Money Talks, So Should You

Cheapskate Culture: My war against takeout (and myself)

Alyssa Vitale
by Alyssa Vitale, Dimespring 30

This Christmas, my mom bought me a cookbook. Perhaps it was a subtle dig at my tendency to order food constantly (blast you, GrubHub!) when I’m at work. Regardless, the gift got me really psyched to take more initiative in the direction of culinary endeavors.

With that in mind, I sat down with the cookbook and set out out to find my next recipe to conquer. Everything looked fantastic — ratatouille, stuffed peppers, homemade deep dish pizza — but I winced at the sight of expensive-sounding ingredients.

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“When,” I queried, “will I ever find it reasonable to purchase a pound of Gruyère cheese for any kind of pasta, even if it is the most delicious macaroni and cheese in the land?”

I continued to pore over recipes, drooling at the sight of the fantastic photographs. Slowly but surely, as my desire for food overtook my qualms about ingredients, I felt myself reverting back to my takeout reflexes and toying with the idea of just ordering out for that delicious mac and cheese.

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It was then that it began to dawn on me that I suffer from want of instant gratification. Yes, I would like to eat a heaping, steaming bowl of bibimbap. No, I would not like to go to the grocery store, lug bags of food home, prepare ingredients, and then cook it all. This, I now understand, is the problem, and there is a simple solution: grow up.

And that’s when I asserted to myself that I can stop being lazy and cook for a reasonable amount of money. Sure, that Jimmy John’s sandwich at work two days a week is enticing (and, admittedly, does arrive freakishly fast), but maybe I should buck up and spend that $15 per week on real groceries.

It’s not now, nor has it ever been, a question of finance. Rather, I have been a sloth-like, unhealthy slacker who was able to survive for years on 25-cent packages of Ramen for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

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And thus, a new year’s resolution was born. I will save money and not order takeout multiple days a week. I will plan ahead and prepare for meals so I can bring leftovers to work for lunch. I will learn valuable recipes and not be a disappointment to my grandmothers.

I guess it’s all part of being an adult and not relying on my college meal plan (or my mom) anymore. If part of saving money means taking initiative in the kitchen, then, so help me God, I will take it. Look out, Julia Child. I’m coming for you.


Alyssa Vitale is navigating the waters of thrifty entertainment, one penny at a time. Alyssa is a member of the Dimespring 30, a community of bloggers sharing their thoughts, experiences and attitudes on personal finance.