Date Ideas for $15 or Less!


Since we first got married, my husband and I have always tried to make our relationship a priority.  Two kids and four years later, we’ve had to get more creative with juggling babysitters and work schedules, but we usually manage to set apart at least one evening a week for each other.  Here I’ll share a few of our regular date ideas that don’t break the budget.  After all, quality time doesn’t have to be expensive.

Subway sandwiches and a walk downtown ($5 foot-long apiece, walk – free = $10 total)

Applebee’s Half-Priced Appetizers after 9pm  (usually $5 per person, plus tax/tip = $15)

Added perk of feeling like a fancy sit-down restaurant AND if you don’t go until after 9pm, you can put the kiddos to bed at the grandparents house and run!

Milkshakes at Steak & Shake (2-4 pm on weekdays) ($3 per milkshake, plus tax/tip = $9)

Extra points if you marry someone who doesn’t like maraschino cherries and will let you have his everytime.

Theater Movie (overpriced popcorn optional) ($4.50 per person on weekday afternoons = $9)

Gourmet Coffee Date in the Mall (chat in the coffee lounge or walk around and windowshop while you sip) – ($6 per person = $12)

Hunt for Treasures at Goodwill or Yard Sales (a little self-control can make this under $15)

AFTER BEDTIME, AT-HOME DATE NIGHTS: (for when babysitters elude you)

Ice Cream and Netflix Night – Have your husband bring home a tub of his favorite flavor and a tub of yours.  Kiss the kiddos goodnight, turn on a lighthearted episode, and grab some spoons.  ($8, not counting Netflix subscription)

And assuming you don’t finish the entire tub, you’ll probably have extra ice cream for next time!  (But no judgment if you do)

Candles, Champagne, and Bubble BathNo, it’s not just for people in movies.  ($6)

Caution: Candlelit romance may quickly turn to loud laughter if you have a small tub and… not two small people.

Salsa (or attempt to!)Put some music on and get moving together.  Even if you’re no pro, your husband will probably appreciate the effort.  There’s something about music that makes it easier to get the ‘flirt-on’. (free)

Also good exercise… the real kind of romance that leaves you breathless.

Board or Card Games(free, if previously purchased)

Keep the competition both fierce and friendly by keeping score with articles of your ‘opponent’s’ clothing instead of cards or tokens.  Or perhaps the loser owes the winner a ten minute foot-rub?

At-Home Massage – (free to $5, depending on if you choose to buy lotion or massage oil)

Some tips:

1)      Sometimes just by timing when you go somewhere, you can get the same thing for cheaper (as with Applebee’s, Steak & Shake, and the movie theater).  So check around town and see what you’re able to make with your husband’s work schedule.

2)      If you have a nursing baby, it may seem impossible to ever make it to a movie or leave him with a babysitter.  After they’re sleeping consistently at night, try leaving after bedtime!  See if you have a trusted neighbor or local relatives who will let you put your kids down there for the evening and pick them up on the way home.

3)      Learn to think beyond the candle-lit dinner and a movie.  Have a pillow-fight, play tag, do the unexpected.  Whatever it takes to get each other laughing and having an honest good time.

I’m always looking for new ideas, so I’d love to hear your ideas for a budget night out (or in!).

39 thoughts on “Date Ideas for $15 or Less!

  1. Bethany says:

    Love this, I was just telling my husband we need to start having a date once a week. Thanks for the ideas!!

  2. Mama Goose says:

    Swapping babysitting nights with friends and family who have kids is a great way to have a free babysitter on a regular basis. Your at-home dates are a good reminder. We can’t always find a babysitter, and it’s nice to do something different besides watching tv together.

  3. You have uploaded a great site.

  4. JessiShade says:

    My husband and I enjoy turning on some music and turning down the lights, dressing up, and then enjoying crackers, cheese (we enjoy Brie) and a glass of wine.

  5. Marisol says:

    $1 menu at McDonald’s or Wendy’s, drive to the lake in town, park, eat and talk:)

  6. Rachael says:

    My husband and I go on runs together in the morning or evening which gets us moving for health and lets us talk to each other for our relationship- also totally free!

  7. Marianne R. says:

    You are really sweet and have your priorities in order! Your husband is a lucky guy but then again, he must be the other half of wonderful!

  8. Mom of two boys also says:

    LOVE your site! My husband and I go to the golf driving range $8 for a bucket of balls, Sit outside around our fire pit $5 for bag of wood, Play cards and/or scrabble free 🙂

  9. Cortney says:

    I love getting new date night ideas! I had to laugh about you getting your husband’s maraschino cherry. I always get his too! 🙂

  10. Kayla says:

    Just found your blog and I love it! I have a 7 1/2 month old nursing baby who will not let me out of her sight and still not sleeping through the night :/ lol! Me and my husband have been out twice for only 2 hours! We’re gonna have to do some of these at home date nights soon 🙂

    • I'm Kelsey! says:

      I feel your pain, Kayla! My first child was a great sleeper and LOVED going to the Grandparents house (and would cry when it was time to come home). My 1 year old sounds much more like your daughter. It’s a challenge! Thanks for stopping by!

  11. Richelle says:

    Date Night at Home Idea- My husband and I were gifted a box of 7-8 white shower loofahs for an indoor snowball fight. It was silly but fun. Such a great idea that we brought them to a family Christmas party where big and little kids alike really enjoyed it. I have seen them as low as $1 each and I’m sure there is a better bargain out there somewhere.

  12. Elizabeth says:

    With me being almost 70 and married to my second hubby for 27 years, we discovered the joy of an enclosed porch with a hot tub in it and speakers for music and a table with comfortable chairs. No TV is allowed or cell phones or ipads, etc. We have re-discovered the art of just talking, having a cocktail together and look forward to this every week as we do this on Friday, Saturday and sometimes Sunday nights. Just wanting the really cold weather to go away so we can sit outside again.

  13. Meghan says:

    First of all, I love the microscopic smiley at the very bottom of your webpage. Anyway, I have a couple date night ideas you might really enjoy…

    smoothies – we use a can of fruit each, a scoop of vanilla ice cream, and a cup of milk. We also only do this on nights we have all the ingredients, and it is a lot of fun to make smoothies for each other. Pair it with a good episode of millionaire matchmaker! free!

    Indoor picnic dinner- make a crockpot soup with leftover veggies that need to be used, or just serve dessert. I like to put a blanket on the floor between the two couches, then line the edges of the blanket with christmas lights. Turn the real lights off, and use cutting boards as on-floor tables. Wine and homemade soda bread make it fantastic! 10 dollarsish for wine and desserts!

    spa night- take a bath or shower together, then massages with a good moisturizer, then dress each other for bed. make a rule of no talking, and making the date lead up to an early bedtime is an awesome idea for great relaxing sleep! 8 dollarsish for a good moisturizer.

  14. brittany says:

    a short wrestling match at anytime of the day is a good way to remind each other of how much fun you can have together. it usually leads to other playfulness after also. it just puts both of you in a really fun mood.

  15. Karen says:

    This is great. Even though it is just my husband and I we have his Mom, Our daughter and granddaughter living downstairs and getting some quiet alone time is not easy, even during the night. These ideas are great. I would definitely opt for the outside the home dates. Thank youfor some great date idea starters.

  16. Heidi says:

    Some of our favorites:

    1. Watching the sunset or stargazing on a blanket at the beach, park, or even your backyard. 2. Going out to share a dessert at a restaurant. 3. (For those that drink alcohol), going out to a favorite wine bar or pub and enjoying a glass over conversation. Think a classy setting, not a bustling ale house, that way you can really focus on you and your hubby.

  17. Bronwyn says:

    My husband and I love to have a Barnes & Noble date. We get a Starbucks and share it, and browse the books and magazines for a couple of hours. So relaxing and fun to get new ideas. Sometimes we will leave with a bargain book, to add to our library.

    • I'm Kelsey! says:

      That’s one of our FAVORITE dates, Bronwyn! Glad to see there are other like-minded couples out there!

  18. Linda says:

    I live in Vancouver, Canada (an expensive city, but it has some perks). One of the perks are awesome hole-in-wall ethnic restaurants. My faves are Hunan (a province in China), Hong Kong style noodle houses and Vietnamese.

    The little Hunan place has lunch specials for around $8. This includes a entree, rice and beverage. With tax and tip – I’m looking around $11 to $12. We can order two of these specials – it will come to $24, but there is enough left over for the makings of a light lunch the next day.

    I looooove a steaming bowl of noodles. My favourite is Laksa style. A big bowl of this wonderfulness costs about $9. This comes with a beverage too. If I order a couple of little sides (e.g. two spring rolls, a few curried fish balls or WHY, it will cost an extra $2 each). If I order a second beverage – around $3 to $4 – the whole meal will cost about $15 (plus tax and tip).

    Finally – Vietnamese. MMmmmmmm. A bowl of Pho will set you back about $9 for a huge bowl (which is will feed two easily). Just drink the complimentary tea. Easy to have a meal out for under $15 (including tax and generous tip)!

    These little eateries are off the beaten path. Most take cash only. I love the flavours and the atmosphere. Most of these types of places are also located in inexpensive shopping areas – with wonderful produce stores which also sell imported spices/noodles, etc. They are fun to browse and you might get in some grocery shopping during the date too as you pick up a bag of tomatoes for a dollar.

    • I'm Kelsey! says:

      Oh, goodness. Now I really, really want Asian food! Way to work up my appetite, Linda. 😉 Thanks for sharing.

  19. Elizabeth says:

    I really enjoyed this article! We are trying to save for so many things coming up in the next few years- a house, a child. It is so important to be able to still have fun and make time while saving for the future. So thank you for sharing!

    The husband and I love the Barnes & Noble outing too! Here are a few other things we have done for dates:

    *Drive around and look at homes (we have a couple fancy neighborhoods where we live). Sometimes we go into open houses lol!
    This usually just costs gas money.

    *During the Christmas holiday: make some hot chocolate or apple cider in tumblers and take them to go, put on some festive music, and drive around looking at Christmas lights.

    *Hiking is something we enjoy. We pack a sack lunch, bring the pup.

    *For my husband’s birthday last year I made him a treat (favorite candy: swedish fish dipped in chocolate $3) and gave them to him at our favorite lookout point- while we listened to a CD he made me when we were first dating. I surprised him when we got home from work with a water balloon fight ($3 for a bag of 50). I would love to do this again.

    *We also like to take our pup to the dog park together and layout in the sun if the weather permits.

    *We enjoy food. Some nights we will pick a dessert or dinner that we want to make, and will cook in the kitchen together. A few favorites are personal pizzas, cookies, ice cream sundays, appetizer-type finger foods… on these nights we use paper plates to save the mess.

  20. Melissa says:

    I love your article! 🙂

    My husband and I like to do Bible studies together. Sometimes we’ll each read a different chapter and ask each other questions. It’s fun to see how we each interpret different passages. Sometimes we are right on point with each other, and sometimes we are completely opposite!

    We love to cook together and do DIY projects, too. We’ve gotten a bunch of old furniture from different family members, and we’ll fix them up and sell them! So much fun! 🙂 <3

  21. Tiffany says:

    Water gun fights on a hot summer night in the back yard. 😀

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