For $40 a week, I can eat like a king.
For $30 a week, I can eat pretty well. Really well, actually, and progressively better as I gain experience in Ovencraft, Pastamancy, and Weapon Proficiency: Knife.
For $20 a week, I can eat modestly. I'll always be in hungry, grumpy bear mode and my mood will plunge, but I can survive. Barely.
Standard of comparison: Eating out every day--assuming I eat $4.25 sandwiches at Java Zone for every meal--will run me just short of $60 a week. The only cheaper alternative is the risky gambit of eating one meal a day--a Big Mac value meal at McDonald's ($5.19), which has 2/3 the calories a person needs a day and a good percentage of carbohydrates. That would run me at $35 a week, at just above starving.
Of course, none of this takes opportunity costs into account, and if I put the time I spent cooking and learning how to cook into, say, flipping burgers at McDonald's for $6 an hour, I'd break even and lose no money at all. But cooking lots of fun things for yourself is much more enjoyable than cooking the same thing for other people all day, and the benefits of learning to cook will most likely pay off in the long run. Plus, teaching yourself to make pot roast in a disposable cookie tray is really fucking badass.
I'm also getting a lot more efficient at cooking. No more scrambling around all afternoon trying to make lunch and ending up eating it for dinner. After much practice I've been able to make decent-tasting (but not phenomenal) pasta with green bell peppers and sauteed mushrooms in under 20 minutes. Iron Chef, baby!
Girl Scout cookies are being sold at Missler's. I'm so happy I could cry.