As a Guelph student, you have access to amazing foods from multiple eateries on and off campus. Not to mention the bragging right of attending the university with the best campus food in Canada.

But before you dive in to all the goodness, how can you chose a meal plan that can satisfy your food cravings?  Eating everyday at the Exhibition is certainly not the answer.

On-Campus Meal Plans: Basic Plan + Flex Plan

meal plans

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An On-Campus Meal Plan is mandatory for students residing in the major residences.

Basic Plan Vs Flex Plan?

Of the few thousand dollars that go into your yearly meal plan, about half of them go into the Basic Plan and another half go into the Flex Plan.

The Basic Plan contains the money you would be using if you were eating at a Hospitality Services outlet.

The Flex Plan allows you to purchase from on-campus facilities and also at select restaurants off campus.  The full list of off-campus outlets that accept the student meal plan are listed here. Note that you would also be able to use your student card to pay for a cab ride through the Red Top Taxi service, for those late nights out.

Is it worth it?

It depends. Even with just the Minimum size plan, you would be allocating $3685 to 8-months of meals (around $460 per month). However, $1015 of that budget goes to paying for maintenance and renovation of the campus eatery facilities, so you would only have $2670 of the Minimum plan to actually spend on food. That is about $330 per month for an 8-month school year, or about $11 a day.

With bigger meal plans, your overhead fees also increase, and just by a slightly lower rate. The extra fees are $1015 (27.5%) of the $3685 you pay for the Minimum plan, $1295 (27.0%) of the $4805 for a Full plan, and $1514 (26.7%) of the $5680 for the Varsity plan.

You will need to make your own judgment on whether the extra ~27% you’re paying is worth the convenience of eating on-campus. Note that since the meal plan is mandatory for students living in most on-campus residences, you should really consider the costs of the meal plan when deciding whether (and where) you would be able to afford living on-campus.

Ultra Food Plan

meal plans

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Only available to off campus students and students residing in East Residence, West Residence, and East Village Townhouses.

What is it?

The Ultra Food Plan is not mandatory to any student. You also do not have to decide a meal budget for the whole school year, although your first deposit to the plan has to be at least $195. There are no extra charges associated with using the Ultra Food Plan.

You use the Ultra Food Plan the same way as you would with the On-Campus Meal Plan; just head to any of the on-campus eateries or select off-campus eateries and flash your student card when you’re ready to pay.

Is this worth it?

Yes, regardless of what your needs are. You wouldn’t be paying for anything extra outside of the meals you’re purchasing. You don’t have to carry as much cash, and you also get to save some money through discounts at select locations on campus (the discounts are higher when using the On-Campus Meal Plan, but not that much more).

I personally pack my own lunch from home, but the Ultra Food Plan saves me during those days when I don’t have enough time to prepare any food or grab some cash from the ATM.

Textbook Plan

meal plans

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The textbook plan is an addition that you can make to your On-Campus Meal Plan or Ultra Food Plan. It allows you to make purchases at the University Bookstore at the convenience of flashing your student card.

How worthy it is depends on how much and how often you need to spend on textbooks and stationery (aside from campus paraphernalia).

Hospitality Online Services

meal plans

Photo by Carmen Tan

Now, whether you’ve registered for the On-Campus Meal Plan or Ultra Food Plan or just the Textbook Plan, this website by Hospitality Services will help you to manage your account balances. Through the website, you can view the balance of your budget or make deposits into your meal plan. If you haven’t already, you may also sign up for a meal plan through the website. (You may also purchase meal plans through the academic registration portal, WebAdvisor)