How to make $22 an hour

It’s 4 p.m. on Monday of finals week. I stumble out of my third exam with two more hours to go before I can leave campus. Lane, perhaps sensing that a choice between food court options could cause extra anxiety for stressed students, has mercifully shut the entire cafeteria down. Undeterred, I proceed to the pinnacle of price markups known as the Titan Store. A candy bar, a bag of jerky, and a fruit smoothie (to repent for the candy) are billed to my card in one tap.

As I walk away, I check the receipt. For one meal, really more of a snack and by no means a healthful one, I was set back $8.60. Of course, the same items at Eugene’s Safeway cost only a few dollars less, and the choice was completely mine when it came to what I bought, but let’s do a little math:

Say I pick up that same snack every day. In fact, cut the candy bar, if I’m trying to watch my figure. $7.10 a school day comes out to $142 a month. Over three terms, the total inflates to $1278. That’s more money for jerky and drinks than many students get from their Pell Grant.

The food court doesn’t fare much better. $6.50 for two slices of pizza and a sugary drink from Stonefire, which is often the only lunch option available, still comes out to $1,110 from fall to spring.

With all this in mind, one still has to eat. Luckily, many of the lunch options sold at Lane are completely recreatable. A week of sandwiches, totalling $17.50 if bought at Lane, can be made for $8.15 (much less if you skip the cheese) with grocery store ingredients and a few minutes a day.

Over the school year, that amounts to a savings of $336. Drawn to its conclusion, that figure suggests that anyone purchasing sandwiches at Lane instead of making them at home values their daily five minutes of sandwich-making time at over $22.44 an hour.

The convenience of eating at the food court may well suit some. However, for a student like myself — struggling to find creative ways to cover the rising costs of an education — it may just pay to eat at home.