Bang for your Buck: A Week of Dinners for $25

by Allie Jeka, Lifestyle Writer and Jen Anderson, Lifestyle Editor

bang for your buck

As busy college students, it’s difficult to find meals that fit into our budget and free time. Handling money is hard when going out to dinner seems like an easier option (even though one meal alone might cost up to $20). With a little financial and meal planning, you can make a week’s worth of different dinners that fit into your budget.

In order to save you valuable time, we did the planning for you. We went to Madison Fresh Market with a week of meals in mind, and $25 to spend. By reusing ingredients throughout the week (labeled in red), meals are more cost efficient without compromising good taste.




Garden Salad

Start your week out with some healthy greens. This flexible recipe will give you an extra boost to get through the week ahead.




Spinach – $1.50

Tomato  – $2.05

Mozzarella – $1.99

Cucumber – $0.79

Bread Croutons – $1.79

Toss the salad with spinach and slices of cucumber, tomato, and mozzarella. Toast a piece of bread and slice up to make croutons.




Savory Autumn Pasta

Inspired by the flavors of fall, this pasta recipe can be shared with roommates and friends for a quick meal after a long day.






Rotini pasta – $0.79

Marinara sauce – $1.99


Sautéed zucchini – $0.57

Sautée the zucchini in a small frying pan. Cook the pasta and top with sauce, zucchini and mozzarella.




Classic Comfort Food: Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup

Take a mid-week break and enjoy the satisfaction of a warm, homey dinner. We chose to add tomato slices for a healthy twist, but you could also add bacon or pesto for more flavor.




Kraft Singles – $3.46


Can of tomato soup – $0.82

Prepare soup according to instructions on can. For grilled cheese sandwich, layer tomato slices in between cheese slices and grill until golden brown.




Pepperoni Pita Pizza

Now that the bulk of the week is behind you, it’s time to enjoy a movie with friends and some homemade pizza. This pizza is easier to make because you can substitute pita bread for dough, and it has a shorter cooking time.



Flatbread – $2.99

Marinara sauce


Pepperoni – $2.19

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spread leftover marinara sauce on pita bread as a base and coat with pepperoni slice and mozzarella cheese to top. Bake pizza directly on the oven rack (no pan needed!) for a crispy crust for about 5-6 minutes.




Healthy Hummus Snack

This meal won’t interrupt your weekend routine. You can snack on it while you’re getting ready to go out or settling down for a long night at the library.




Roasted red pepper hummus – $2.59




Slice vegetables and flatbread and dip or layer ingredients as you please!


Total Cost: $23.52

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