As Valentine’s Day approaches, (10 days away), look for your local restaurants to start heavy advertising at the beginning of next week. Most restaurants do it all the same, they offer “2 for 1” dinners, free champagne or sparkling wine, or they even throw in a free dessert. With all of the Valentine’s Day restaurant deals, it always is more economical to stay in and cook at home.

Take your typical restaurant offering a “free bottle of wine with dinner” special. These days, and in a struggling economy fighting to rebound, discretionary income isn’t so easy to find. What’s wrong with buying a good steak or fish and cooking at home? You surely don’t have to wait in long lines to get to your dining room table.

This weekend, when you go to your local food store to go shopping, write down the going rates for fish and meats. Even jot down the prices, and put together a small menu in your head. Now you’ll know next week when you start seeing those local restaurant advertisements for the “deal of the year” dinner packages, whether or not you will do better staying home and cooking this year, or going out for a nice dinner.