A meal plan is usually a system of buying food up front for your entire semester at the school you attend. Some schools require that their on-campus students purchase a meal plan, particularly first-year students attending a public university. This meal plan usually has all of the different food groups separated out and the amounts of each food group noted. The goal of your meal plan is to have you eating the most nutritious foods possible while keeping it easy enough to fit into your busy schedule.
The first thing your meal plan should include is a guide on how much food you can buy with your Dining Dollars each day. It is important that you know how much money you have per meal so you do not run out before the semester ends. Some people think that it is okay to spend more per meal than you should, but it is actually better to have less. People who eat less eat more often and people who eat more often eat less.
Most meal plans will have you purchase some snacks along with your meals. The number of snacks you buy is not as important as how much you buy. Many of the best dining options are in-house restaurants so the snacks you get there will be better than at any of the other restaurants on your campus. In-house restaurants have a higher quality control group that makes sure the food they serve is delicious and does not have anything in it that will leave you sick or undesirable after eating it.
One of the most important parts of your meal plan for first years in college is your breakfast. Many of your classmates probably skip the morning meal and will eat something between classes or through the cafeteria door in the afternoon. While this is fine in the long run, it is unhealthy for the first year of college as your metabolism is still developing and your body does not burn calories like it normally does during the day. College students especially do not want to feel hungry all the time. Your best bet for breakfast is an on-campus or campus cafe as these offer a wide variety of choices from the classics to gourmet offerings.
Your second day on your first year of college will consist of either one of two things: either an in-house cafeteria or campus cafe. Campus cafes are generally a better option as they offer a more consistent supply of food compared to the cafeteria. Some of these campuses even offer lunch at certain times of the day which is great as well. Cafes usually offer a morning meal, a mid-morning snack, and a late-afternoon snack. The in-house cafeteria can vary greatly; some offer only pizza, pasta, or Chinese food, while others offer a wide variety of choices including meatballs, wraps, and more. You will have to look around and see which places offer the types of food you want and like, so do your research before you make any decisions.
Your last day for your meal plan will be the evening meal. This is when most people have cravings for something sweet and delicious. If you cannot eat sugary foods then this is the day for you to stock up on strawberries, chocolate, or cookies. Most campus cafeterias also serve snacks throughout the evening and after dinner. These can be anything from trail mix to pretzels to popcorn, so shop around for good deals and save time!