The Best Valentine's Day Foods To Buy That Aren't Chocolate

There are many ways to say "I love you" — from heartfelt words to fresh cut flowers. But the pressure is on each and every year on February 14, aka Valentine's Day. The feast of Saint Valentine has now evolved into a day where we quite literally feast, as we shower our loved one with affection and most importantly gifts, often in the form of food. Historically, in our commercialized world at least, that has meant one thing: copious amounts of chocolate.

The sweet stuff is so intrinsically linked to the holiday that from January until February 14, it is downright near impossible to pass a Valentine's display without seeing mountains upon mountains of chocolate — from white chocolate to dark and beyond. Here, our tastes aren't nearly as vanilla and we are always looking to up the ante in the gift department. After all, chocolate is so blasé when you could instead be wowing your loved one with a prime dry-aged Delmonico ribeye or a handcrafted small batch of popcorn. If you love them, let them know in a big way.

Here are the best Valentine's Day foods to buy that aren't chocolate.

Go 'Lady and the Tramp' with fresh pasta and sauce

Few things warm the soul (and heart) like a home-cooked meal. Looking to wow your beloved? This year, it is time to step things up in the kitchen as you go "Lady and the Tramp" style with a meal of fresh pasta and sauce. OK, we get that time is limited so we're not asking you to make your own sauce from scratch as we know you value more time with your special someone. Our solution? Invest in a quality-made, ready-to-eat sauce instead.

Our current favorite is a newcomer to the market but already has become a staple in our homes. Corleone Fine Italian uses high-quality ripe Southern Italian tomatoes and legacy olives. All of the products are sourced directly from Italy and used in its line of Sicilian olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and tomato sauce. Our favorite is the tomato basil, which offers a subtle sweetness that is balanced out by aromas of fresh garlic and herbs.

Of course, you will need some quality pasta to go along with it. Homemade pasta can at times be a total nightmare but have no fear; no bulky pasta maker is needed. There are plenty of high-quality, fresh-made pastas ready to grab from the shelves. For example, Buitoni. Readily available in most supermarkets, Buitoni has been dominating the fresh, refrigerated pasta game for years, thanks to timeless recipes and quality ingredients, including excellent durum wheat.

Make the holiday pop with some gourmet popcorn

We are all about indulging in a sweet treat but that moment is infinitely better when we're supporting a family-run small business. Ella's Popcorn is a small batch popcorn company run by a mother-daughter duo. The idea sparked at Ella's seventh birthday party but has since taken off with an entire line of gourmet popcorns expertly crafted with the finest of ingredients, like imported chocolate.

It is all about elevating the family treat at Ella's Popcorn and after one bite, you'll understand. Now with a line of sweet, savory, vegan, and even seasonal flavors, there's a little something for everyone — from the bestselling "zebra" that started it all to a "buffalo ranch" that packs a punch. Our favorite is the strawberry hibiscus that embraces a sweet meets tart flavor profile with notes of sweet strawberries and silky white chocolate shining through.

They say don't mess with a good thing, and Garrett Popcorn has been a Chicago tradition since 1949. Its small batch popcorn is air-popped each and every day. While they have since reached global commercial appeal, the company remains a classic and for good reason. Few can resist the famous Garrett Mix, which combines savory cheddar with a rich caramel.

Sweeten up the festivities with nostalgic candy

Although we may be forgoing the chocolate this year, you can still make candy and confectionaries a part of the celebration. What better way to do that than by embracing a bit of playful nostalgia of our yesteryears. Bazooka Candy brands, today a division of The Topps Company, have been practically ingrained in our memories since childhood, a fixture of many great moments of adolescence. The iconic brand is now celebrating 75 years of what all began with the Bazooka Joe Gang and its beloved gum — and we haven't stopped gobbling up the good stuff since.

Maybe a diamond ring isn't in the cards this Valentine's Day, but you could still make that Ring Pop, the classic candy featuring an oversized sugary gem. Topps is still doling out these memorable candies today, from Push Pops to Baby Bottles Pops, and continuing to reinvent themselves with wildly creative variations of our old friends, like Juicy Drop Candy Canes and an oversized Ring Pop. Valentine's Day has never been sweeter.

Serve grapes in the form of wine

The world of wines is a convoluted one to say the least. With thousands of brands to choose from, a visit to the liquor store could quickly sour. These days, you don't have to be a master sommelier — or a millionaire — to have a sip of the good stuff. The affordably priced Gnarly Head, for example, has been wowing aspiring wine experts since 2004. Produced in Lodi, California, they have mastered the art of creating bold and authentic zinfandel. They've since gone on to produce other varieties with grapes from some of the best vineyards in California, but the OG — Old Vine Zin — remains our favorite, thanks to its complex layers of jammy berries and spices.

Still can't decide on which wine is right for your big night? Get some expert advice. Long Island-based sommelier Jessica Green, owner of Down the Rabbit Hole Wine Boutique, offers a fun and approachable way to tackle the task at hand with private wine classes. We also can't get enough of the antics from sommelier and wine influencer Samantha Sommelier. The connoisseur offers virtual wine tastings and even a wine club, and an "easygoing BFF approach" to learning about wine.

Pair your chosen wine with cheese

If you have settled on some wine for the big day, it is only right that you accompany that with some cheese; it would be pure blasphemy without. Much like choosing the right wine, pairing that wine with a cheese can offer another complex layer to your planning. If you didn't know that cabernet sauvignon pairs with a strong cheese, like aged cheddar — or that a zesty zinfandel goes best with a manchego, that is a-OK.

The easiest way to impress your special somebody? Pre-curated cheese selections. Our favorite just happens to be readily available at Costco and other retailers nationwide. Cello offers a wide variety of cheeses from its vast rolodex of options, including a Tuscan rubbed Fontal and a red wine soaked goat. Making your life even easier, each package clearly marks the best beverages to pair your cheeses with. You simply plate and voila!

For the ultra uninspired, you can also order expertly pre-curated, ready-to-go charcuterie sets. These take out all the guesswork, resulting in a relaxing (and delicious) evening.

Give a gift of sweet madeleines

If you have an affinity for sweet things, you're likely already familiar with Sugar Bowl Bakery. The Vietnamese-owned bakery that uses French baking techniques has been wowing the aisles of Costco and beyond. The palmiers, which many people refer to as "croissant cookies," magically blend sweet with chewy and crunchy textures resulting in one of the best pastry goods you have ever tried. The brownie bites also continue to wow us, leaving us utterly shocked that they were not freshly baked just minutes prior.

One of our favorite products is its madeleines. Using a traditional French recipe, the result is a soft and buttery cookie with a moist, cake-like texture. The madeleine classics are superb, but Sugar Bowl also dishes out seasonal varieties, including a raspberry-dipped madeleine and a pumpkin spice.

While we will never judge, one of the neatest parts about this company's products is that they are individually sized, just right in case you don't want to go totally overboard.

Say 'I love you' with meat

Few things are more romantic than a big ole plate of meat. OK, we will admit that that sounds a little odd to say. But, many times when we think of romantic dinners, our mind goes right to an upscale steakhouse. This year, say "I love you" with meat. Ditch the crowded restaurant and white cloth-laden table and instead feast your fancies on the most tender of filets or chock-full of flavor ribeyes right from the comforts of your own home.

Viby steakhouse, STK, recently introduced a "meat market" offering. Guests can pick up any number of award-winning cuts of meat, including USDA Prime dry-aged steaks and Wagyu, and prepare it for themselves right in their own kitchens. The swanky steakhouse also ships directly to your household via Goldbelly — your wallets may not be happy but your stomachs will. Other beloved steakhouses, including New York City institution Keens Steakhouse, can also be found on the direct-to-doorstep service, with the option to include its famous creamed spinach.

Go big or go home with some lobster

Since it is the most romantic time of the year, there's no better time than now to pull out all the stops. How might one do that? Well, after placing your order for one of those incredibly tender, center cut filet mignons noted above, the only natural pairing would be ... a lobster tail.

Our go-to stop for all things "under the sea" is the seafood counter at Whole Foods. In addition to a knowledgeable staff, we know we are getting the very best of the best of responsibly farmed or sustainable wild-caught fish and crustaceans.

For the times when we don't feel like leaving our homes, though, this is where Lobstergram comes in. The name is catchy and the product is even better. Available for delivery anywhere in the United States, the fresh made-to-order company brings sustainably sourced live Maine lobsters and lobster tails directly to your door. Its fool-proof system also provides you with all the tools, including guides and hands-on videos, for you to whip up a restaurant-quality meal.

Share a 'piz-za' your heart with pizza

Just like your feelings for your one and only, our love of pizza knows no bounds. There are few things as delicious and satisfying as the combination of crunchy crust, tangy sauce, and luscious cheese. Swoon. Since it's a special day, the familiar Domino's or Pizza Hut just won't do. This Valentine's Day, you can share a "piz-za" your heart by dishing out a slice from one of our country's finest establishments.

Lover of Chicago deep-dish pizza but located on the coast in Florida? No problem. Many of your favorite deep-dish pizza purveyors, including Pequod's Pizza and Lou Malnati's, are now available for delivery. Or perhaps have a hankering for the Jersey Shore classic that is Maruca's Tomato Pies? They've been delighting boardwalk visitors for decades and are now also available to be delivered direct to you, wherever you're located (in the domestic United States). What better time than Valentine's Day to see what all the fuss is about. Adam Richman would be proud.

Whip up artisan churros to rival the theme parks

Few treats are synonymous with theme parks like the churro. The classic Spanish pastry has long been adopted by America, becoming a staple at theme parks, fairs, and festivals. With a sweet and crunchy exterior that is then loaded with cinnamon sugar, what is not to love? If a trip to the parks isn't in the cards this Valentine's Day, though, there is a solution for your churro cravings.

San Diablo Artisan Churros started as a food-truck business but proved to be so popular that they have since expanded with at-home churro DIY kits (via Parenting Healthy). The Churro Fiesta in a Box provides everything you need to make the most irresistible, drool-worthy churro creations. With step-by-step instructions, you will turn the award-winning dry churro mix into delicious gourmet treats. In addition to classic cinnamon sugar with freshly ground cinnamon, there is also Mexican caramel and  Dulce de Leche that are sure to elevate these beauties into full-blown masterpieces.

Cure your wanderlust with international treats

We have all experienced wanderlust at one point or another. It's that insane desire to go far, far away from your mundane daily life and explore uncharted territories and foreign lands. Maybe you're lusting for a walk through the cobblestoned streets of Paris (vin chaud in hand) or maybe it's for the exotic flavors and energizing vibes of a Tokyo street market.

An international jaunt may not be in the cards for you right now — for a multitude of reasons — but a few companies have gotten clever to help us get through.

The world of subscription box delivery services is vast to say the least. But, it's not leggings or makeup we are interested in. Bokksu is a monthly subscription that is dishing out authentic Japanese snacks that are carefully curated. Snacks are locally sourced, not your standard Pocky, and come from throughout the regions of Japan. The provided booklet is equally fun and shares a little more about your snacks and where they were sourced from.

G'day Gourmet, meanwhile, may be Philadelphia-based but they are shipping honest to goodness, authentic Aussie meat pies direct to your humble abode. What started as a food truck is now a full blown national operation. The all-butter crust is loaded with farm-to-table, organic ingredients, including a chicken and leek variety, and they are utterly delicious.

Give a bit of agave in the form of booze

If you are looking to turn things up a notch, there is no better way to do that than with some tequila. Our favorite brand of the distilled spirit made from the blue agave plant just happens to be Don Julio. Not only is it arguably one of the most popular tequilas, but the success of Don Julio could be attributed to its very specific process of production. Plants are grown on mineral-rich soils and harvested by hand. While a 1942 is a sure fire way to impress a loved one, its recent release, Don Julio Primavera, has been stealing the spotlight. This next level reposado is finished in orange wine casks, resulting in a silky liquor that goes down smooth with notes of honey agave and a bit of spice.

If you have more of a modest budget, Tequila Tromba will also impress. Created by one of Mexico's most esteemed master distillers, Marco Cedano, its spirit dazzles with a standout reposado that is made from 7- to 12-year-old blue Weber agave plants.

Add some spice to your life — literally

If you are looking to spice things up (in the kitchen, we mean!), now is a better time than ever to upgrade your pantry staples. Quality-made seasonings and spices can breathe life into even the most mundane dishes. Bona Furtuna may be known for its standout olive oils but the brand has further explored its Sicilian roots and seriously impressed us with its herb and salt blends. Direct from Italy, the blends range from sea salt with truffle and wild forged fennel pollen to Mamma Rose's Herb Blend — an ode to the founder's grandma. A little dash here and there of these handcrafted, quality ingredients have made everyday dishes in our kitchen pop.

Fly By Jing has quickly amassed a near cult-like following thanks to its 100% all-natural Sichuan chili sauce, but we have dove further into the collection and it's the lineup of spices that have stolen a piece of our hearts. Proudly crafted in Chengdu, Fly By Jing brings the flavors of China directly to your kitchen. We will not shy away from sprinkling the mala spice mix, a blend of 11 herbs and spices, on literally everything.

Elevate a meal with gourmet condiments

Another way to take a boring dish from blah to wow is with some quality gourmet condiments. We have long been fans of Bachan's Japanese Barbecue sauce. Developed from an old family recipe, according to Insider, it uses only the highest level ingredients — including toasted sesame oil and Japanese-brewed soy sauce. This velvety perfection of a sauce has recently seen an upgrade with the new line that includes yuzu. We didn't know we could love its products even more, but alas, here we are. Using yuzu juice sourced straight from Japan, the result is both tart and flavorful.

Unless you have been living under a rock, you are more than likely aware that the world of condiments is "all truffle everything." It is no surprise, as the addition of the powerful mushroom adds a flavorful punch to everything, from pizza to pasta. The king of truffle products remains TRUFF. While the classic version has been our go-to, we have been loving its hotter version of late. This has the same classic flavoring of the original but with the addition of some serious heat. Spicy lovers rejoice!

Scream for ice cream

The amount of joy ice cream brings us is unmatched. The childhood favorite is intangibly linked to so many memories, from family outings to first dates. Our beloved treat has been given the adult upgrade, thanks to N!CK'S Ice Cream. The Swedish brand ice-packs the flavor without all the unnecessary junk. This means each entire pint will only set you back a few hundred calories while also being low in carbs and fat. The secret is in the use of natural sweeteners, including monk fruit and raisins. One bite of the birthday cake flavor or triple chocolate and you will have no idea it is light ice cream.

For those that embrace a true "go big or go home" attitude, it is only fitting that indulging in The Cheesecake Factory At Home's line of ice creams would create the recipe for a perfect holiday. These decadent desserts are made with a signature cream cheese blend and sour cream, and the result is an incredibly creamy and flavorful ice cream. With the likes of salted caramel, strawberry, and key lime to pick from, our favorite is the original — a cheesecake-flavored ice cream with graham swirls throughout.