The #BrokeWestie series is a collection of tips and tricks intended to help dancers minimize the financial burden of events. It’s no secret that events are by no means cheap, especially for students and young adults who may not have a Big Kid Job quite yet. How do you keep costs down? Comment below or use the hashtag “#BrokeWestie” to get your ideas featured on the YDO blog!
Tip #1: Pack a lunch!
Before I set off for an event, I always construct a spreadsheet listing all of the mandatory costs for the weekend– weekend pass, comps, hotel, gas, and of course, food. Unlike hotel rates and gas prices or airfare, the amount spent on food over the course of the weekend is something you can control.
Let’s math for a second here. Say a dancer spends three days at an event with no intention of bringing any of their own food. That would mean eating out for nine total meals in a given weekend. On average, a meal out costs about $12.75. Multiply that by nine, and you have a whopping total of $114.75. That’s equivalent to the price of a weekend pass!On the opposite end of the spectrum, let’s assume a dancer is at an event for the same length of time, but instead comes prepared with all of their own food. Below is a sample grocery list that uses my own go-to event foods and their average prices:
- Bread: $3.50
- Peanut butter: $3.98
- Cliff Bars (box of six): $5.49
- Crackers: $2.62
- Cheese sticks: $4.50
- Hummus: $3.68
- Apples: $1.49/lb
- Greek yogurt (pack of four)t: $4.50
- Gatorade (eight pack): $5.73
Total food costs: $35.49
Just by packing my own food, I save about eighty dollars in a given weekend. That’s money that could cover my hotel for the weekend, or go towards travel expenses. This is not to say that we should never allow ourselves to eat out when we’re at an event. After all, food is a way in which we socialize and spend quality time with friends who we may not get to see often. It is perfectly okay to find a balance between eating out and bringing your own food. After much trial and error, I have finally perfected the eating-out-to-meal-packing ratio! Okay, maybe not– but it works for me, and I am sharing in hopes that it may work for others as well. For me, the average event consists of bringing the grocery list of foods shown above, and two meals out. One of those I’ll splurge and treat myself ($12-15), the other is more financially conservative (<$10). The meal in which I treat myself is the meal where I am out enjoying time with friends, normally during the Saturday evening dinner break. The other is something a bit smaller, perhaps a trip to In-N-Out (a California tradition!), or a much-needed highly caffeinated beverage after closing the ballroom. If you choose to go the “happy medium” route, food costs for the weekend are as follows: $35.49 + $15 + ~$8 = $58.49 This is still approximately half as much as the $114.45 one would spend eating out all weekend! If a weekend full of peanut butter sandwiches just isn’t for you, that’s okay! There are plenty of other travel-friendly alternatives, a few of which I have listed below:
- Bagels & cream cheese
- Mason jar salads: I actually acquired this idea from someone I roomed with at an event last year. They filled the fridge with individual salads stored in mason jars, so all they had to do was add dressing and toss the salad by shaking the jar!
- Pasta salad: This one is perfect because it doesn’t require any heating up, just take out of the fridge and enjoy!
- Trail mix
- Sandwiches (other than peanut butter): bring ingredients of your choice and make when you get there.
- Fruits & veggies
As you can see, there are a multitude of options that provide some relief for your wallet that don’t require living on ramen noodles and eating alone in your hotel room for seventy-two hours. As a #BrokeWestie myself, the small bit of extra planning required is far worth it for the money saved.Thanks for reading, and happy dancing!