Saint Valentine's Day is coming up, a holiday meant to commemorate your love through the purchase of mass produced greeting cards, written by someone who probably hates her job. It is also a very big night in the restaurant business, with most restaurants in the country being forced to contrive a romantic, fixed price menu for two. But in reality, going out on February 14th (or even a few of the surrounding days) is an often terrible idea. In light of that, we present our Top 5 Reasons to Stay Home and Cook on Valentine's Day.

5. Restaurants Have Higher Prices, Limited Selections:

Right now, the trash folder of our email account is filled with publicity emails declaring the culinary wonders of their amazing chef's extremely romantic dinner menus. There is a lot of champagne, and much ravioli; and there are heart-shaped goat cheese appetizers, romaine hearts, and hearts of palm. These menus are also, generally, pretty expensive. So taking your loved one out to your favorite romantic restaurant often means that you'll be paying more money, but without the option of ordering what you really like there. Save your money for when the restaurant is at its best.

4. Profit Trumps Romance:

Guess what? The restaurant business is, in the end, a business. So when Valentine's Day comes along, it is in the business's best interest to make as much money off of this holiday cash cow as possible. Yes, they want you to enjoy yourselves, and theoretically come back next year too — hence, all the balloons — but let's be honest. The more tables they can turn, the better it is for business. So how do you turn tables faster? By cooking from a carefully chosen set menu, all night long.

3. Good Chance of Mediocrity:

Maybe you're a big shot, and don't care about dropping three hundred bucks (not counting candy, and extra-expensive holiday flowers), but you should still care about avoiding a sub-par meal. After all, you'll have made the reservation days or weeks beforehand, and then find yourself sitting down to a bowl of Mussels For Two, which you may or may not be in the mood for anymore. And you know the term, “in the weeds?” That's going to be every restaurant on Valentine's Day. So in other words, you'd better hope your date has poor taste in food, but loves your personality.

The dining room at Mélisse; Credit: Flickr/burnfat

The dining room at Mélisse; Credit: Flickr/burnfat

2. It's the Busiest Restaurant Night of the Year:

As is often said, Mother's Day is the busiest restaurant day of the year, and Valentine's is the busiest night. One thing this means is that you are getting a very different clientele than usual. Sometimes, that can be exciting. Other times, it makes you want to jam a salad fork into your temple. Think: guys with sideburns and Von Dutch hats, talking on their cell phones in the middle of the dining room at Mélisse. “Hey! Yeah, that sounds great! We're just out for Valentine's Day. Yeah. Sweet. See you later!”

1. Cooking is Better:

Cooking is a far more impressive skill than taking out a credit card. Also, everyone can cook. Really. Even if you've never cooked, this is the perfect time to try it out. It will be more romantic, more personal, and leave you extra money to spend on better wine, and nicer gifts. If you're really afraid of cooking, stick to something simple, like Marcella Hazan's absurdly easy and frighteningly delicious tomato sauce, served with store-bought pasta, or gnocchi, or ravioli. We promise, it is almost impossible to screw up. It requires just two pots, four ingredients, and no knife skills whatsoever.

Finally, if you're really worried that your relationship won't make it unless one of you forks over a ton of money on dinner and prizes — see a therapist or break up. Seriously, if one or both of you can't enjoy a romantic dinner at home, then there aren't enough Red Velvet Cocktails in the world to save you.

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