The Signal

Serving the College since 1885

Friday April 19th

On a budget this Valentine’s Day? Cook a restaurant quality dinner for two with less than $30

This easy steak dinner for two can be made for under $30. (Photo courtesy of Zachary Rice)
This easy steak dinner for two can be made for under $30. (Photo courtesy of Zachary Rice)

By Zachary Rice

Valentine’s Day has snuck up on us once again and everyone with a loved one is expected to express their love with flowers, candies and of course, dinners. These dinners can get rather pricey for a college student but the good news is that it is possible to cook a steak dinner for two for under $30. 

Rachel Guloy is a junior psychology major and Townhouse South resident here at the College who has to do Valentine’s Day on a budget but still wants to do something from the heart for her girlfriend. 

Guloy is cooking from home to have a special night in, and there are many cooking options at the College. Hausdorfer and Phelps have stovetops in the actual apartments which makes it easy to cook. Decker Hall contains community kitchens on every other floor.

In the Townhouses, there is a full community kitchen in each of the lounges. Though there is a full stove and oven, students must walk outside to access the kitchen. Guloy said this barrier is why she hasn’t cooked in the community kitchen before.

“I feel like you need to do a lot of planning in order to use the one here within our complex,” Guloy said.

Choosing a simple meal that looks sophisticated is the key. A very simple dish is a flat iron steak with chimichurri and pasta in a roasted tomato sauce. Walmart contains many grocery items at an affordable rate, and the College is only a 15 minute drive from the nearest Walmart in Hamilton. 

The first step to this steak dinner is a light and fresh chimichurri sauce, which is a perfect pairing for your steak. This only requires salt, pepper, parsley, shallots, garlic, white wine vinegar and olive oil. All of these ingredients should cost about $10, but the olive oil and garlic will be used later on as well. 

Finely mince all of your ingredients and add them to a bowl. Coat this in salt and pepper, and then add a couple squirts of lemon juice, along with enough olive oil and vinegar to begin submerging the dry ingredients. Mix them together, and then put your finished chimichurri in the fridge until you are ready to serve.

After this comes the pasta portion. At Walmart, you can get a pound of the Great Value brand of pasta for $0.98. First bring a big pot of water to a boil, then put your pasta in and let the pasta cook for around eight minutes, and finally strain into a colander. 

While your pasta is boiling, make the sauce by cutting cherry, grape or plum tomatoes in half and cooking them down on a medium/low heat in a small pot with olive oil coating the bottom. Walmart has 10 oz. packages of cherry tomatoes for as little as $2.98. Once they start to prune a little, grind some salt into the pot and add crushed red pepper flakes in conservatively. 

It is now time for the star of your dish. A flat iron steak is a boneless cut which comes from the top of the shoulder of the cow and is very cheap, usually in the range of $4 to $7 per steak. 

First, season the steak on all sides with salt and pepper. Then place it in your pan on medium-high heat and make sure you have olive oil coating the bottom of the pan with garlic clove in there for extra flavor.

After a few minutes, flip. Make sure you are pressing down the center and edges to get a nice even sear. After another few minutes, raise the heat to high to get a crispy sear on the steak. Then make sure you put the edges of the steak on the pan to brown them up. Let your steak rest for half as long as you cooked it for and then slice and plate it. 

When you are ready to plate, put your desired amount of pasta in the small saucepan and coat it generously. Transfer it to the plate, and arrange your steak slices how you would like. One option is an overlapping curve of steak leading to a refreshing mound of chimichurri with pasta on the side. 

“I think convenience plays a big part in how much effort people are willing to put in to avoid paying a ton of money for dinner,” said Guloy. “You can make this meal in under an hour and save about half the price of a regular dinner out while providing a fun and new experience for you and your loved one.”


  • Salt

  • Pepper

  • Parsley

  • Shallots

  • Garlic

  • White Wine Vinegar

  • Olive Oil 

  • Lemon juice

  • Pasta

  • Cherry, grape or plum tomatoes

  • Crushed red pepper flakes

  • Flat iron steak


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