Every University of Iowa student with a meal plan knows the struggle: you're between classes, don't have enough time to hit up the dining hall, and need to eat something quickly. You head to one of the C-stores on campus to pick up a flex meal, but all they have available for flex meal swipes are bland sandwiches. You inspect a turkey and provolone with too much bread and a tuna salad that you don't exactly trust before settling on the PB&J. You grab a bag of chips and you're outie, onto your next class.

Don't get me wrong, flex meals are a convenient option when you're in a time crunch and the sandwiches are pretty decent, but up until now, Iowa dining was seriously lacking options. They didn't have a great vegetarian selection, nor were the options very exciting. However, within the last couple of weeks, they've made some changes.

Pairing With Local Businesses

Carly Koemptgen

A recent update to flex meals is that the university is now pairing with local businesses to provide us with their products. You can purchase items like tacos, fried chicken, and lasagna from restaurants located throughout Iowa City as part of your flex meal. That means you don't even have to leave Hillcrest or Burge to have a taste of the good ol' IC.

Healthier Options

Carly Koemptgen

Flex meals are notorious for being unhealthy, but the university has made great strides to make them healthier. In the Iowa Memorial Union, try one of their freshly made salads. At the library they offer Oasis lunch packs with hummus, tabbouleh (parsley salad), and freshly made pita bread. While it can be hard to find on-the-go options that are healthy, it's evident that the university has at least tried to make it easier.

Vegetarians, Unite!

Another thing that flex meals are notorious for is the lack of vegetarian options. However, with the introduction of Oasis Falafel sandwiches and snack packs in addition to Amy's frozen foods like their broccoli and cheddar bake, the university has clearly attempted to give vegetarian students more options in terms of flex meals.

While the university still has progress to make regarding flex meals, it's refreshing to see that they're giving us more options than just sandwiches with chips. Be sure to share photos of your favorite flex meals with us on Instagram at @spoon_iowa.