Meal plans are expensive, but you may still be unfamiliar with the dining services here at Boston University. Whether you’re a freshman, transfer student or even a prospective student, here are five tips I learned after five weeks as a BU freshman.

1. “West is Best.”

First things first, here is the list of BU’s residence dining halls, as well as the typical order of preference for most people:

1. West
2. Marciano (aka Marci, Bay State, 100 Bay State, Hundo Bay)
3. Warren

Personally, West and Marciano are about the same, while Warren is a tier below. (But don’t worry, it’s still good, especially when you can roll downstairs in your pajamas on a Sunday.)

What separates West from Marciano though is its special from the grill section, “the West Burger.” It’s essentially a grilled cheese sandwich with a burger patty and barbecue sauce, but it tastes like oh so much more than that.

Did you see the picture up there? That, my friends, is the West Burger, and yup, it’s incredible.

2. Mix Things Up.

Dining halls offer you a number of options to choose from, and you need to take advantage of that.

It’s usually a good idea to mix up the different choices: just the other day, I got pork chops from one section, a tropical salad from another, and fried rice from elsewhere. Don’t be afraid of picking and choosing entrees and sides from different stations.

If you want to take it to the next level, you need to be adventurous. I heard of a dining hall recipe combining rice, soy sauce, Sriracha, and peanut butter which sounded crazy at first, but after trying it myself, I think I’ll start putting together unlikely combinations.

I know we’re not supposed to play with food, but…

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If you want to play it safe, try recreating classic combinations (chicken and waffles or a coke float to give you some ideas), or some of your local specials from back home.

3. Take Advantage of Dining Points.

Dining points are different from meal swipes, and you’re given a certain amount based on your meal plan—speaking of which, remember: pick the 330 for first semester, then 250 for second semester. That will give you plenty of dining points for the second semester if you have a good number of extra meal swipes at the end of the first semester.

Dining points can be used to purchase all dining options at the GSU and most retail dining choices within campus. You can also order Domino’s with it, a classic late night study move.

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Speaking of which…

4. Go to Late Night.

Late Night options are available near each dining halls. West has Extreme Pita, which makes terrific pita sandwiches. Warren has Late Night Cafe, where you can grab quick, fried food like chicken fingers and mozzarella sticks.

If you have time though, go to Late Night Kitchen at Marciano. It’s a legit sit-down place with selections including burgers, pizzas, and mac and cheese, and is definitely the best Late Night option.

For the hours, check here.

5. You Can Still Be Healthy.

All this West Burger and late night talk might have you thinking BU is all about fatty-foods, but there are also plenty of healthy options.

For one, all dining halls have great salad bars, vegan station, gluten free options and pantry access, and health conscious Sargent Choice dishes. Hillel also has their own dining room that serves kosher food, which tends to be healthier.

Boston University also received an “A” grade from’s Vegan Report Card.

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I forgot to tell you that I picked up a pant-size after week three. So yeah, I think that means BU on-campus dining is actually pretty good.