Remember when dinner and a movie was the standard? You better get yourself ready for some Netflix and oatmeal, buddy.
Pretty much everyone we know is also on an extremely tight budget, which makes the whole “living on the cheap” thing seem so much more do-able. It’s nice to know that all of our closest friends are also living on a diet of rice and cereal. There’s something weirdly comforting in thinking that we’re not the only ones who probably have an iron deficiency.
For me, the “making a budget” part of living cheaply is so fun! It’s like a puzzle where you have to get everything just right. That being said, the “sticking to it” part is way, way less fun. And the “tracking expenses” part? Most un-fun thing ever. It blows. There’s so many numbers. So many questions about “did you use cash or credit?” So many, “where’s that receipt?” So much, “how on earth did we spend $30 at Taco Bell this month?”
We have one line of our budget that we feel is equal parts so fun and so necessary, but can get out of control really fast. It’s the line for dates. Dating is EXPENSIVE. Like, really expensive. Remember when dinner and a movie was a standard date in high school? Ha! Nope. Not anymore. I’m so thankful that Caleb would be happy as a clam to just sit and watch Netflix together. I also like relaxed evenings. A usual Friday night does not involve orchestrating some Pinterest worthy event. That’s a whole lot of work, dude. AND you have to clean all of it up. Ugh. With the full disclosure that this is not our normal, last weekend we had a “DATE date” (rather than a do-homework-while-in-the-same-room date.) Getting creative meant we could do something different, but not spend a ton of money on going out to eat or driving to another city. To make it more fun, I decided to pick a theme. (Yes, I know it’s cheesy. No, I don’t care.)
The date for when you hate nature but love s’mores: indoor camping! (For the wuss in everyone.)
The camping date set up was actually really fun! I realized putting a little more effort into preparing for the main event can actually add to the fun. I started by browsing Pinterest for some recipes I could make to go with the theme. Oh, it’s also probably important to the story is that I don’t cook at all. Unless toast and eggs count as cooking. In that case, I am a 5-star chef. Anyways… After making a plan (to reduce impulse buys), I headed to Target.
For food, I decided to make tinfoil dinners. Honestly? Not sure that I would do it again. It required DOUBLE the amount of time that the recipe called for, which was annoying. Still, it was a fun and hearty camping-themed meal. The flavors were good, and I was really just in it for the cute lil’ tinfoil wrappers anyway. In hindsight, I probably could have just wrapped literally anything in tinfoil for the visual effect. Eh. There’s a reason I stick to eggs and toast.
I set up a very poorly constructed blanket fort before Caleb got home, which he (thankfully) fixed while I was trying to will the meat to cook faster. In the interest of going as over the top as possible, I put on some campfire/outdoor sound effects from Youtube. It was silly, but that’s what made it fun. We set up old sheets over the futon and plugged up my laptop inside. The movie pick of the night was “Dazed and Confused.” It was pretty good. I know that 90’s teen movies aren’t exactly camping themed, but artfully made lumberjack movies are hard to come by.
For dessert, we had s’mores bites. HOLY COW, GO MAKE THESE RIGHT NOW. They are so easy. They’re so much more manageable to eat than traditional s’mores, and the ratio of chocolate to marshmallow is perfect. We may or may not have eaten half of the pan. Oops.
All in all, the date cost us about 10 bucks. We tried to use ingredients we already had at home and keep the dessert supplies list short. This kind of thing is totally not going to happen every week, but it was fun to see how different we could make a night while spending as little money as possible.
In some ways, I can’t help but feel lucky that we’re married young and without a lot of fudge room. We get to do ridiculous planning of dates at home together, work on problem solving as a team, and know what it’s like to not be distracted by stuff. It’s actually a blessing to spend time just being together. I’ll take s’more of that any day.