Whether you've got meal swipes and a buffet-style dining hall, some form of meal-plan money and a pay-by-weight system (or something different altogether,) we all know the struggles a college meal plan can cause.
No matter if you like the salad bar or the constant supply of pizza and fries, here are some tried-and-true hacks to get you through your college dining experience.
1. Take food to go
In case you're having trouble making friends, invest in some Tupperware and you'll have a forever BFF. If you're at a loss for what kind to invest in, these lunch containers will make transporting food fun, and probably garner you some compliments too.
2. Pick your friends wisely
If you're on a reduced meal plan but have got friends with unlimited, have them swipe you in whenever you go to eat. Some places might get strict about this, but usually meal plans come with official guest swipes that you'll be able to snag a few of. If you're the friend with swipes to spare, make sure to keep your wits about you and avoid these folks.
3. Stock up
Whenever you get the chance to take easily portable food, do it. Fruits like bananas and apples are your new go-to snacks since they require no extra bags or containers—not to mention they're a quick source of energy when you're hit with that afternoon slump. If you're still in need of some healthy snacks, check out these ones that'll last all year.
4. Spend wisely
If you have some form of meal-plan cash, try to spend it on actual meals instead of lattes and muffins at the on-campus cafés. If you're still hankering for a sweet treat, try these three simple mug recipes or find a Keurig and make your own Starbucks drinks from the comfort of your dorm.
5. Don't be afraid to ask questions
Some of us are selective about what we eat—and for that are labeled as picky eaters—but I don't buy into that. We each have our preferences and for the cost of meal plans these days, we deserve to get whatever our hearts, or stomachs, desire.
So, don't be afraid to ask for what you want or see if a special option can be made for you. At the same time, keep in mind some picky eater etiquette. Most dining halls are very accommodating, and as long as your request isn't outrageous, you'll most likely get your wish. And honestly, there's nothing that makes a bad day better than a good meal.
There's no getting around the obvious downsides of campus dining, but with these simple tricks it's much easier to make the most of your time, and money, in the D-Hall. Not to mention, eating a home-cooked meal is all the better once you've dealt with what your school provides.