I have a confession to make: I, Liz Flanagan, had a dining hall meal plan that I barely used. And by barely, I mean there were times I went weeks without swiping my card. Weeks. Now, I'll admit I had some help from some family members who lived nearby but still, I've always known the kitchen life was the life for me.

After getting rid of my meal plan this year, I knew I was going to have to be efficient about making meals for myself to avoid spending all my money on Chipotle and Jimmy John's (which I might still do anyway if we're being honest). So, I decided to eat strictly from home for two weeks straight and see what would happen (and resist the urge to drop $30 on food the minute hanger struck). 

1. I Lost Weight

Liz Flanagan
This was not my ultimate goal with this challenge but it was certainly an added bonus. Really, it wasn't so much that I lost actual inches, since my workout routine (or lack thereof) didn't change, but that I felt leaner and noticed my clothes fit slightly looser at the end of the second week. I think this was mainly due to the fact that I was more conscious of everything I put in my mouth since it all was the fruit of my own labor and not just set on the table in front of me.

2. I Drank More Water

Liz Flanagan
An increase in my hydration level probably also played a factor in my weight loss. It also help regulate my digestion (sorry, TMI) and clear my skin up a bit. I've always been someone who drinks a glass of water with a meal but I struggle to keep myself hydrated when I'm on the go (aka every school day always).

So, taking the time to just be at home while eating allowed me to get those few extra glasses of H20 in, which ending up making a HUGE difference. 

3. I Felt Less Stressed

pizza, basil, sauce, tomato, dough, crust, mozzarella
Liz Flanagan
I know what you're thinking. "WHAT?! Is it possible to be in college and not feel stressed?" The answer is kind of. My assignments and other responsibilities didn't all disappear when I decided to be my own personal chef and planning out meals definitely took extra time and energy.

However, as someone who enjoys being in the kitchen, preparing three meals a day gave me a chance to breathe and focus on something I thoroughly enjoy. And who doesn't enjoy "me" time? 

4. I Saved Money

spinach, salad, chicken, cheese
Liz Flanagan

Duh. Although I certainly spent more at the grocery store, my total spent at restaurants, ice cream shops, and cafés was a whopping zero dollars. While this meant I had to be the odd one out at a few social events, I was really proud of myself for resisting the urge to give up and buy a tempting dessert or coffee just because I was out with friends. Being a conscious spender was a skill I desperately needed some help with and these two weeks were a great test of the strength I didn't know I had in that department. 

Although my goal for this challenge wasn't to eat healthier, I felt much more in control of my diet and my life. Cooking at home allows you to be completely in charge of what you put on your plate, which I am convinced plays a large role in adopting a healthier lifestyle. While I think it would be pretty difficult to cook all your meals at home 24/7 (treating yo' self is still necessary AF), I will definitely be making a better effort to do so more often, for the good of my waistline and my wallet.