I made a last-minute Valentine's Day dinner under $100 without even stepping out of my house

PHOTO: AsiaOne/Lynette Phua

Good food is the language of love, but picking a dinner spot for Valentine's Day has always been a stressful event.

From looking for a romantic spot that will not leave a hole in your pocket, to making sure the menu (restaurants typically only have one menu for Valentine's Day) is to your significant other's taste, it's no wonder some couples are choosing to dine at home.

And it makes even more sense this year as the number of Covid-positive cases in Singapore is at an all-time high.

To counter all of those problems, I decided to whip up a meal for two at home with a budget of $100 with the help of foodpanda and a budget of $100. And yes, wine and desserts included.

The menu

An effortless appetiser. PHOTO: AsiaOne/Lynette Phua

The gastronomic affair starts with a simple appetiser - a caprese salad - quickly thrown together with slices of truffle brie, tomatoes, basil and topped with olive oil (and perhaps some balsamic vinegar if you have some in your pantry).

Next, we have the mains - a 'meat' sauce pasta.

Some red wine in pasta? Wine not. PHOTO: AsiaOne/Lynette Phua

Start by blistering the tomatoes till they form sort of a paste, then move on to frying the chopped up mushrooms, and finally let your hot pan, oil, and your choice of meat do its Maillard reaction magic - all separately. Combine all your ingredients, add in some red wine to deglaze your pan, season with salt, pepper and some pasta water, top it over some cooked penne, and viola - the pasta's ready to serve.

Pour yourself and your significant other some red wine, light a candle (also available on foodpanda!), and enjoy the rest of the evening because your desserts could be delivered to your doorstep with just a touch of a button. Read on to find out how you could get a quick, delicious sweet treat while still staying on budget!

Tips to wine and dine on a tight budget

To spend within your budget, one tip I have is to plan your menu. As the saying goes, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Always pick your mains and wine first as they're the priciest items on your list.

Second is to use the same ingredients in various parts of your meal. For example, the cherry tomatoes and basil used in the caprese salad appetiser were also used in the mains. Even the wine was used for deglazing the pan while I was preparing the 'meat' for the main dish - meat sauce pasta.

Third, get all your ingredients on the same day as spoiled or expired produce means money lost! And what better way to get your food and groceries fresh than to get them all delivered to your doorstep. Instead of having to schedule deliveries days in advance, I ordered everything from pandamart and received the items in 30 minutes!

Here's a list of what I got:

Beyond Meat Beyond Beef - $22.10

Swiss brown mushroom - $4.40

Penne - $2.45

Cherry tomatoes - $1.70

Fresh basil - $2.20

Castello White truffle cheese - $10.95

19 Crimes Shiraz - $24

Creamier Handcrafted Ice Cream & Coffee ice cream pints - $32.80 for two

Delivery and platform fee for pandamart - $1.68

Delivery and platform fee for food delivery - $4.48

Total: $106.76

What's Valentine's Day without some chocolates? PHOTO: AsiaOne/Lynette Phua

While it seemed like I'd burst my budget of $100, with pandapro, foodpanda's all-in-one subscription programme, I had a 10 per cent off pandamart voucher so my total bill came up to $99.05 - that's $7.71 saved!

PHOTO: foodpanda

If you don't want to spend time in the kitchen at all, pandapro has got you covered as well - get free delivery and up to 35 per cent off selected restaurants or 20 per cent off for pick-up orders.

But wait, it gets even better! For a limited time only, pandapro's annual plan is going for $2.99/month (U.P. $3.99) and the six-month plan going for $3.99/month (U.P. $4.99). For comparison, their usual monthly subscription costs $7.99 per month. There's no better time to subscribe and save some moolahs.

Pandapro subscribers can also look forward to enjoying levelled-up perks during pandapro week from Feb 21 to 27, such as 30 per cent off delivery orders (instead of the current 20 per cent off) and up to 50 per cent off full menu when you dine-in at participating restaurants (instead of the current 30 per cent off)!

Ready to go pro? Simply sign up for pandapro on the foodpanda website or app. Do also check out foodpanda's Telegram group for more details of upcoming promos.

This article is brought to you in partnership with foodpanda.