What Meals Plans Are Best As An Incoming Student!

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What Meals Plans Are Best As An Incoming Student!

Coming to college is such a big adjustment, one of the biggest being food. Gone are the days when parents just cooked everything. College freshmen get to experience the time honored tradition of dorm food. My dorm (Newman Hall), which is private housing, has some great food, cooked by chefs who really cared about the people they were cooking for.

Every dining hall is a little bit different especially with meal plans. If a student chooses to live in private certified housing such as places like Bromley and Newman Hall, the meal plans might be a little different as opposed to university housing, which the majority of Freshman will choose for their first year.

University housing offers seemingly dizzying choices of meal plans that can be confusing:

  • 12 Classic Meals/15 Dining Dollars per week (aka 12/15)
  • 10 Classic Meals/45 Dining Dollars per week (aka 10/45)
  • All Classic Meals (dine up to 7 times per day, up to 47 meals per week)
  • All Dining Dollars (130 per week)

Selection of the wrong meal may mean leftover food credits that go to waste or your son or daughter starts eating out more to cover the shortage.

Let’s break down one of them: 12 Classic Meals/15 Dining Dollars per week.

  • 12 Classic Meals – Students are allowed 12 “swipes” into any of the University Residence Meal Halls for a complete meal. Think of it as sitting down for a meal, but they “swipe” their ID card to get in. However, in a normal 7 day period, you include breakfast, lunch and dinner, that’s 21 meals, so this plan falls way short. Therefore you have be selective on the twelve times you’ll go each week. Here are some ways student have broken down that schedule:
    • Week #1: 7 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 2 dinners.
    • Week #2: 2 breakfasts, 7 lunches, 3 dinners.
  • 15 Dining Dollars – Consider these pure dollars on credit that can be used at popular retail locations like the 57 North in Ikenberry or TerraByte at the Illinois Street Residence Hall that offer full meal options (burgers, pizza, etc) as well as snacks, drinks and frozen foods. (see other retail locations that are included HERE). It is used to augment the shortage of meals and allow students to eat when their schedules and appetites are read on top of their sit down meals. Keep in mind, unused dining dollars will be rolled for use for one additional week. If still unused, they will expire.

So the above 12/15 plan allows a student to mix and match when they goto to sit down or get snacks or on-the-go meals when they don’t have lot of time.

The most popular meal plan is the one where students choose 10 meals and 45 meal credits per week (aka 10/45). This is a good option because most students find themselves eating out or just having a snack and not using all of their meals during the week. The 45 credits are also beneficial because the grocery store allows for students to pick up something small that they can heat up in the microwave or have on the side. And students can use the cafe and have something to drink while they study.

As quick overview, here’s how we would suggest why you would pick the most common options:

  • 12 Classic Meals/15 Dining Dollars per week (aka 12/15) – Has a lot of snacks, likes to eat out, or doesn’t eat a lot. This is the bare bones option that can quickly run out.
  • 10 Classic Meals/45 Dining Dollars per week (aka 10/45) – As stated above, this is the most popular option.
  • All Classic Meals (dine up to 7 times per day, up to 47 meals per week) – If they desire to sit down for every meal AND can make every meal. Remember, this means any food from the retail stores will be cash.
  • All Dining Dollars (130 per week) – If they can’t get to any of the meal times and they are always on the go. If they can budget well, it can be a good options.

If your student finds they are eating differently than how they thought, they would you can change your meal plan for free the first two weeks of any semester. No matter what meal plan you go with, you will always have a variety of food to choose from.

But keep in mind, these are weekly plans, so you don’t use them each week, you lose them, so work with your son or daughter to determine quickly which one makes the most sense for them.

Lastly, on top of these dining options, there is Illini Cash. Illini cash is money that can be added to your student’s account and is accessible through their iCard and is acceptable at all dining halls as well as additional locations throughout campus. It is a great way to augment food purchases and allow your child to have a bit more options in eating solutions. To learn more about Illini Cash, click HERE.

For more information about meal plans, visit HERE.

written by Danna Sanderson.

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