Ahhh, Valentine’s Day.

Roses are in high demand, teddy bears take over bedroom shelves and romantic couples gaze into each other’s eyes over a costly, several-course restaurant dinner.

But not everyone is excited about the idea of watching loved-up couples while paying exuberant prices at restaurants this Valentine’s Day.

However, that doesn’t mean your night can’t be romantic, says food and home expert Emma Braz.

“If it comes from the heart, a home-cooked meal is the best gift you can give your partner,” says Emma.

“It’s a great way to go. Valentine’s Day this year falls on a Saturday¬†and restaurants will be busy.”

It’s not just work commitments that make cooking a romantic meal at home an attractive option; watching the wallet is another.

Restaurants will often up their prices for February 14th.

“The difficulty for restaurateurs is that they will generally try to do two sittings but a lot will only be doing one sitting on Valentine’s Day,” says chef Justin North.

“It’s one of the great celebratory nights of the year. We’ll generally do a completely different menu that we normally do (for Valentine’s), so we try to make it special.”

For that something special though, you’re likely to fork out a few extra bucks.

“Although times are tough. You can cook beautiful food on a budget. Good food doesn’t have to be expensive,” says Emma.

At home, you can also serve a meal that’s inspired by your favourite restaurant.

“If you were thinking about going to a restaurant, try to replicate what that restaurant serves,” she says.

“For example, if you would go to an Italian restaurant and you would order gnocchi, make gnocchi at home.”

Cooking at home also gives you the power of menu control.

While at a restaurant you can’t determine what’s on the menu, at home it’s up to you.

If you want to be a little adventurous, you can add ingredients typically known to be aphrodisiacs.

Foods such as oysters, basil, garlic, figs, chocolate and champagne are often associated with romance.

“And create a good atmosphere,” says Emma. “Dim the lights, have a bit of romantic music and get your partner to try the food as you’re cooking.”

For those who harbour a bit of fear about placing the night’s success in their own hands, preparation is key.

“On the weekend test the recipe and make sure you like it before you serve it to your partner,” she suggests.

Get all of the shopping and preparation done beforehand, and you can then let love take its course.

Tips for a romantic Valentine’s Day meal

1. Buy fresh produce

2. Be well prepared

3. Have your partner taste the food as you are cooking

4. Create a nice table setting, including candlelight

5. Purchase quality wine or a sparkling cider or grape juice

6. Make a dessert you can share

7. Stay calm

Our Fresh.co.nz top five fave recipes of love:

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