Meal swipes: Best practices

<p>&nbsp;<strong>Madeline Grosh, DN</strong></p>

 Madeline Grosh, DN

If you live on campus, you have a meal plan, per your room and board fees. Ball State dining has now changed its rules so you can now use two meal swipes in one purchase. Here are some ways to effectively use your meal plan at any on-campus locations:

Skip the soft drink:

The freshman 15 is a real thing and while your total meal may leave you with $1.80 to spare, a large soft drink is not the solution.

Save some money and calories by choosing to grab two 12 ounce cups of water instead. Not only is this a free alternative to your regular soft drink option, but it will save you avoid some calories and provide you with extra money to spend on other items.

Use all of your meal plan:

If you don’t use your entire meal plan — $5.35 for breakfast and $9 for lunch and dinner — then you’re just cheating yourself. Even if you’re not super hungry in the moment, use whatever leftover money you have to buy a drink or a snack that can be eaten later so you don’t have to use dining plus when you need a quick snack.

Don’t buy full meals with dining plus:

Your dining plus should be used in emergency cases only. Don’t waste a fifth of your plus on a single meal, when you can use 10, 20 or 30 cents at a time when you go over your meal plan. This will save you money over time and allow you to keep maximizing your meal plan.

With that being said, if it’s the end of the semester and you have $30 leftover, go nuts. Buy every snack you can for your ride home.

Dining plus rolls over:

If it’s the end of the fall semester and you realize you haven’t used as much dining plus as is on your card, don’t fret. The remainder will be added to your dining plus for the spring semester.

If it’s the spring semester though, and you have money left over, definitely use it. This is something you already paid for and it will just go to waste if you don’t utilize it.

Find cheap alternatives:

One of the best ways to save money on campus is to figure out food prices at each one of the locations on campus.

Some items are cheaper in certain locations than they are in other food places on campus. If you know where the cheaper options are when you have a craving, it will go a long way in getting you more food.

Also, Starbucks coffee is great, but there are several other locations on campus where you can get your caffeine buzz for half the price.

Get a water bottle/coffee mug:

Having these two items in your backpack will go a long way to ensure that you are hydrated on campus and awake enough to finish that homework assignment at Bracken Library.

While drinking fountains will not be operational during the fall on account of the COVID-19 pandemic, reusable containers still go a long way in reducing the amount of waste you produce.

Actually use them:

It’s too easy to go out to dinner every night one week and forget that you have an on-campus meal plan. Don’t forget to use your plan regardless of what you eat throughout the week.

Even if it’s just buying a few bag of chips or some drinks for later, it’s better than not using your meal plan at all.

Find on-sale items:

Believe it or not, certain foods like fruits and vegetables do have a shelf life. Often, in order to get rid of them, Dining Services will mark these items as 50 percent off if the shelf life is coming to an end.

So if you’re looking for a light snack that you can eat right away, be sure to check fridges for on sale items. It never hurts to get cheap food.

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