Pizza and Ramen

By: Abigail Kilgore

When my best friend asked me to drive to Missouri with her for a two day road trip, along with our other best friend, how could I say no? Yes, it was a long way to drive for such a small amount of time, and yes, I didn’t really have much money to spend, but how could I pass up on this mini-adventure? As luck would have it, all three of us only had about $50 to spend each. That would have to cover gas, food, and any snacks throughout the seven-hour car ride. We were determined to not spend a dime more.

            Six Lunchables, two chicken-flavored ramen noodle bowls, one bowl of Easy Mac, two Totino’s cheese pizzas, three Daily’s frozen daiquiris, and the inevitable girl’s trip must: brownies. Total cost: roughly $20. What a steal.

            Two days of total junk food later, I was craving something real. My quota for processed nonsense was beyond met, and I decided it was time to go get myself some food with substance. On this trip to the store, I ended up with a pack of three chicken breasts, nectarines, cherries, mangos, garlic, a lime, a spaghetti squash, and avocados. Total cost: roughly $24.

            So how come I could feed three girls for two days on $20 worth of cheap “food” when I spent more three meals and a day of snacks for one? The difference: it costs more to buy real food than it does to buy junk.

            As a college student, I am always trying to find ways to save money. But I also try to find ways to make healthy decisions. Because financial struggles are more immediately tangible than physical struggles, cheap groceries with absolutely no nutritional value tent to win me over. I’ve found my greatest struggle with food and money is finding healthy options that have some sort of shelf life. The problem is that it’s difficult to eat fresh foods before they spoil.

            But I have two roommates that seem to have figured out this mystery. Few people in this world are healthier and as financially wise as Raizel and Xenia (they may have hard to pronounce names, but you won’t find better people to live with). These twins always eat well without depriving themselves, and they never waste their money. Here are some habits I have picked up on:

  1. They plan their meals. After church on Sundays, the twins make a weekly trip to the grocery store, coming back with one week’s supply of food. Staples in their grocery basket: raw chicken, a rotisserie chicken, frozen vegetables, eggs, apples, and Greek yogurt. When they come home, its time to prep. The raw chicken goes into the freezer, each one in an individual baggie. The rotisserie chicken is used to make chicken salad, which makes about 10 servings. And the rest is used as sides and snacks for their meals. It’s normal to find one of the baggies with raw chicken thawing out on the counter about an hour before dinner time.

  2. They prepare their meals. This might seem like it’s the same tip as planning their meals, but they actually pre-make a lot of their food. This helps them save time, and it keeps them from deciding to eat out because they already have prepared food waiting at home.

  3. They indulge every once in a while. Xenia and Raizel eat almost the same food every day. It’s all very healthy and it’s all very delicious, but when they crave something different, they don’t deprive themselves. One of my main problems when it comes to food and money is that I constantly give into what I think are cravings, making my eating habits expensive and erratic. But the twins are smart about their cheats. No one loves a brownie more than these two, they just are wise about when they eat them.

Healthy eating and wise spending are hard to balance, and that balance is going to look different for everyone. But finding it makes for a healthier life, both physically and financially. The next time I feel like I absolutely need that sandwich from Chick-Fil-A, I’m just gonna ask myself, “what would the twins do?”

Lark ReelyComment