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How to Make the Most of Your Meal Plan


Freshman meal plans can be extremely difficult to manage. Whether you have the Gold Plan or the Blue Plan, dining dollars always seem to disappear before you know it. Making the trip from the dorms to the Hans can seem daunting on a windy day or on a day where you have little time to spare, but relying on the dining dollars too much can result in you have no dining dollars left before the term is even close to over. Use these tips to ensure that you use your meal plan to it’s fullest advantage while also preserving dining dollars throughout the term. 

Go to the Hans as much as possibleWhether you have the Blue or Gold plan, using dining dollars regularly to get full meals is going to drain your dining dollars quick. At some places, such as Currito or Seasons, you could be spending at least ten dollars for just one meal. Whenever possible, try to go to the Hans and use a meal swipe instead of splurging with your dining dollars. By going to the Hans as much as possible, you can save dining dollars for snacks and late-night study sessions when you need a midnight meal and the Hans is closed. 

Get Hans Take-OutHans also has options for take-out. Hans take-out is convenient if you’re on the run, but it can also be a good idea to get take-out for a later meal. After you’ve eaten at the Hans, you can get your ID swiped again and get a take-out box and cup, load it up with food and a drink, and you’ll have a meal or two for a later time. I like filling the take-out box up with cereal and the cup with milk so I’ll have breakfast for the next day!

Get Take 3When you don’t feel like walking from the dorms down to the Hans, but you don’t want to spend any dining dollars, Take 3 is a convenient option. Located in the Marketplace of Northside, Take 3 lets you get an entree, a side, and a drink for one meal swipe. The only downside of Take 3 is that it is only open Monday-Friday from 12-8 and you are only allowed one meal swipe from 12-3:30 and one more from 3:30-8, so planning ahead is important so you aren’t left hungry. Take 3 also serves as a convenient option when planning ahead for later meals. 

Get Coffee ElsewhereInstead of spending five bucks for a coffee at Starbucks, get coffee with your meal swipe at the Hans or grab one to-go after you’ve finished your meal. They have a whole section in the middle of the tables where you can make up your own coffee in portable coffee cups. It might not be as fancy or delicious as Starbucks, but a Hans coffee can save you some dining dollars when you’re running short.

Make a Weekly Dining Dollars BudgetSo that you aren’t left with zero dining dollars by the time finals week rolls around and a trip to the Hans is invconvenient, split up your dining dollars so that you have a certain amount you let yourself spend each week. There’s ten weeks in a quarter for each meal plan, so with a Gold Plan, try to stick to no more than $20 a week spent in dining dollars, and for the Blue Plan, try to stick to no more than about $48. If you stick to a weekly budget and try not to go over it (and, in fact, try and stay under it), you won’t be left without dining dollars at the end of the term. 

Making the most of your meal plan takes a lot of planning ahead and some self-control. By utilizing everything the Hans has to offer and budgeting dining dollars, a meal plan can go a long way to make sure you’re always well-fed.

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