfast date for coffee and donuts. Don’t have the luxury of going out to breakfast, arrange your morning routine to get up a bit early and enjoy a breakfast at home. You could make a breakfast casserole the night before and warm it up.

3) Play together: Having a relaxing afternoon or evening playing a board game, cards, or video games gives you a chance to relax and laugh together. Choose something you both enjoy and, if possible, something you use to do when you dated.

4) Go on a Picnic: You could even take the kids with you on this! Plan an easy to carry menu and if you have kids, kid friendly options. Choose somewhere that has a quiet place you can put down a blanket. If you’ll have the kids, make sure it’s somewhere they can safely play. If its more secluded with no playground equipment (which would be nice!) bring outside toys for them. After quickly setting up boundaries for the kids (no further than that  tree or stay where we can see you), you and your husband can sit and enjoy each other’s company.

5) Eat Late!: This may not be good for a diet but its a great way to get some time with your husband. Feed the kids something easy, wear them out and put them in bed a little early. Once they’re settled, get your supper on the table. I recommend cooking something while you go through your evening routine. This way its ready when you are (get the lasagna in the oven when you’re putting the kids in bed or have the salad chopped and ready to go). To add the atmosphere of a fine restaurant, shut off the lights (or lower them) and light some candles.

6) Adult Only Dessert: If waiting to eat isn’t an option, make a nice desert and eat that later with your husband. Pick a dessert you both like or alternate between each of your favorites.

7) Do Something Active: So, this may not sound like your idea of a romantic time. But it really can be fun and a great way to grow closer. Plan to do a 5K walk/jog/run together. You might have to train separately if you’ve got kids. You can help cheer each other on, support one another. It will give you something to look forward to. The day of the event you will see each other’s hard work pay off. And if you’re walking together its a great way to get time to talk and relax together. Want something less competitive? Try riding bikes together. This is a pretty stressless activity that you can start right away with a short ride around the neighborhood. Evening walks are always relaxing.

8) Sit on the Porch: In the summer one of my favorite things to do is sit on the porch and while sipping on some ice tea watch the lightning bugs. When I lived in a small town, I’d be greeted with the neighbors coming and going. Living in the city, now my porch is much more secluded as it faces the back yard. If the kids are in bed, I’m close enough that I can bolt in there quickly. If they’re still up, they can safely play in the yard while my husband and I watch from our comfy porch spot.

9) Do Lunch: Lunch meals are often cheaper than supper or dinner time meals. Why not grab lunch with your husband? You can avoid the crowds by going on off times such as 11 or 1. If the meal out is not in the budget, try meeting at home and sitting down at the table and eating together. If the weather is nice, each of you pack a lunch and meet in a park.

10) Take advantage of a Babysitter: Now, I don’t mean financially or exploiting their time. I do mean if you’ve already scheduled a babysitter take advantage of the time and sneak in a quick lunch or dinner. We’ve been known to hire a babysitter so we could get our taxes done. Since we’ve already got one and paying her, we’ll grab a quick lunch on our way home. Thus taking full advantage of what we’re already paying for. If grandma volunteers to babysit on Saturday for a few hours so you can clean the house, grab a dinner with the hubby before picking-up the kids.

I’ve not done all of those date ideas but they are certainly ones I’m hoping to try sometime. I believe the best frugal dates are ones that are personal to the couple. They are ones that emphasize your relationship. What creative date nights have you had?