The pros and cons of meal plans, or: “$ vs. :P”
Freshman year is a time for new and interesting experiences: first loves, first final exams, and first naïve visit to Health Services in search of actual medical help. But no matter, every freshman has to spend a year with a meal plan—and then, in most cases, spend three more years alternately enjoying culinary freedom and cursing the ease with which their fellow students swipe into Ferris for bottomless soda and carrot cake. Is having a meal plan really so bad—or put another way, is not having one really so great?
With meal swipes, you can pretty much dine and dash whenever your schedule allows you the chance—especially at Ferris on a weekday. Factor in the free Dining Dollars that come with every meal plan and you’re sitting pretty on at least five sushi rolls from Café East. Basically, YOU CAN FOOD ALWAYS. Whereas when you are the one who must food the food, sometimes you are too busy to food the food when you want the food. And then no food.
But when you DO have time to food the food, you can craft masterful damn food phantasmagorias: cornucopias overflowing with the gifts of the earth, or bacon-garlic-bread-mac-and-cheese. You can buy everything from Trader Joe’s to save money, or if you’re one of those fabled people who don’t have to use a calculator to figure out if they can spend three extra dollars on a jar of peanut butter, you can shop your heart away at Westside or Milano, and you know exactly how good your meal will be.
PRO: Cost (magic)
Meal swipes are magic. They let you have everything you want for as long as you don’t leave the dining hall—and if you are like me and have no shame about smuggling the occasional Tupperware, you can save swipes by taking home leftovers. And they give you free Dining Dollars. That’s free fake money, right there! Whereas in the rest of New York, an hour of minimum wage pay will buy you a can of beans and a potato. You’ll have to go on a payment plan for the pot and the water.
CON: Cost (actual)
Remember how this education thing is actually costing you money? Like, a hell of a lot of money? Meal plans cost between around $900 (Plan D) to $2200 (Plan A). That is a whole hell of a lot of money on its own—plus the $60,000 or whatever it costs to battle Nussbaum roaches and wait fifteen minutes for the Hamilton elevator. With a good budget plan for groceries and some shopping research, you can save so much more money buying your own food than if you’re paying for a meal plan.
There is a reason people eat at JJ’s and Wilma’s Grill and the Ferris dessert counter. It is because these places serve delicious food. It is base dishonesty to claim that the JJ’s curly fries are anything but postmodern manna from Heaven. And if anyone insults Wilma, I will rip their legs off and then use them to beat that person to death.
Yeah, there’s probably crack in the fries. And by “crack”, I mean more saturated fat and simple carbs than you can shake a stick at, which you won’t be able to do when you have become a giant sentient ball of adipose tissue. Your food at home may not always be amazing or exciting, but at least you know everything going into it. Bless Wilma, but she’s definitely got a vat of lard hidden back there. Just like, a vat.
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