Can you survive on $25?

One week. I’m $25 rich. The goal? To survive five days on campus on this budget, eating one or two meals a day.

We all probably have more than $25 saved up somewhere, but who wants to dish out $8.25 on lunch every day? Upper-year students have discovered ways to beat the food prices. Eating at home sounds simple enough, but with an eight-hour day and a snooze button at home, not everyone has the time or energy to pack lunch. So it’s off to the dreaded cafeterias, surviving on Tim Hortons bagels.

I decided to partake in a little experiment to see just how far I could get at UTM on a $25 budget.


Day 1

I was smart enough to eat breakfast at home today, so I’m still full when lunchtime rolls around. Of course, at lunch, with a pocket full of $25, I’m cocky enough to splurge on some food. I grab a slice from Pizza Pizza and a Powerade. Total? $7.46. I spend that money, regretting it with every bite and every sip. I only have $17.54 left and I already feel poor.

Day 2

Breakfast is taken care of and I pack myself a snack and several water bottles. I refuse to pay another $2 and change for a drink. A granola bar doesn’t carry me half as far as I thought it would. I indulge in lunch again. I play it smart this time and grab a bagel from Tim Hortons. None of those fancy bagels; just a regular plain bagel. I breathe a sigh of relief. A plain bagel with butter costs me only $1.91, and I’m still going strong with $15.63.


Day 3

Thank you to the kind souls who hosted Unity Through Diversity on campus. Today, UTMSU held International Cuisine Day. I gorged on delicacies from every country there. No money spent, and a full stomach—one of the greatest feelings in the world.


Day 4

I skipped breakfast today because I slept in. I’m forced to buy breakfast. A muffin from Tim Hortons will do. Tim Hortons: the safe haven on campus that doesn’t force me to sell a kidney for lunch money. It’s $1.70 for a chocolate chip muffin, and this holds me until I purchase their beef lasagna casserole for $5.07 and am left with a very sad $8.86.

Day 5

My last day. With almost $10 burning a hole in my pocket, I’m torn between spending all my money on a decent lunch and grabbing another bagel and putting the change in my piggy bank. I opt for a decent lunch. It’s Friday, after all. I strut into the new Davis cafeteria and grab some rice and potatoes from one of those little places that sells legitimate food. I figure it will cost me just about everything I have left, if not more. In which case I plan to haggle or cry if I have to. It turns out that rice and potatoes are considered sides and therefore they only cost me $2.19. I am left with a whopping $6.67.


Conclusion: if you’re okay with eating something small pretty much every day at school and you’re lucky enough to nab something from a generous club or two in the Student Centre, then, ladies and gentlemen, $25 covers you (drinks not included). Of course, it doesn’t hurt to go for the zombie survival kit and bring some water or granola to school. But if you’re one of the big spenders on campus that likes to actually eat, you may want to ask Mom for an allowance hike before heading off to school.

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