Factors to Consider When Choosing a Meal Plan

breakfastWhen you are signing up for a meal plan for the coming school year, there are lots of decisions to be made. One of those decisions involves predicting how often you will eat in the dining halls. It is important to get the most use out of the meal plan you chose so you don’t waste any money.

First, think about your class schedule and whether or not you will have time to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner in the dining halls. Are you the type who likes to roll out of bed just in time to get to your first class, or do you enjoy waking up early and eating a full breakfast from the dining halls? If you have early morning classes, it is often easier to prepare your breakfast in your dorm before you head out. One example of a simple breakfast to prepare in your dorm room is oatmeal. It is cheap, filling and you can add whatever toppings you have on hand like raisins, banana slices or peanut butter.

If you are the type who likes to plan ahead and think you may prepare some of your meals in your dorm, whether in the mornings or on the weekends, it will be important to know what resources you have available in your dorm building and dorm room. To begin, think about whether having a microwave and mini refrigerator in your room would be helpful for preparing meals in your room. Most college students these days equip their rooms with both of these essential items. Refrigerators are useful for storing healthy grab-and-go snacks, keeping drinks cold, and for storing sweet treats like ice cream in the freezer. Microwaves are perfect for popcorn, oatmeal, soup and other foods. These appliances will save you a lot of time when you need a quick bite to eat.

When looking into options for microwaves and refrigerators, know that you can typically rent these appliances from your university or you can choose to purchase them on your own. Sometimes, the value of renting is cheaper than purchasing new appliances, but make sure you account for the number of school years you will rent. In the long run, it can add up and may end up being cheaper to buy your own. If you chose to purchase a microwave or refrigerator, make sure you are aware of details like the size, wattage and how you might place them in your room. You may also want to coordinate with your roommate to determine if you want to share the cost of renting or if you will each purchase one of the appliances to share.

Another resource worth looking into is finding out whether your dorm building has a student kitchen. There may be an oven, a microwave and a stovetop available for student use as well as kitchen supplies like mixing bowls, cookie sheets, whisks and more. You never know when you’ll want to bake cupcakes for your roommate’s birthday or prepare a homemade meal.

The resources you have available in your dorm can be integral in deciding which meal plan to purchase as well as helping to prepare you for nutritious eating throughout college. Use them to your benefit!

Photo Credit: FBM

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