They are words that so many of us dread to hear…’we need to start doing date nights’. There’s something unspoken in those seven words suggestive of a spark long since extinguished. Of a passion put to bed rather than felt there. Of a desperate attempt to relight the fire, and one which can end up being both futile and costly. But it doesn’t necessarily have to be the latter. Indeed, putting the fun back into your relationship can be done on the cheap. Here’s how; our 5 IDEAL tips for doing date nights on a budget.

A MEAL OUT

Dinners out can be pretty costly, especially when the onus is on romantic and spontaneous. ‘Shall we get the champagne, the supplements, the tasting menu….?’ It all mounts up.

But there are ways to eat out on the cheap. One of the best is via supermarket loyalty points, which accumulate fairly quickly and can be exchanged for vouchers to be used in a range of restaurants. Also, keep an eye out for soft launches from potential restaurants, as well as opening week offers, as these can represent incredibly cut price options for those happy to try a new opening and give a little feedback. Finally, plenty of high end restaurants offer mid week and lunchtime set menus for a fraction of their usual price. Check out some more of our tips on Michelin starred dining on the cheap here. Food for thought, indeed.

FILMS FROM THE SOFA

Alternatively, a meal at home, cooked with love, followed by a film curled up together on the sofa can be a lovely intimate date night. We all know the score; being in public and on show can be limiting in its scope for romance and affection, preventing you from gazing into one another’s eyes longingly and the rest. The key here is to not view a ‘night in’ as being ‘on budget’, but rather an opportunity to spend some cherished time together, alone. Whether you’re watching action films on Netflix or a horror movie via Amazon Prime, taking the time to hold hands and share a bowl of popcorn can transport you back to those heady days of first dating. And that’s what we’re after here, right?

A PICNIC IN THE PARK

During the warmer summer months, it can be lovely to prepare a simple picnic and enjoy it in a nearby park or beach. There’s something about the fresh air and wind in your hair that can really dust off the cobwebs of a relationship gone stale. Remember to pack a blanket, so you can snuggle up together and watch the sun set. Just make sure you pack the right grub (and utensils) for the task; there’s nothing quite like leaky tupperware, soggy sandwiches and having to swig straight from the Prosecco bottle to ruin the romance.

A NIGHT WALK

For an activity which will cost you nothing, grant some excellent exercise and work up a little sweat – nope, not that – consider taking a night time walk with your loved one. Holding hands whilst strolling and shooting the breeze can represent remarkably valuable time together, as it’s a no phones, no distractions, no cost zone. Should you be leaving the tech at home (really, you should) then of course remember to bring a map and torch, unless ‘getting lost’ is all part of the adventure for you.

A BIKE RIDE

Probably best suited to the summer months, why not head out on your bikes and cycle to nearby villages? There are so many incredible things to explore in the countryside – from churches to castles, and lakes to woodland. Alternatively, why not check out nearby pubs; a pub cycle-crawl, if you will. Pop in for a drink or two (remember your alcohol limits) and enjoy a change of scenery. Bliss.

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Rachel is the beauty and fashion director at IDEAL. She loves trying new products and is an avid fan of London's fashion, from the high end to the high street.