July 23, 2019 | 71° F

Weigh in on whether or not you need a meal plan

Photo by Nikhilesh De |

Mark Gulick, a manager at Neilson Dining Hall, was transferred out of the Brower Dining Commons on Monday, but employees at the facility say he needs to return.

To get a meal plan, or not to get a meal plan — that is the question: Whether ‘tis nobler to try and cook for yourself for seven days a week, or to head to Brower for some not-so-home cooked ready-to-go food. But really — for students who live off campus, getting a meal plan versus not getting a meal plan is quite a big decision, both money-wise and time-wise. For a 255 meal plan, which will allow you to have three meals every weekday, you’ll have to fork over about $2,553. Can’t decide if you want to spend the money on the meal plan, or cook for yourself? Here are some pros and cons for both options:


  • It’s quick: Swipe in, grab some food and eat, then head out. No need to defrost chicken or wait for water to boil, since everything is already prepared.
  • It’s pretty healthy: Each dining hall offers plenty of healthy choices, especially with the decent-sized salad bars. Eating healthy at the dining halls isn’t too difficult.
  • Pizza & ice cream: All. The. Time.


  • There’s a set menu: While the dining halls do have a lot of varied options, sometimes they just don’t have that one thing that you’re craving after class.
  • It’s not-so-comfortable: There’s nothing like coming home after class or work and being able to eat dinner in your own apartment and then veg out. Unfortunately, Brower does not have a couch that will allow you to pass out post food coma.
  • At times it's not convenient: Having to walk back and forth from your apartment to the dining hall when you need to use swipes is just plain annoying.


  • Adulthood: Congrats! You’re like, 60 percent an adult if you can cook for yourself on a daily basis. But really, self-sufficiency is a good thing.
  • Cooking: It’s an art. If you enjoy cooking, then a semester without a meal plan will probably be fun and right up your alley.
  • Timing: Dining hall shut at 9 p.m.? No problem — just cook something yourself.


  • Cooking: Some people just aren’t good at cooking. Like me.
  • The temptation: Hansel is right around the corner. And even if it’s not, you’ll probably justify the walk anyway.
  • Going grocery shopping: If you don’t have a car, your best option in the area is Key Food, which is past the train station, but carrying groceries is not fun whatsoever.

Overall, it doesn’t seem like either option is completely better than the other. As someone who has experienced off-campus life without a meal plan, and who has vastly underestimated their time and ability to cook, I humbly suggest to those who have just signed their leases for next year to invest in either the 50 or the 75 plan, which are designed for off-campus students or commuters. That way, you can cook for yourself and experience adulthood first-hand, but also occasionally head to Brower for all-you-can-eat ice cream for when it’s one of those days. 

Katherine Moretti

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