• Nisha Willis

A Gen Z’s Guide to an Affordable Holiday Brunch (with recipes!)

Updated: May 22

Impress your friends for the holidays with these easy and affordable brunch recipes.

It’s that time of year again! We’re all layering up, cuddling up, and scrambling to find that perfect pair of holiday pants hidden in the back of our winter storage. You know, the ones with the extra-stretchable elastic waistband – perfect for stuffing your gut with stuffing. Normally, we’re so excited in preparation for the evening’s feast that many of us don’t even eat breakfast (or we snack as we cook; shout out to my taste-testers!), starving ourselves until the woman in charge announces dinner’s completion.

I had been all for this tradition until I became responsible for Thanksgiving dinner. I shed a single tear from my right eye as I swiped away more than $150 worth of ingredients for my family’s traditional feast. I shed a few more as I took hours preparing it. Now, if you’re the frugal spender and lazy cook that I am, you’re never really excited to host Thanksgiving. You would much rather house hop to other people’s gatherings, gathering hefty plates as you go. All the joy of eating beyond your fill without the hassle of whipping up dishes and clearing out your bank account.

Unfortunately, I live a state away from my personal ‘hop-able’ houses and traveling on an empty stomach is no fun. So, inspired by my friends Alexus and John’s annual Christmas brunch, I decided to host a holiday brunch of my own for a few of my fellow, fiscally unable, house-hopping friends. With a $40 total budget, we gathered to make a holiday brunch that’ll leave you plenty of time, and gas money to hop on over to those traditional dinners that your wallet isn’t responsible for.

Check out our recipes and pictures below!

Chicken Enchiladas

You'll be eating turkey all evening. Why not stray from tradition with this easy Mexican favorite.

Est. Prep/Cook Time: 45 min

Serves 4-6 people


  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

  • 16 oz of sour cream

  • 1 pack of white corn tortillas

  • 1 pack of shredded Mexican cheese

  • 1 can of green chilies

  • 1 can of olives (optional)

  • 1 can of tomato paste

  • Olive or vegetable oil

  • Milk


  1. Preheat oven to 350°.

  2. Boil chicken until tender.

  3. Fry tortilla shells in oil (Not too hard! They need to be able to roll).

  4. Shred cooked chicken into a bowl and mix in tomato paste and green chilies.

  5. Pour sour cream into a mixing bowl. Slowly add in milk and mix to a smooth consistency.

  6. Dip or cover tortillas in sour cream mixture.

  7. Fill tortillas with chicken filling, roll, and place in baking pan.

  8. Cover in shredded Mexican cheese and olives (optional)

  9. Bake at 350° for 20 min. Remove, cool, and enjoy!

Our edits: A very special thanks to Alexus for this recipe. It was one of my favorites at her gatherings. At our brunch, we chose to substitute flour tortillas out of preference, resulting in a softer textured tortilla. We also decided to season our chicken while boiling it, since my sorority sisters were so opposed to having ‘wet-chicken’ on their plate. The tomato paste canceled out much of that seasoning, but if you, like my sisters, must season your chicken, salt and pepper would be great options. We aren’t huge fans of olives, so they were omitted from our dish.

Creamy Jalapeño Scrambled Eggs

Just like regular scrambled eggs, but better. This Korean-inspired dish will change the way you eat scrambled eggs forever. Well, maybe not, but they are so delicious. You won’t regret trying them once or twice.

Est. Prep/Cook Time: 7-10 minutes

Serves 4 people


  • 6 Large eggs

  • Milk (optional)

  • 3 tbsp of jalapeño cream cheese

  • Chopped mushrooms (optional)

  • Chopped spinach (optional)

  • Garlic powder

  • Salt

  • Pepper

  • Scallions

  • Butter or oil


  1. In a skillet coated with butter or oil, sauté veggies and season with garlic powder. Cook until tender.

  2. In a bowl, beat eggs with 1 tsp of milk (optional). Add to skillet with veggies. Add salt and pepper to taste.

  3. Gently fold in jalapeño cream cheese until eggs are done or cheese is melted.

  4. Top with scallions (optional) and enjoy!

Our edits: A special thanks to my father and his lady friend for this recipe. My friends were skeptical while I prepared these, but they changed their tune quickly after tasting them. If you’re a fan of spicy food I suggest adding chopped jalapeños. A bit of hot sauce or sriracha on top wouldn’t hurt either.

Cinnamon and Brown Sugar Pancakes

Every brunch needs a sweet treat, and these pancakes do not disappoint. A simple upgrade to boxed pancake mix. * Warning: No precise measurements are included in this recipe. Add ingredients at your own risk! *

Est. Prep/Cook Time: 15 minutes

Serves 4-6 people


  • Boxed pancake mix

  • ¼ cup light brown sugar

  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon

  • Dash of vanilla extract

  • Milk (amount indicated on pancake mix)

  • Butter or oil


  1. Prepare pancake batter as instructed on the box. (Use milk instead of water for a richer taste!)

  2. Add brown sugar, cinnamon, and a dash of vanilla extract to batter. Mix well. Batter should be slightly thick and light brown in color.

  3. Pour a spoonful of batter into a nonstick pan lined with butter or oil. Cook for 3-4 minutes, flipping halfway. (A great trick is to flip when the top begins to boil.)

  4. Top with butter (optional) and enjoy!

Our edits: We made these without measuring cups so most of our measurements were guesstimated. Be careful not to add too much vanilla, you don’t need the whole bottle. A dash will do the trick. For best results, consult with the spirits of your ancestors when determining, “Is this enough?”

We paired our brunch with turkey bacon and a glass of chilled, cheap Moscato (mimosas can get quite expensive). There were grits (with salt!), but they never made it to the table. Regardless, we left our brunch with our plates clean and the bands of our leggings fully stretched!

Like any of these recipes? Try them with your friends and family and leave us some pictures in the comments. We’d love to see how yours came out!