How long has it been since you spent romantic time (or even any) in the middle of the day with your spouse? When couples get married it doesn’t take long to settle into a routine. Most of us are busy with jobs and children and other activities and don’t often think about romance in the middle of the day. But that is precisely why you should. The element of surprise and spontaneity are what makes lunchtime dates such a success.

When you’re on a budget, a lunchtime date can be a real bonus. Lunch meals are cheaper meals that will enrich your love life without emptying out your wallet. How do you plan a lunch date with your spouse? Here are a few suggestions for surprising your spouse with a workday romantic lunch for two:

Romantic Lunch, Step One:

Check your spouse’s schedule. This may require hatching a plan with someone on your spouse’s job if lunch hours are scheduled. Whether you are taking your spouse out for lunch or providing a picnic lunch in the office, you’ll need to know when a good time is to take your sweetheart out. Keep your lunch date a surprise from your spouse if at all possible to make it more fun. Be sure to allow enough time for a relaxed meal. Again, enlist the aid of your spouse’s boss and/or coworkers to set the stage.

Romantic Lunch, Step Two:

Decide on a menu. You may want to fix something at home to stay within your budget. Cold cut sandwiches, cheese and fruit, sparkling cider and something simple like appetizers are not time consuming or expensive. Pack everything in a pretty picnic basket or decorated box. Don’t forget to bring along glasses, plates, flatware, and napkins. If you decide to eat at a restaurant, be sure to call ahead for specials and prices so you are not surprised and know you are within your budget. Nothing ruins a romantic date like going in debt to pay for a meal.

Romantic Lunch, Step Three:

It’s show time. Once all the plans have been made, you’ll want to arrive a bit early to your spouse’s workplace. If you can get a coworker to distract your spouse so you can set up your surprise, all the better. You may want to enjoy your lunch outside if there is a park nearby or even a nice green area. If you have a town square with a fountain close by you may want to set up your blanket and picnic there. Water features are always so romantic!  But no matter what the setting, simply getting away from work can help set a romantic mood. If your lunch date is at a restaurant, be sure to arrive early and give yourself plenty of time to get to and from the restaurant. And do request that table in the corner!

When planning is your idea of fun. Surprising your loved one with a lunch date may not be possible or even desirable for you. You may be the type of couple that likes planning things together. In planning lunch dates with your spouse you have the added bonus of the anticipation for both of you.

If scheduling lunch dates is more your speed, you just need to do a few things first. Of course, you’ll want to decide on the day, but then let the fun begin. You may want to start figuring out where you want to meet for lunch by going down memory lane. Remember some of the dates that you had when you were just getting to know each other. Where did you go? What did you both like about those places? Recreate those experiences and feelings, and you and your spouse will recreate the romance.

Going back in time and reliving some of your younger dates while you plan has another advantage. When you were young and first dating, you probably didn’t have much money. Lunch and dinner dates were very often quite creative in order to eat on limited funds. Recreating those moments will save you money which means you can meet for lunch more often! You probably brown-bagged it, ate at hot dog stands, or at inexpensive sidewalk cafes. You may have even stopped in a theater and bought a bag of popcorn for lunch! These cheap dates are the things that memories are made of. Eat like kids and you’ll feel young at heart.

But dates aren’t all about eating. If you are in the park, bring a Frisbee or a football. Toss it around a bit to enjoy a few laughs. If you are on a lake with paddle boats, take a ride and enjoy the solitude to talk and reconnect. Lay back on your picnic blanket and talk. Learn something new about your spouse and remember why you fell in love in the first place. Play like kids and you’ll feel young at heart, too.

You and your spouse deserve a little time for sweet talk and laughter in the middle of the day. A lunchtime date can bring out your inner romantic in the most ordinary day; and lead to even more romance in the evening!