With Valentine's Day cards and decorations hitting the store shelves right even before Christmas is over, it's no wonder that some people have become turned-off by the commercialism of the sweethearts holiday.  While many folks go to great pains to reserve a dinner date at the fanciest of restaurants, others prefer the quiet elegance of a dinner date at home; some would offer that staying in is more romantic than going out.

So if you've made the decision to stay in this Valentine's Day - first off:  congratulations for paving your own way and not buckling to societies directives.  But even if you're staying at home because it's more-economical than eating a meal with an inflated Valentine's Day price, you can still make it a romantic dinner.

Sure - you don't need to change your grocery routine just for Valentine's Day;  You can easily buy a steak or lobster at the supermarket you usually shop at and it'll probably do just fine.  But if you're looking to take the meal to a different level - or, just wanting to impress your sweetheart with your culinary skills - you'll probably want to do a little better than the tired slice of beef on a pink Styrofoam tray.

Here are some suggestions for places to find food items that are perfect for a romantic dinner for two:

  • Superior Meats: Easy enough to find in South Superior (at 6301 Tower Avenue, Superior), Superior Meats boasts one of the better butcher counters in the Twin Ports.  Their website promises "butcher shop quality at supermarket prices".  Most days, you'll find a big selection of hand-cut steaks and chops, poultry, in-house brats and sausage, even beef sticks.  Superior Meats is also a full-service grocery store with a good selection of produce.  And while they don't sell wine, you will find cold beer in the cooler.
  • Old World Meats:  While their store is set back one block from Central Entrance (at 226 North Basswood Avenue, Duluth) - it would be easy for the uninitiated to miss this place - but that would be a shame.  With generations of experience in the Twin Ports butcher trade, Old World Meats also promises fresh cuts of meat that are perfect for impressing a loved one;  they're also known for their in-store-smoked sausages. They also carry a limited selection of grocery needs.
  • Whole Food Co-Op:  With two locations in Duluth (610 E 4th Street and 4426 Grand Avenue), Whole Foods Co-Op is a great place to shop for those "hard-to-find  ingredients that make a memorable meal.  Blessed with a deli and organic produce, the store promises that their food is as local as possible.
  • Stokke's Meat Market:  Now that they've opened a third location, Stokke's is a great option for good quality ingredients to make a special Valentine's Day dinner.  The butchers at Stokke's might be newer the game (they've been around about 15 years) but that doesn't mean that their meat products are any lesser.  Think steaks and sausage - even seafood.    Stokke's is located in Adolph, Proctor, and Lakewood.

But don't let your romantic food journey end there.  Even if you don't search out ingredients from these local specialty food markets, you'll always find what you need for your recipes at the supermarket you shop at every week.  Just be imaginative with your recipe and your menu and your loved one will surely appreciate it.