By Megan Tullos |

With the recent viral trend of YouTube “What I Spend In a Week” videos, I’ve become a lot more conscious of my own personal spending habits. Like most college students, I spend the majority of my weekly budget on food. I don’t tend to make a lot of big purchases, but spending $7 on Chick-fil-a here and $5 on a smoothie there adds up a lot quicker than one might think. 

This week, I challenged myself not to eat out at all. I tracked what I ate and what I spent each day and compared it to a normal week of savings. At the beginning of the week, I spent $47.01 on groceries, and I already had some essentials like pasta and granola bars in my pantry. Was all the cooking worth it? Let’s find out. 

(A little disclaimer, I know everyone can afford different lifestyles, this is just my weekly spending!)

Monday

This day was a little crazy, with back to back classes and a two-hour practice exam in the evening, so my meals weren’t exactly gourmet. I also caved in and bought a coffee in the morning and tea before my practice exam. I wasn’t exactly off to the best start with this whole not eating out thing.

Breakfast: Blueberry bagel with cream cheese and a coffee from home 

Lunch: Bagel Bites and applesauce (apparently I am eight years old) 

Dinner: Pasta with red sauce and frozen meatballs

Snacks:  A small vanilla latte from Common Grounds and a small peach ginger tea from HteaO

Daily total: $6.75

 

Tuesday

Tuesdays are busy mornings for me, but the rest of my day was more relaxed and I had time to actually cook a meal. I was surprised how easy and delicious this one-pan garlic chicken pesto pasta recipe from Buzzfeed Tasty was. 

Breakfast: Trader Joe’s “This Pumpkin Walks Into a Bar” granola bar and a cup of coffee

Lunch: Chicken nuggets, frozen brussels sprouts and rice

Dinner: Garlic chicken pesto pasta 

Daily total: $0.00

 

Wednesday

Wednesday was the least busy day of my week by far! I had time to come home and make lunch, and luckily had leftover pasta in the fridge so I didn’t have to cook after coming home from Sing!. You’ve probably noticed that I eat a lot of roasted veggies, I use the frozen ones from this pack that are specifically cut for roasting!

Breakfast: Just a coffee…oops

Lunch: Organic chicken nuggets, roasted frozen brussels sprouts and sweet potatoes

Dinner: Leftover garlic chicken pesto pasta

Snacks: Tostitos Scoops and salsa

Daily total: $0.00

 

Thursday

Thursdays tend to be my least favorite days of the week since I have an 8 a.m. class, but my day was brightened by a surprise queso treat that one of my professors got for class! Thanks, Professor Hernandez! I also caved and bought a drink from Dichotomy in the afternoon. If there’s one thing I’ve learned this week, it’s that I definitely have a weak spot for caffeinated beverages. 

Breakfast: Trader Joe’s “This Pumpkin Walks Into a Bar” granola bar and a cup of coffee

Lunch: Pasta with olive oil and pepper

Dinner: Organic chicken nuggets and rice

Snacks: London Fog latte from Dichotomy, Torchy’s queso

Daily total: $4.75 

 

Friday

My boyfriend and I went home to Austin on Friday morning to see my family after my 10:10 a.m. class. I grabbed lunch on the way with a gift card, and my parents were kind enough to make dinner for me! We grabbed Common Grounds on the way to Austin, but my boyfriend (very nicely) paid for mine.

Breakfast: Cup of coffee

Lunch: Alfredo tortellini from Panera Bread

Dinner: Spaghetti and meatballs 

Snacks: Small vanilla latte from Common Grounds (thanks, David!)

Daily total: $0.00

This week, I spent $58.51 in total Monday through Friday. I didn’t include my weekend in this challenge since I generally spend differently during those days, and eating out is more of a social activity, not a convenience choice. For reference, during a normal week, my spending total hovers around $110-130 depending on what I eat. I saved (at least) $50 by not eating out this week, which means I could save around $200 per month if I committed to cooking for myself each week. 

I didn’t expect to save as much as I did and plan to challenge myself to cook at home more often. Saving $200 a month means an emergency fund for when I graduate, a spring break trip, or purchasing something big on my wish list. I don’t know about you, but I think I’ll trade weekly Chick-Fil-A sandwiches for that.