If I had it my way, I would eat exquisite foods all the time, regardless of season or price. But I can’t have it my way – I’m a poor college student in DC who doesn’t have the luxury of eating at the $15+ restaurants that plague this city’s streets. I resolved to head over to Trader Joe’s and buy about $25 worth of food that would presumably last me the whole week, with a few cafeteria/deli substitutions.

But no. Apparently the second I walk into Trader Joe’s, both my ability to do basic math and my general concept of time dissipate. I wander around the store dazed and confused, standing in place for up to 5 minutes pondering: “Do I really need this foie gras? What would I accompany it with? What the hell is foie gras?” And my Tj trips are never complete without at least 5 visits to the free sample lady – today’s tasting: ham and gruyere snack pizza. I wouldn’t buy it if I were you, the crust was too dry and the gruyere was thoroughly underwhelming. ANYWAY. Before I know it, my cart is filled up to the brim with items I really do need or things I know wouldn’t go to waste.

Then it became checkout time. As the cashier raved about my choice to add the cheddar-gruyere cheese, my eyes slowly widened with horror and anxious anticipation as the number became bigger and bigger and bigger. I’ll admit, the number wasn’t pretty. Turns out I spent $71.92 on 25 items.

So. What to do with all this food? Well, dear reader, this creates an opportunity that I literally just came up with, the very lightbulb is still floating over my head. I am going to challenge myself to make this food last in the name of budgeting college students everywhere! For as long as I can, I’ll eat in for three meals a day until the very last crumb of bread is eaten – or stolen by the resident mouse whom we’ve named Herbert. I’ll forgo restaurants, Starbucks, and the campus’ local delis and dives as long as I have food in my kitchen. Thank God I bought some nonperishable items like canned beans and red wine vinegar and more beans. Can’t wait to have to get disgustingly creative for that one!

I look forward to this strange – no – cost effective foodie adventure. With DC eatery prices, people are lucky if they don’t spend $70 in two days! My university is the same way – they serve expensive meals that are regularly subpar, and I’m tired of it. But the biggest change is that now I won’t be complaining via cafeteria comment cards. Since I’m the head chef, I’ll just complain to my mom instead.

Three chicken tenders are marinating in a teriyaki ginger rub as I write this sentence.