It’s Wednesday afternoon, but my mind is already on Sunday brunch.
“Where should we go this weekend?” reads a text from my friend. Saturday’s mimosas haven’t even left my system yet, but I’m already planning my next outing.
Minutes later, links to menus are flying back and forth between my G-chat windows.
“This place has apple wood smoked bacon and cheddar scones.”
“Peanut butter French toast? Yes, please.”
“We must try those apple cider donuts.”
My friends and I will spend the next few days casually talking about where we want to go, and what we want to eat. Ultimately, we’ll probably spend more time talking about the food than we will eating it.
And it’s not just brunch. Whether my book club is meeting at a cute French café or coworkers want to grab a bite after a long day, menus are being passed around and obsessed over.
The extensive menu planning doesn’t just happen in New York. Friends from San Francisco to Pittsburgh, Washington D.C. and Denver have admitted to thinking about their meals way in advance. Blessed with fast metabolisms and loose incomes, it’s something we can enjoy now before settling down to strollers and delivered groceries.
Much like modern dating, eating out has become staggering array of choice. Smartphone apps like Ness or Localeur make finding a restaurant easier than a date. My friends and I pore over images of ramen and cupcakes the same way we’d look at a dating profile. It’s like Tinder for food. But unlike the solitary swiping of a hookup app, this activity can be more social – and easier. Not only can we see photos of the menu choices, but also it’s simple to reserve a table or deliver dishes with the tap of a finger.
One reason companies are eager to roll out dining apps is because millennials are spending more when eating out. A recent study found that teenagers now devote more money on food and events than clothing. They want to make sure they are paying for the most delicious, Instagrammable meal. Flashy handbags or cars are being traded in for brag-worthy experiences at funky diners or the newest sushi joint.
But sometimes the food planning hits a speed bump when old school eateries don’t have a website or aren’t listed on the apps.
“I can’t go to a restaurant without looking at the menu first,” my best friend once admitted to me.
It makes sense: for a generation that operates on instant information, there’s a slight anxiety of going to a restaurant that doesn’t list its options.
But in those cases, we can turn to Yelp. The reviewing website, which mainly serves the 18 to 35-year-old crowd, allows people to post pictures of menus and see which meal is most popular. It’s brunch intel overload.
Not to say that this trend of researching a meal is bad. It broadens the conversation about food and helps you connect to your friends. Plus it helps us spend our money a little more wisely. With so much personal financial investment going into a meal, why wouldn’t millennials want to plan the experience?
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