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Meal Plans! Suggestions for College Students about Planning Meals

written by: Tia Ahmed•edited by: Noreen Gunnell•updated: 5/22/2011

Meal plan suggestions for college students are numerous, but some miss the point of addressing the flaws of basic options. Does the student have a say in meal plan options? If so, how would they accept or decline meal plan suggestions by the college? What if a student did not live on campus?

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    Meal Plans or Meal Planning

    Being away from home is tough; nothing is tougher than missing mom's special recipes that used to fill you up every day and had prepared you for the rest of the day. Mom and dad made sure you ate on time and monitored the portions and even made an effort to meet your daily nutrient needs. In college, that is not going to happen. Mom and dad or whoever you were being raised by are not there to guide you anymore. So, here is a very general, but not limited to list of meal plan suggestions for college students.

    First of all, meal plans or meal planning is not specific to just college students, but the focus in this article will revolve around college students' lives. Meal plans are a term describing the eating habits of college students. As most of current college students are aware Ramen noodles and beer are not the only forms of sustenance while studying, there are cafeterias or on campus restaurants that can provide meals much like high school cafeterias used to.

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    College Cafeteria Meal Plans

    Meal plans offered by the colleges are focused more on traditional full time students fresh out of high school without prior living outside of their home environment. The cafeteria meal plans are usually covered by your tuition and provide cafeteria food at least three times a day on weekdays and at least twice on weekends. Guilford College, Elon University, and University of North Carolina Greensboro follow the three meal a day for weekdays and two meals a day on weekends.

    A student can easily get this meal plan option through the registration process of each college. Since this process varies from college to college, the exact method to accept or decline a meal plan cannot be accurately known; however, it can be noted that most colleges have the option to opt out on any meal plan provided by the institution.

    The college can offer many different types of meal plans to traditional college students who choose to live on campus. Some types of meal plans typically offered include nineteen trips or passes to the cafeteria at any hour, fourteen trips or passes, ten trips or passes, etc. Most colleges have fixed plans, but some might offer more flexible options. All in depth inquires should be made with the specific college since the rules may vary significantly from institution to institution.

    The major plus about this option is that a student will not worry about running out of food and starve or spend too much buying a more expensive meal. One downside to this option is that a student will not be able to snack in between the larger meals and as with most college student lifestyles, midnight snacking is almost a tradition.

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    Off-campus Meal Plan

    Most college students live on campus, but for the select few who choose to live off campus for their first year the suggestion for meal plans is simple. Budget yourself. If a can of beans costs 20 cents less at some other store, then go to that other store. Save as much money as you possibly can on food. Understand that you are a student and not a health fitness coach or super model, if the later applies, please disregard this entire article.

    Planning well ahead is essential in off-campus meal planning. You must, as a student, expect more stressful work and therefore must include quick meals such as Ramen or instant noodles in the menu. Food is essential in meeting achievements in college, but since most of the time you will be running around forgetting to eat or eat right, take multivitamins as a back up. In the world of fast paced learning and applying what you've learned, the brain needs to function well enough to keep up; sometimes what you eat alone won't be enough, so invest in some multivitamins.

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    Which is the "Right" Option?

    College meal plans are experienced provisions for college students. They are relatively inexpensive based on the overall tuition a student has to pay, and some colleges allow students to take certain items such as fruits out of the cafeteria to be used as snack items. A student can easily accept or decline a meal plan option through the college. It's difficult to opt out of going to the rocery store if you don't have some sort of meal plan.

    Living off-campus can get very expensive and, without proper meal planning, can be disastrous to a student's academic life. The less stress a student has to go through the better it is for them in the long run. However, there is that option of eating whenever you want included in this option.