A collage of movie posters and recipe photos for date night ideas

As much as I’d like to be at times, I’m not a cheap date. I always vote for the appetizer, can never say no to the second glass of wine, and am easily wooed by pricey side salads. Throw in a movie for two, and my date (who consequently has the same credit card number and last name as myself) is likely to wince at the final bill. I’m sorry. I just really love calamari. And Chianti.

Even if you manage to BYOB to dinner and sneak your own Junior Mints into the theater, the classic dinner and movie date-night combo is pricey. The easiest savings solution is to bring date night home by cooking dinner in your own kitchen, followed by a movie on the couch, courtesy of Netflix or RedBox. It’s fun. It’s romantic. It also can start to feel like any other weeknight very, very quickly.

Although I love cozy evenings in, I do admit that when we stay at home, it’s easy for what was supposed to be a special, earmarked Saturday evening together often slides into the rhythm of any other Monday night—as long as I’m home, I might as well pop in the next load of laundry right?

Lately, I’ve been brainstorming ways to make our date-nights in feel more…like dates. We’re saving our extra pennies for some upcoming travel, which means eating out less frequently, but that does not mean I am ready to give up my fun Saturday nights. The solution: Dinner and a Movie, Theme Night! It might sound cheesy, but I’ve found that picking a movie ahead of time, then cooking a meal together that goes along with the movie’s theme really makes the evening feel special and like a true “date.” As an additional benefit, the wine and dessert are on the house.

Dark Chocolate Red Wine Truffles

{Pssst! These are dark chocolate red wine truffles and are strongly recommended for both date nights and relaxing solo evenings.}

Last week for our first themed dinner + movie, Ben and I watched When Harry Met Sally, mostly because I never get tired of it. While the menu was a bit, um, comfortable (we had sandwiches, a nod to the signature “I’ll have what she’s having” scene in Katz Deli—and to the unbelievable amount of housework that prohibited a more involved menu), we had a blast.

Although you can certainly fix a pair of pastrami sandwiches and settle in to watch Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal argue endearingly, as a part of my on-going The Fives series, I’ve come up with five menu + movie combos that feel more special than toasting a panini but are still easy to pull together. I’m not usually one for chick flicks, but every one of these films brings me happy (and sometimes sad) tears. I hope you enjoy them and their dinner pairings too!

5 Dinner and a Movie Date Night Theme Menus

  1. Sweet Home Alabama + Buttermilk “Fried” Chicken

Sweet Home Alabama Date Night Menu

The film: Although Melanie (Reese Witherspoon) might have to make the deliciously agonizing choice between Patrick Dempsey and Josh Perry, we fortunate audience members can enjoy them both for a full 108 minutes.

The food: This crispy on the outside, ultra moist on the inside recipe for baked “fried” chicken is love at first bite.

  1. Hitch + Healthy Garlic Shrimp Pasta

Hitch Themed Date Night Menu

The film: Hitch may be my favorite romantic comedy behind When Harry Met Sally. No matter what kind of mood I’m in, it just cheers my heart. Also, I aspire to dance like Alfred one day. (“Q-tip, throw it away. Q-tip, throw it away.”)

The Food: Open a bottle of white wine, use 1/4 cup to make this fast but elegant Healthy Garlic Shrimp Pasta, then split the rest. If like Hitch, you or your date has a seafood allergy that’s likely to drive you to chug an entire bottle of decongestant, feel free to swap chicken for the shrimp.

  1. Casablanca + Moroccan Turkey Meatballs

Casablanca Themed Date Night Menu

The film: This timeless movie breaks my heart in the best possible way, and it’s also ultra quotable. If you’ve ever “rounded up the usual suspects,” wondered how someone “walked into [your] gin joint,” remarked that “we’ll always have Paris,” or said one of these 50 other lines, you’ve quoted Casablanca. “Here’s lookin’ at you, kid.”

The food: Exotic and comforting at the same time, these richly flavored Moroccan Turkey Meatballs are certain to spice up your evening.

  1. My Big Fat Greek Wedding + Greek Mac and Cheese

My Big Fat Greek Wedding Themed Date Night Menu

The film: Ooooopa! This good-hearted, cleverly-scripted movie makes me want to be Greek, fall in love, and think twice about bringing a vegetarian home to meet my mother.

The food: Greek Mac and Cheese highlights classic Greek ingredients—feta cheese, red peppers, sundried tomatoes, spinach, and black olives—in ultimate comfort-food form. Also, a crispy pita chip topping is involved. Need I say more?

  1. Midnight In Paris + Sundried Tomato Pesto Quiche

Midnight in Paris Themed Date Night MenuThe film: I couldn’t, in good conscience with my Francophile tendencies, draft a list of romantic anything without including a movie set in Paris. This fun, clever film has a wide crowd appeal and will be especially loved by anyone harboring an inner English or art nerd. Also, just look at this cast! Owen Wilson and Marion Cotillard, I have crushes on you both. You too, Kathy Bates.

The food: Thank you, France, for the ever tasty and satisfying dish that is quiche. Both this Sundried Tomato Pesto Quiche and Sweet Potato Goat Cheese Quiche would make excellent date night selections. Pick your favorite, then end the evening with two steamy mugs of French Hot Chocolate.

French Hot Chocolate. Classic dark European-style hot chocolate

Assuming my propensity to shed crumbs on every possible kitchen surface and horrific shower singing voice doesn’t scare Ben away, we have many at-home date nights ahead, so I’d love to know: what are some of your favorite date night movies? Leave a comment and tell me all about them!

Thanks so much for joining me for another Fives post, and be sure to check out the rest of the series here.

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Erin Clarke

Hi, I'm Erin Clarke, and I'm fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food that's affordable, easy-to-make, and best of all DELISH. I'm the author and recipe developer here at wellplated.com and of The Well Plated Cookbook. I adore both sweets and veggies, and I am on a mission to save you time and dishes. WELCOME!

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  1. This is the best idea Erin, I love it! You should get all the awards for keeping the date nights fun and tasty too. :)

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