I can understand why students are required to have a meal plan for their freshmen year. Freshmen living on-campus don't have immediate access to kitchen appliances, cars, or really any money for the matter. However, once you move off campus, meal plans are just not worth it.
Meal plans are super expensive. One simple "punch" is supposedly worth $7 when in reality you're spending more than $10 each time. That's more than a burrito bowl at chipotle or frozen meals from Walmart. Why spend thousands of dollars on a meal plan each semester when you can just do some easy grocery shopping and spend way less money?
When students have a specific amount of punches per week, it sometimes can be surprisingly difficult to use them all. First and foremost, you don't want to waste money that has already been spent. What if one morning you just want to eat your own cereal for breakfast? Or maybe one night you just want a microwavable mac-and-cheese? You can hardly do those without thinking about the money you're wasting!
Let's say you have 14 punches a week. Every Sunday, your punches would restart in count. If at the end of the week students still have punches left, they typically will just go someplace on campus and spend however much on meals they need to in order for it to be worth the extra amount of punches they have remaining. That is such a waste.
School meal plans also add unwarranted pressure on students to be forced to eat more, which can lead to obesity. These meal plans are a major culprit when referring to the weight gain of first-year students, known as the "freshmen 15." By simply ditching campus food, you are already at less of a risk of both overeating and putting on weight.
Campus food isn't even healthy. There are many places on campus that convince you that you're eating healthy food when in reality you're just eating junk and an unnecessary load of calories. Even if you're not a chef or you don't like to cook, going to a local grocery store and buying food is so much better for you. There are so many cheap meals that you can purchase from a local grocery store like soup, pasta, and hot dogs that are all beyond easy to make. Buying and cooking your own groceries is something that everyone should learn how to do on their own in college.
As college students, it's essential to save money and reduce spending. Even if parents are the ones buying your meal plan, don't drain their wallets over them. These pre-paid accounts are expensive and bottom line a waste of money. Once you live off campus, do yourself a favor and don't sign up for a meal plan.
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