Recession-busting outings for couples

Oct 15, 2008 at 3:00 p.m. ET

The recession is upon us. Even still, you don't want the fact that you have to be more frugal during this economic crunch to lose out on all the couple fun. Lucky for you, having a good time as a couple is not about where you go and what you do. When you're in love, it's about who you're with, right? So instead of asking your beau to take you out for a fancy dinner, try these free dates.

Fall Picnic

Go to Costco

Saturday and Sunday mornings, Costco (and perhaps other wholesale clubs) offer up various samples and snacks. From tasty apple chips to microwave meals to yummy condiments, going from stand to stand can be as good as going to a food festival. And the best part is, it's all free. If you and your date want to "splurge," you can buy more of your favorite sampled snack. Some wholesale stores also have video games set up so you can even take a break from the sampling with a friendly match.

Watch free TV online

If you and your man want to make it a Blockbuster night but don't want to spend the $4 for a DVD, there's a way to be entertained like so for free. Enter sites like and, where you can stream full-length TV series and more. Watch shows like CSI: New York, The Unit, 30 Rock, How I Met Your Mother -- along with oldies like Bewitched, Charlie's Angels and The Partridge Family-- to name but a few.

Go to parties

What better way to have a good time than to go to a great party?! The key here is for you and your beau to be guestsat them, not throw them. Hopefully the parties you're hitting empty-handed are not potluck shindigs (otherwise, you and your date will seldom get invited again).

If your invite doesn't request that you have to bring anything, then you're in luck. If you want to contribute, simply bring a $10-$20 bottle of wine. That certainly beats going to a fancy restaurant for a $100 dinner.

A kitchen adventure

Staying in for a dinner date but don't have the funds to order a fancy meal? You and your love can, instead, make stuff out of what you already have. Just open up your cupboards, find things in your refrigerator and voila. Just be careful -- check all expiration dates! Hopefully, you're creative and are well-versed in the kitchen. If not, you're in for a true adventure (and hopefully not a stomach ache).

Take a free class

Almost every neighborhood has a community center for its residents. Most community centers offer free or low-cost programs in the arts. From pottery to sports, you and your date can take advantages of all the free fun. I once did a pottery-painting class with a group of friends and we had the most fun. Why not exercise your frugal creativity with your lover?

Have a picnic

Depending on your location, you may still have some time to enjoy the great outdoors. One great way to take advantage of the great weather is by having a picnic with your significant other. You can pack sandwiches using ingredients that you already have in your kitchen. Or, take picnic out of the equation and merely bring a blanket and a couple of books and read outside together. You can talk in between chapters to get to know each other better. (Too cold? Try an ice-skating outing instead -- holding hands to keep each other upright.)

More dating advice:

7 Ways to make him ache for you
Does losing weight mean better sex?
How to sell yourself on a date