On top of all the different plans you have to make for college and all of the options that you need to consider, you probably weren’t thinking too much about finding the right meal plan. However insignificant this decision may seem right now, it will actually have a huge impact on your day-to-day routine for the rest of the year, so you want to weigh your options very carefully. If you’re not sure what kinds of considerations you need to weigh, here is how to choose the right college meal plan.
Most college freshmen choose to do the 3-meal plan, and at some schools, it’s the only choice. Either way, with this option you will be able to enter the cafeteria up to 3 times within a day and you will be able to eat as much as you want. This can be a great option so long as your cafeteria has enough variety to keep you satisfied with eating in the same place each and every day. The only thing you want to consider is that you won’t get rollover meals if you don’t take advantage, so if you decide to eat somewhere else, it’s as though you’re paying for two separate meals no matter what.
The other option that most schools will give you is to pay for a meal card that acts like a debit card. Each item you buy will have a separate price and the money will be deducted from your meal card. This can be a great option for people who don’t want to eat every meal at the cafeteria, and you can usually use this card to treat your friends and family to food in the cafeteria. This way, you always know what you’re paying for and you don’t have to split ways with someone when you get hungry just because they don’t have a meal plan as well.
If you have any kind of dietary restrictions, such as gluten intolerance, lactose intolerance, food allergies, or meat restrictions, then you want to make sure that your college cafeteria has plenty of options for you. If it doesn’t, then you might not want to buy a meal plan at all. If there are options, but they’re limited, then you definitely don’t want to buy a plan that gives you three meals per day. Just go for the declining tab option if it’s available, or don’t buy a meal plan at all.
If you keep irregular hours, then you want to take that into consideration when you’re looking at your meal plan options. There’s no telling how irregular your hours could be if you’re taking classes because you will get to have full control over your schedule. A lot of students work during the day and take night courses, or online courses so that they can still earn a living. If this is the case, then you won’t be spending a whole lot of time on campus, so you probably only want one or two meals on campus per day.