Are College Meal Plans Worth It?


If you are currently enrolled in a higher education programme, you have most likely given some thought to purchasing a meal plan. Freshmen are required to purchase meal plans at certain institutions, whereas other schools do not make this requirement. Is it worth the money to get a food plan for college given what you get?. Let us know ‘Are College Meal Plans Worth It?’.

Are College Meal Plans Worth It?

Are College Meal Plans Worth It?

Your own situation and preferences will determine whether or not you sign up for the food plan offered by your institution. We will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of different college meal plans so that you may make an informed decision.

The Fundamentals of College Meal Plans

Meal programmes at colleges and universities help students who can’t cook eat enough. Some college students can’t cook because they don’t have time, don’t know how, or can’t afford groceries. College meal plans are the best approach to guarantee students eat all three meals each day, which may be difficult for many reasons. Meal plans contain flex money and swipes or points. Students may utilise swipes to enter the dining hall, where they’ll discover lunch options. This means clients may enter and pick any dish. Students at certain schools may eat as much as they want in the dining hall. Others inform students how many meals they have left depending on their points. A dining hall meal counts against your authorised number of meals. Flex bucks are funds in student meal programmes. This is a semesterly meal plan allowance. This money can only be spent at campus cafes and restaurants. It gives pupils nourishment between meals.Flex money, swipes, and points have a predetermined value and cannot be refunded for the semester. If you need extra swipes, flex money, or anything else on your meal card, you may add it for a price.

Choosing not to purchase the meal plan

Many colleges require freshmen, if not all students, to buy a food plan when they arrive.

If you’re not required to have a meal plan, you may buy your own food and cook for yourself instead. From money to equipment, this choice’s details are presented.

1) Buying your own food is cheaper than college meal programmes. This is great news for those who already have a lot of debt. Even if feeding yourself comes with extra tasks, saving money is so beneficial that you should consider it.

2) You must know what you need to buy for your own food. This may entail developing a meal plan and buying the essential goods, or keeping track of what you use and refilling when you run out. Preparedness is key. You should always examine your diet while buying food.

3) If you purchase your own food, you must create a budget. You must know how much money you have to make a shopping budget. So you don’t spend too much on meals and can’t pay rent or purchase books.

4) Not all pupils can learn how to cook, which might be difficult when cooking your own meals. Cooking is a skill that can be learned, and there are many easy college recipes to try.

5) You can prepare whatever you want if you have the ingredients. Soup is available anytime you want it, so you won’t get weary with the dining hall meals.

The Benefits of Purchasing a Meal Plan

The majority of the time, college meal plans are not worth the money that students pay for them; nevertheless, they do have some advantages, and in this section, we are going to discuss the most significant perks that are included in each college meal plan. One of the most significant advantages of purchasing a meal plan for college is that it relieves students of the responsibility of preparing their own meals, which results in significant time savings.

1) You do not need to prepare meals

Cooking is a semester-long chore that most college students would prefer avoid. Some students don’t know how to cook and can’t create a range of cuisines. Some individuals can’t cook. Despite meal arrangements, many dormitory residents lack a kitchen. Meal arrangements for college students reduce the stress of cooking. You don’t need to cook since there are several hot meal options. Swipe your card to enjoy great, well-balanced meals without thinking about it.

2) It helps to save time

It is well known that college students have highly packed schedules, and it is already challenging enough to do all of your assignments, take care of yourself, and have a social life without also having to find time to cook and clean up after yourself. Shopping and preparing meals for oneself both require a significant investment of time, which is a commodity that relatively few college students possess. Simply showing up and eating is all that is required of you when you have a meal plan. Because it is fast, uncomplicated, and fully paid for, the only decision you need to make is which of the available options appeals to you the most. You could even simply go grab some lunch and then study in the dining hall when you’ve finished eating. And after that, you won’t even have to worry about cleaning up the mess!

3) You Do Not Need to Go to the Grocery Store

One further significant advantage of purchasing a meal plan for college is that it eliminates the need for students to go food shopping. Buying groceries may be a time-consuming endeavor since not only do you have to physically travel to the store and collect everything, but you also have to make a list of the things you need and create a budget for your purchases. As a college student, you not only have a lot more responsibilities on your plate, but you also need to make sure that you have the means to go to the supermarket.

The Downsides of Purchasing a Meal Plan

Despite their benefits, student meal plans aren’t always the best choice. College meal plans include fewer food selections, higher fees, and non-24-hour dining halls.

  • fewer choices

Student dining halls keep to the same menu even if they provide a variety of meals. If your college’s food options never vary, you’ll become bored. No matter how frequently you switch up your meals, you’ll eventually become bored. This may lead you to dine off campus, increasing your spending. Dietary restrictions are sometimes limited to one or two alternatives in dining halls, which may become old quickly. If you cook for yourself, you can make anything as long as you have the supplies. Self-cooks don’t have to worry about having ingredients.

  • Restaurants aren’t always open

If you make your own meals and do your own grocery shopping, you’ll never be hungry. The dining hall closes at 7 or 8 p.m. if you buy a meal package. Preoccupied students who missed the lunch may find this tough. Because many students stay up late studying or partying, it’s unrealistic to expect them to eat at mealtimes. If they don’t eat, they’ll grow hungry.

  • Its expensive

Student food plans’ exorbitant cost is their biggest downside. Most are unnecessary and may be expensive. Those included in your rent may be worth it. You probably won’t spend more than $700 to $1,200 on food for the semester. Meal plans might cost twice as much or more. Even if you maximise your meals and flex dollars, a meal plan might be too expensive. Even if you use all meal and flex dollars, this is true. Since a meal plan is supplied, you can’t control how much you spend on meals.


The majority of the time, the cost of meal plans at colleges is not worth it. The cost of a food plan at a college may range anywhere from $500 to $5,000 for the whole semester, depending on the campus. In contrast, a student who shops for their own food would spend between $600 and $1,500 over the course of the semester. Nevertheless, your lifestyle, the way you go to work, and your food all factor into the decision.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does it cost to get a meal plan for college?

Answer: The cost of a food plan might vary greatly from school to school. Undergraduate students who live in dormitories are sometimes required to purchase a food plan at certain educational institutions, especially those that mandate that first-year students reside on campus. In addition, there are meal plans that may not include all of the meals.

In what way does the meal plan operate?

Answer: The amount of meals that are included in a student’s weekly allotment is determined by the meal plan that they choose. From Sunday through Saturday, there are meals available. If a student chooses the 14 meal plan, they will have the ability to use their meal swipe card 14 times between Sunday and Saturday of each week. Every Sunday, the number of meals will be reset to zero.