It’s easy to find ways to save money on food, and fun, too


Kent Field Hockey vs Missouri State.flv


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By Whitney Chaffin

Daily Kent Stater

I saved $179.28 by eating one free meal a day for a week.  

Finding ways to budget money can be difficult, especially for a college student. I know first-hand what it’s like to be broke, so I decided to do an experiment. For one week, I tried to eat at least one free meal every day. I set a budget of $50 on my meal plan, and I didn’t allow myself to use any cash. Here’s my day-to-day account of what happened. I was surprised at how much free food I could find in just one week.

Day 1: Meal Plan: $4.29 Protein Shake, $2.99 Dasani

      Free Meal: Hamburger, chips, 2 mini cupcakes

      Cash: $0

The first free meal I received was a hamburger and chips from a TV2 cookout. Later that night, I got mini cupcakes from an upperclassman I work with. I was pumped about that because I was craving something sweet.  

Day 2: Meal Plan: $4.29 Protein Shake, $2.99 Dasani

      Free Meal: Banana, Hungry Howie’s small cheese pizza

      Cash: $0

On Day Two, I started my morning off with a free banana from the Student Recreation and Wellness Center. I go there everyday to buy a protein shake, and because of how often I go there, the cashier gave me a free banana. That evening, I got a free Hungry Howie’s pizza from a promotional code on their billboard. I texted the number to Hungry Howie’s, and I picked up my free pizza. Although pizza isn’t in my regular diet, I was willing to cheat since it was a free meal.

Day 3: Meal Plan: $3.19 Einstein’s egg/cheese wrap, $6.00 Asian Jump, $2.99 Dasani

      Free Meal: Taste of Kent samples

      Cash: $0

On my third day, I went to the Taste of Kent at Risman Plaza and took advantage of the free samples of the foods that the campus has to offer. With the unlimited refills, I was full until the next day. I loved it.

Day 4: Meal Plan: $4.29 Protein Shake, $2.99 Dasani, $3.19 Einstein’s wrap

      Free Meal: Rosie’s chicken wrap and yogurt

      Cash: $0

When I got to my fourth day, I decided to mooch off of my friend who has the Premiere Plus meal plan. He bought me a Rosie’s chicken wrap and yogurt.

Day 5: Meal Plan: $4.29 Protein Shake

      Free Meal: Red Lobster with my mom

      Cash: $0

For the remaining three days, I went home to eat with my family. It’s always nice to go home once in a while and not have to spend any money on food. Usually at my house, whatever my mom cooks, I eat. I like it because I don’t spend any money. So, on Day Five, I met my mom at Red Lobster. It was her treat.

Day 6: Meal Plan: $0

      Free Meal: Cereal, burger, chips, cake, ice cream

Cash: $0   

On Day Six, my little cousin had a birthday party. You know what that means: Lots of free food. I took advantage of all the cake and ice cream I could get my hands on.

Day 7: Meal Plan: $0

      Free Meal: Waffles, cereal, Johnny Appleseed festival samples

Cash: $0

On my final day, I ate breakfast at my house which was free and stopped by a festival near my hometown. At the festival I was able to convince my mom into buying me a hot apple dumpling. I also was able to scrounge up some samples the festival had to offer from all the vendors. That was awesome!

Total spent on meal plan: $41.50

Total saved: $179.28

You can see that I managed to save $179.28 and only used $41.50 on my meal plan.  Not spending any cash for a week can really help out when you’re low on money. Using a meal plan can also help save on cash. However, sometimes the food on campus is much more expensive than food at a regular food mart. If you get a few extra dollars to spend at a grocery store, I suggest buying cheap items that you can use to make food in your room; for example, buy bread, lunchmeat, cheese, peanut butter and jelly. Lunchmeat can last long enough to have one sandwich every day for a week and peanut butter and jelly are always good on a sandwich or toast.  

Tips on saving money:

-Take advantage of free events and ways to get free food on campus.

-Keep an eye out for coupons and discount cards

-If you don’t have a way of getting a free meal, go to a food mart, by a few of your favorite items and cook them in your room. You’ll save money if you buy your favorite foods in a larger quantity than to buy it on campus for one meal.

-Set a budget for yourself in order to save money and decrease the amount of unnecessary spending.  

At the end of my week, I decided that eating one free meal a day is a bargain. There are so many ways to get free food on campus, and I strongly suggest taking advantage of it if you’re on a budget and need to save a little cash. Sometimes, going to things like the Johnny Appleseed festival can be fun, too. And don’t forget the benefits of stopping by mom and dad’s house.

Contact features correspondent Whitney Chaffin at [email protected].

Whitney’s daily diet without a budget:

$7.29 Chicken Wrap

$2.99 Dasani Water

$3.99 Yogurt

$6.00 Asian

$2.99 Dasani Water

$5.29 Hard Boiled Eggs

$2.99 Dasani Water

Total: $31.54 a day

Weekly: $220.78