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Make Valentine’s Day special…and affordable

February 9th, 2009

I find Valentine’s Day a welcome break between the holidays and spring. However, everything connected with the holiday seems to cost money—cards, flowers, a special dinner out… 

What does your family do to celebrate Valentine’s and not spend a lot of money?

When our four children were young, we dimmed the lights, added a candle to the table and enjoyed a candlelight dinner. Sometimes we cut out and hung red and white paper hearts for decorations. Sometimes we created homemade cards (and we still do).

The food wasn’t gourmet. The kids liked simple foods and they wanted to be involved. Pizza is a hit with most kids. The crust can be shaped into a heart shape for the occasion, and the kids can make their own pizza from an assortment of toppings. Cranberry oatmeal snack bars are an idea for dessert or a snack.

Now our kids are grown. If my husband and I want to go out for a special meal, we try to do it on a day other than Valentine’s Day. We find it less busy and the food is a better quality. If going out is important to you, check eating out for some ideas on how to spend less.

Maybe you have a way to make Valentine’s special for your family…I’d love to hear about it.

Cranberry Oatmeal Snack Bars


  • 1 cup dried cranberries or raisins
  • 1/4 cup orange, pineapple, apple, or cranberry juice
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups quick cooking oats
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup margarine, softened (about 10 1/2 tablespoons)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)


  1. Wash hands.
  2. Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly coat a 13x9x2-inch baking pan with cooking spray; set aside.
  3. Combine the cranberries and juice in a microwavable bowl. Microwave on high 30 seconds. Let stand 10 minutes.
  4. Combine the flour, oats, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
  5. Beat the brown sugar and margarine together with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until well blended.
  6. Beating the eggs adds lightness and volume to the bars.
  7. Gradually stir in flour mixture, mixing well.
  8. Stir in cranberry mixture and nuts, if desired. Spread the dough evenly in prepared pan.
  9. Bake for 20 to 22 minutes or until the center is set. Cool completely on wire rack before cutting.

                                                                                              – contributed by Joyce Greving

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