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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 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. Erin – I love the idea of pairing themed food with movies. You’re so creative. There is a local winery/farm/culinary studio near me (they really do it all) that have cooking classes that exemplify movies and books. I think it’s a wonderful way to keep classic things alive. :D 

  2. Great post, Erin :) I love having a relaxing dinner and movie night at home with my husband too! Sweet Home Alabama and My Big Fat Greek Wedding are two of our favorites and I’m excited to pair some of your recipes next time we have date night at home.

  3. We have a newborn so movie nights out are not happening anytime soon. It doesn’t mean I don’t want special time with my hubby though. These are so fun!

  4. Enjoyed this a lot! Great job on the pairing. I’m going to have to watch “Hitch”, haven’t seen it. One of my favorite romcom movies is “It Could Happen To You.” Not sure what I would cook to go along with that. ;) “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” is my all time favorite, especially since I practically lived that story… married into a Greek family. Husband is from NYC and I was from Jackson, MS…. this Southern girl had never seen any thing like NYC, much less a huge family that was loud, huggy and full of life!! 

    1. I am going to have to check out “It Could Happen to You” Shari. Thanks for the recommendation. And too funny about My Big Fat Greek Wedding. I bet your wedding was a PARTY! :)

  5. ERIN! I love this post, how absolutely adorable! I’m totally not a cheap date as well, and also share the same credit card with my hubby lol. I totally want to have a date night with each and every one of these, those truffles are just calllling my name :)

  6. I love love LOVE this post! What a great idea, as I mirror your strategy when it comes to dinners out. Yes to apps. Yes to multiple rounds of cocktails. And you can bet, I’m going to order the most expensive item on every menu (hello scallops and Dover sole). Ha!  Lovely movie picks, and of course perfect food accompaniments.  I’ve been wanting to see Midnight in Paris for eons, so I think that one paired with the quiche would have to be my pick! 

  7. I love your ‘5’ series! This is a great roundup! And you’re so right about ‘date night in’ turning into ‘a few errands on the side.’ And then add our two dogs in the middle of us, and suddenly the romance is gone.

    I am OBSESSED with your French hot chocolate, so I’ll be making that with all 5 movies, thanks :)


  8. My husband and I love to watch movies at home!! We have watched meet the parents a lot! A bunch of lifetime movies!! My favorite movies are The little princess with Shirley Temple (I know maybe not date night material but I love that movie!!) watched it last night (husband out of town right now coming back tomorrow night late) I also love The Goonies and the Burbs!! So classic! I love a wide range of movies!!

    1. I grew up with Shirley Temple, so all of her cute movies are so close to my heart. Thanks for the fun reminder Shawnna!

  9. Such a fun idea!  I have a feeling we’ll be having a lot more date nights in this summer with the baby coming :)  My favorite date night movie is Love Actually.  If I were doing a movie themed menu for it I would serve fish and chips or bangers and mash to go along with the British theme.  

  10. LOVE this post, Erin! We love date nights in and often make a fun dinner together but never thought to play the dinner off the movie. Such a fun idea! And oh man. Date nights out are expensiveeee. Cocktails, app, two large entrees and might as well throw dessert in there too! Sending this to my hubby so he can start to think of the dish he wants to make for me ;) 

  11. Wow the is an awesome and fabulous menu, my dear!! This is definitely such a fun idea. Love, love, love!!

  12. I love this idea, Erin! We are usually a stay-in-on-Friday night kind of couple too, so this is a great way to make a night at home a little more special.  I ready for some Greek Mac and Cheese and My Big Fat Greek Wedding!

  13. Love this post, Erin! So many delicious recipes to make and eat! Love watching movies and enjoying some home baked goods! :D 

  14. Our favorite date night movie is definitely The  Princess Bride.  Such a classic, and it’s got humor, adventure, and romance all in one!

  15. Hi Erin! Great post! I’d love to see a “5” on meals you could assemble in a hotel room (microwave and fridge only).  I travel for work and could use some variety in my regular routine of baked sweet potatoes and lettuce wraps… any ideas? :)

    1. Jenna, that is a tough order!! I don’t cook with the microwave much, so I will do some brainstorming and let you know.

  16. What a great idea, pairing movies with food! My all time favorite movie is “Casablanca.” I’m excited to make the Moroccan Meatballs and enjoy it with my hubby! Another movie we loved was “About Time;” not sure about a “time travel” menu, though! Also love “Dirty Dancing,” “Pretty Woman.” and “An Affair to Remember” with Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr (but have no clue about what menu options would pair well with them!) Such a fun post, thank you, Erin!

  17. Erin! This is the neatest idea ever. My husband and I are also pinching pennies at the moment with only one income but I love having ‘dates.’ As we are big foodies, this is the best idea for us! Can’t wait to try! 

  18. So…our favourite date night movie is anything with Liam Neeson, Bruce Willis, or Sylvester Stallone. He loves that I don’t really love chick flicks, and I am addicted to action. I can’t wait to see what pairings I can think of to put with those!
    Cheap date nights are the way to go at the moment with an upcoming overseas trip (USA here we come) and our nearly-ready-to-move-into house :) Thanks for the inspiration to spice up our home date nights Erin!

    1. Amy, no chick flicks? You sound like the dream wife, LOL! Maybe something super hearty and meaty? Congrats on all the excitement you have ahead!

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