I live in a city where brunch is everyone’s go-to activity. It’s insane – you can’t walk down one street or even alleyway in the city without passing half a dozen cafes.
Most of the time this is no problem, as I’m happy to eat at home. However, our local lingo has adapted so that whenever my friends want to catch up, it’s always ‘Let’s have brunch sometime!’ I feel bad saying no, but not as bad as I feel at spending an average of $20 for a latte and avocado toast (usually the only vegan option on the menu) every time I want to see my friends. Even worse is the dinner invitations, which usually means meals, drinks, transport…
So, for all those other twenty-somethings who want to see their friends without blowing the budget, I present five alternatives to brunch, so that instead of saying, ‘No thanks…’ you can start saying, ‘How about…’
1. Library dates
I don’t know about you, but libraries are seriously my happy place. What could be better than settling in to a cozy corner and spending some time reading? How about heading to a library with a friend and sharing your favourite picks with each other? Libraries are a wonderful, completely free resource, and activities in them are not limited to books. Meet up for a study or work date so you can both be productive (I do this with my sister all the time!), or stream a movie using the free wifi.
2. Park dates
One of the loveliest mornings I spent with a friend of mine was completely free of charge – we both made some baked treats at home and headed in to a picturesque park in the city on a sunny day. You don’t even need to bring snacks – a walk around the local park with a friend is good for your health (physical and mental!) as well as your wallet. Bonus points if you have a friend who lives within walking distance and you can meet halfway to walk around the block a couple of times! This is also a great way to quiet the inner ‘noise’ so much of us suffer from, put down the electronic devices and switch off for an hour or so.
3. Tea dates at home
There are many ways I’m actually an eighty-something stuck in a twenty-something’s body, and tea dates are one of them. Particularly good for early evening, when most people my age would say, ‘Do you want to go out for a drink?’, but my true friends know the way to my heart is, ‘Do you want to come to mine for a cup of tea?’. I usually have a batch of some kind of biscuit I’ve baked handy as well, but even without any extra nibbles, getting in to some pjs with a steaming cup of tea and a comfy couch sounds like a pretty divine way to catch up with friends.
4. Baking dates
You may have picked up a slight theme going on in the post so far. I love baking. (My apartment currently smells like these cinnamon rolls). I love baking because it is frugal, it is cheap, and it is most importantly delicious. So why not invite some friends over on a Saturday afternoon, bring a few ingredients each, and leave with goodie bags of baked goods, a mild sugar buzz from all the batter consumed while cooking, and a full heart from spending time together while being productive. Plus an added bonus if you’re about that frugal lifestyle – your snacks will be prepared for the next week or so! Nothing like mixing meal prep with socialising.
5. Coffee dates
Some people are stuck in the spending habits, and it’s hard to persuade them to do anything but head to their local cafe. If there’s no way to avoid spending money to see a friend, don’t feel bad for doing that. I will give you a tip though – stick to just coffee. People aren’t usually offended if you insist you don’t mind them eating, but you’ll just stick to a coffee – and the cost is significantly less. A coffee is usually around $4, a quarter of the price of most brunch meal options. If you’re not a coffee drinker, get a tea, or a soft drink (be careful ordering things like juices and smoothies, as cafes are quick to jack up the prices and they can become frighteningly expensive!). And don’t forget to dine in instead of takeaway, as disposable coffee cups can’t be recycled and are responsible for a huge amount of waste.
I hope these tips help you next time you’re stuck wanting to see a friend without blowing the budget. I find myself trying to turn dinner or brunch invitations into coffee dates on a weekly basis, so if you find success with these tips, leave me a comment and let me know.
Featured image: Caroline Attwood