It's 10 p.m. and you're craving your go-to order of a blueberry muffin and a vanilla iced-coffee from Starbucks. You then remember you've taken four trips to Starbucks and it's only Tuesday. 

As a college student, I've lived through this scenario many times. My love for Starbucks, Panera, and açaí bowls are real, but eating out on a budget every day is unrealistic. That's why I decided to think outside of the box and recreate your favorite college cravings for less. Here are my go-to cost effective creations so that you can indulge in your cravings without breaking the bank:

Starbucks: Protein Boxes, Muffins and More!

Victoria Vargas

Protein Boxes: We know and we love them when we're in a rush to class: Starbucks' protein boxes. My personal favorite, the PB&J, contains a whopping 20 grams of protein to keep you fueled throughout the day. However, this simple lunch can be made in the convenience of your dorm, which saves you money in the long run. By making your own box, you're able to personalize it to please your taste buds. In the image above, I packed my box with two slices of whole-wheat bread stuffed with apricot jelly and PB, red apple slices, carrots paired with a light ranch dressing, a cheese stick, and dark chocolate covered almonds.

PRO-TIP: Pack your box with plenty of fruits and veggies to keep you hydrated. They also provide you with essential vitamins and minerals to keep you healthy!

Victoria Vargas

Baked Goods: Of course, we can't talk about Starbucks without mentioning their delicious baked goods. My favorite go-to Starbucks sweet treats are their signature blueberry muffin and morning bun. But, what if I told you that you could enjoy a warm, mouthwatering muffin without leaving your dorm? Ladies and gentlemen, I introduce to you mug treats made by Betty Crocker. Each box contains four muffins so you can enjoy them throughout the week. I combined my love for my two go-to Starbucks treats and chose to make the cinnamon roll mug muffin. The muffin was warm and fluffy and came with decadent cream cheese frosting to top it off. For less than five dollars, what more could you ask for?

Panera: Mac and Cheese, Please!

Victoria Vargas

With sandwiches, desserts, and of course, mac and cheese, Panera is every college student's dream. Every time I go to Panera, I never fail to walk out with a belly full of good food, but also with an empty wallet. I recently discovered Annie's Shells and White Cheddar, which I found at Publix, but can be found at your local grocery store. This mac and cheese is made with wholesome ingredients, costs far less than Panera's mac, but still packs the flavor. Annie's mac and cheese is also sold in microwavable cups, making it a portable and convenient option on the go. According to Annie's, their mac is made with no artificial colors, flavors, preservatives, GMO's, and contains 10 grams of protein per serving. Move over, Panera. Annie's mac and cheese may have you beat!

Açaí the Grocery Store?

Victoria Vargas

Yes, you read that correctly.

Yes, you can now find açaí bowls in your grocery store's frozen food section.

No, I am not okay.

On a recent trip to Publix with my best friend, we discovered ready-to-eat açaí bowls made by Dole. The bowls come in numerous flavors such as original, original with protein, tropical, strawberry banana, and pineapple banana. Each portable bowl contains a packet of toppings (mine came with granola and coconut) and is topped with fresh fruit. For only 210 calories, this cold treat is sure to satisfy your sweet tooth on a walk back from class on a hot day.

Some Final Advice...

Eat out and enjoy your college experience. After you graduate, you won't always have the opportunity to grab Starbucks with your best friend. But, be mindful of how much you're spending. By buying your own groceries, you're not only saving money, but you're also making healthier choices for yourself and for the environment. So the next time you face your college cravings (trust me, there will be a next time), remember these helpful hacks to save money and indulge happily.