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I Ate Like I Did In College For A Week And Saved A Shit Ton Of Money

But my body didn't.

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Hi, my name is Matt. I'm a 29-year-old quasi-adult who hemorrhages money on food, and I'm trying to change.

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I work in New York City, home of $16 movie tickets, $8 Bud Lights, and rent that forces me to live on the Jersey side of the river — which I prefer anyway — but regardless, shit is expensive.

When you combine New York's cost of living and panic attack–inducing grocery stores with my work schedule and aversion to cooking it's a recipe for disaster. It's easy to fall victim to the comfort of ordering delivery and going out to eat too often. Money quite literally vanishes from my bank account.

So I decided to revisit a time in my life when I had next to no expendable money and I could stretch $20 for a couple weeks — college.

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The conditions of the experiment were simple.

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I'm lucky enough to work at a place that offers free lunch on Monday and Wednesday as well as free snacks and coffee. (I know — we're spoiled, it's nice.) So just for argument's sake we'll equate my free food to a standard college meal plan.

Initially I dreaded putting my body through a weeklong diet of ramen, tuna, and mac 'n' cheese, but eventually I started looking forward to stuffing my face with garbage.

Matt Kiebus / BuzzFeed

Look, I know this whole experience was supposed to help transform me from an overgrown college kid into a normal, well-adjusted adult, BUT part of me was looking forward to being a human garbage disposal for the week.

My biggest concern was the $25 budget. I knew I could buy enough food to sustain myself over that course of time, but it didn't really leave any wiggle room to socialize with friends after work.

Monday was a breeze. I skipped breakfast per usual and ate an unsatisfying (yet satisfyingly free) plate of chicken, kale, and couscous. After our company softball game we went out for drinks and I conveniently mooched off my teammates' pitchers of beer. (Sorry guys.)


One of my biggest issues was actually remembering how to make mac 'n' cheese.

Matt Kiebus / BuzzFeed

In college, I once forgot to drain the water before adding the powder and milk and then had to ask my roommates what I did wrong. It was a disaster. They never let me live it down.


Going into Tuesday I knew I was going to have to really dig in. I didn't have any free lunch to save me. It was time to start crushing noodles and leftovers.

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I woke up incredibly hungry and a little more lethargic than usual, which I think had something to do with the fact that I barely had two meals, and one was at 11 p.m. I struggled to get out of bed and made it to work about 15 minutes late.

When I got to the office I stole Cinnamon Toast Crunch from my desk neighbor and grabbed a cup of coffee. Around early afternoon it was time for the first cup of noodles of the week. This was the one meal I wasn't looking forward to during the week, because I knew I'd be eating a ton of it.

Boy, was I wrong — ramen in a cup is abso-fucking-lutly delicious. If it wasn't for the alarmingly high amount of sodium, and a co-worker telling me her 8-year-old brother started to lose his hair when he ate too much of it, I'd be enjoying these regularly.


My energy was pretty low, but nothing too surprising for a Wednesday. My spirits were even lower because I missed free lunch and the only pizza I could get my hands on was veggie pizza.

Matt Kiebus / BuzzFeed

There's really not much I have to say about that slice of veggie pizza except it left me sad and broken.

So when I got home I decided to steal my girlfriend's five-day-old Thai food — and heat it up with a hair dryer.

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Now, I would like to point out that this was entirely unnecessary. I don't have a microwave, but I'm entirely capable of heating up these leftovers on the stove. However I felt it would be more authentic to my former college mentality — the same mind that once tried to make popcorn in a toaster oven — to try to use a hair dryer instead.

It wasn't worth it.


I keep trying to convince my body that everything is OK, but I don't think it believes me anymore. I had to crawl out of bed. My body started to feel sore and incredibly lethargic, but there was more ramen to be eaten.

Matt Kiebus / BuzzFeed

Look into those eyes — they're still wondering why in god's name I did that crap with the hair dryer, and begging for this to be over. On a scale of 1 to 100, I'd say they're about 35% awake. My body was in cruise control.


Yes, dear god, I could finally see the light at the end of the tunnel, and what better way to celebrate than with the McDonald's Dollar Menu? My body felt like hot garbage, but the food continued to taste great. It's a slippery slope. I needed this to end.


This is what I spent on food and drinks the week BEFORE my college diet.

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Before you all jump down my throat and call me a fiscally irresponsible idiot in the comment section I would like to point out that I live with my girlfriend and we take turns buying meals and drinks.

1) I honestly thought this entire project would be incredibly easy. I already eat a lot of canned tuna when money is tight at the end of paychecks. (Seriously, toss some mayo, onions, and hot sauce in there and pile it on a toasted English muffin — it's delicious.) A mere seven years ago this stuff was basically the foundation of my personal food pyramid.

2) Yes, I know, I'm literally setting money on fire out of pure laziness, but convenience comes with a cost. My problem is simply being too willing to pay for that convenience.

3) The college diet is unhealthy as fuck. I was exhausted all week. I know that seems pretty obvious, but it was interesting actually noticing my energy being zapped with every cup of noodles.

4) I need to find a happy medium between ordering food and making food for myself.

5) Cup Noodles is still delicious.

6) Don't use a blow-dryer to heat up your food.