It seems like a no brainer. Just one of those things that you get when you go to college. You know what I’m talking about: the meal plan. That all access pass to (I hope) delicious food at all times of the day. But here’s the thing: I’m on a meal plan and I hate it. Alright, hate might be a little strong but I definitely wish I hadn’t gotten that all access pass to the dining halls. Hopefully I can help you avoid making the same… mistake I’ve made with my 6 reasons why you shouldn’t get a meal plan.
1// Nasty Food
My university has been ranked as having one of the top meal plans in the nation. And yet, the majority of the food isn’t good. More importantly, it’s mostly stuff I don’t really like and, from what I’ve heard, most people are inclined to agree with me. If that’s the opinion of a nationally ranked cafeteria, I can only imagine what it must be like on other college campuses.
Sometimes meal plan food can be good, it’s rare but it does happen. But if you like things with flavor and if you like to know what’s going into your food, you probably don’t want to get on a meal plan.
2// It’s unhealthy
Here’s why the Freshman 15 is an affliction widely known to affect students on college campuses. They can eat as much food as they want whenever they want to. Why? Because a meal plan is an all access to food at your fingertips. With a swipe of a card, you have access to an all you can eat buffet and no one to tell you when you’ve had enough. I don’t know about you, but I don’t have enough self-control to not eat until I feel physically ill when I’m presented with endless amounts of food.
Save yourself from the Freshman 15 and make your own food. You’re more likely to make smaller portions of food so it doesn’t go bad (aka so you don’t throw money in the trash) which means you’ll be eating less. Eating smaller portions will make it a lot easier to keep off the Freshman 15 and may even get you to lose weight like I suggested in my post on how to lose weight without the gym.
3// It’s inconvenient
Now before you start laughing at me, hear me out. On a meal plan you have to walk to the dining hall to get your food. Off a meal plan you can just grab food out of your fridge, warm it up, and eat it on your very comfortable bed.
Imagine this: you come back from a long day at class, throw some food in a bowl, heat it up for two minutes and climb on your bed to read a good book once it’s all warm.
Doesn’t that sound so much better than having to walk to the dining hall to sit in a place with mostly uncomfortable chairs? Surrounded by people who are probably too loud?
No walking and delicious homemade food, sign me up for that no meal plan life.
4// You have all of the equipment
You’ll most likely bring a microwave and a fridge with you to college. And most colleges I’ve seen have some form of a kitchen where you can use the stove. And even if your college doesn’t have a kitchen, a microwave and a fridge is more than enough.
With a few supplies, you can make entire meals just using a microwave. My roommate and I recommend:
1 frying pan
1 baking sheet
Knives of varying sizes
And because you’re likely living in a college town, there’s someplace nearby where you can get groceries. Which means that, with the supplies and the groceries taken care of, there isn’t an excuse to make food for yourself in your dorm.
5// You’ll eat in your room anyway
Does not every college stereotype say that you’ll spend most of your time eating Raman? Yes, the answer is yes. You can avoid having to eat that sodium filled, delicious goodness by being off the meal plan.
Because you won’t be on meal plan, you’ll always have good food in your dorm. And most of that food will be stuff that will involve maybe 4 or 5 minutes of prep time, about the same amount of time as it takes to make actual Raman. You might even be able to cut the prep time down to 2 minutes if you’re simply reheating food you cooked earlier that week (basically how my roommate survives).
6// It’s Expensive
The meal plan at my college runs me about $4000 per year. On average, a single meal – assuming I’m eating three meals a day, 7 days a week, without any breaks – runs me about $5. So, in a day, I eat $15 worth and, in a week, that total is $105 Now that might not sound like a lot, but my roommate’s meals are only costing her about $2, or less, per meal. That means that in a day she spends $6 and only $42 per week. Using this data, being off the meal plan saves me approximately $2,300. That’s a lot of money.
For the quality of food that you’re probably getting, meal plans aren’t looking so good. In fact, they’re a huge money pit. Save yourself some money and get off the meal plan.
Of course being off a meal plan isn’t a viable option for everybody, but for those of you who can afford not to, don’t get on it. Bonus money will be “saved” if you’re parents are like mine and bring you food every few weeks when they do their own shopping. Ultimately, meal plans are better in every aspect of being a college student.
Would you get a meal plan? Why or why not?