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College: Meal Plan Vs. Cooking
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Well, I am currently a college sophomore. As a freshman, we were required to have large meal plans. I had the largest one so I ate in the dining hall every day, but so did everyone else. For gluten-free, it wasn't great, but decent. Sometimes they put out some food that was gluten-free and fine, but some days, I was eating hamburgers with no bun, salads, and lots and lots of fruit.

Now as a sophomore, we have much bigger dorm rooms and we have kitchens. We still have to have a meal plan, but they can be much cheaper. Mine is currently the same one as last year, around $2100. But they have a variety of plans, such as $1500 and $1280 and $685 declining balance meal plan, where you can switch between the dining hall and cooking (FYI, prices to eat in the dining hall average around $8).

I'm looking to change to another plan because I want to do SOME cooking now.....while the dining hall is convenient, I'm sick of having some meals where I eat only fruit as my main course and am not quite getting the full $8 worth every meal. The $1280 looks like a good option. But then money is the most important for me now and I'm wondering if I could somehow fill myself up while not paying more than $800 for groceries in a semester (keep in mind I would have about 160 meals in the dining hall for the semester). I've never done my own grocery shopping before so I am unsure about prices. And I know gluten-free food is more expensive and I don't have the convenience of just having Ramen for a meal.....I'd mostly have to prepare and cook. There's a cheap grocery store right on campus but all they really have are meat, cereal (the Chex kind), tortillas, rice, and potatoes, which I feel could get old after awhile. It's in the city too so there are whole foods, but that's a train ride away.

Ahhhhh......sorry if this is so long, there are so many factors to consider with cooking and the money and the fact that we are required to use a meal plan, no matter how little. I just have no experience......so I wanna hear your thoughts if possible. I could maybe get opted out......could I survive on $2100 in groceries for a semester? I'm a guy so I eat a lot too.

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Well, thats when you go and learn. You have to do so sometime. To be honest, I spend much less than i did when i was on gluteny foods (with meal plan). I don't eat a lot of processed gluten free foods too.

As of right now, I'm in an on campus apartment with my own kitchen. I spend... maybe $150 on food a month? This is along with cleaning stuff and what have yous.

I also have to take a taxi to go to the store ($20 round trip).

Are you in the U.S.? If so, you can get accomodations even if it means forfeting the meal plan. The head of disabilities at my uni tried to talk me into staying in the dorms and living off of the cafateria food (in which i would have to meet every week with a staff person, explain to them, etc). I opted out of that.

Rice is cheap, as are beans. Those mixed with some veggies and meat can make some really good meals. Along with eggs (also cheap).

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Whole foods. Man, they are cheap. Not to mention, you could cook and freeze your meals beforehand if you don't have much time to cook...

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And if you got a crockpot, you could toss everything in there in the morning, set it to low, let it cook all day and it would be ready when you are. :D A few chicken drumsticks, onions, garlic, tomatoes, mushrooms, voila, chicken cacciatore. :lol: Serve over gluten free noodles, enough for several meals.

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And if you got a crockpot, you could toss everything in there in the morning, set it to low, let it cook all day and it would be ready when you are. biggrin.gif A few chicken drumsticks, onions, garlic, tomatoes, mushrooms, voila, chicken cacciatore. laugh.gif Serve over gluten free noodles, enough for several meals.

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You have a big budget to work with. I'd try the cooking thing. You can always go back to the meal plan. I think you may miss the social stuff from the meal plan. You could bring you food and eat with friends. Try this plan. My husband loved the social aspect of college.

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I have the same questions about the meal plan, since I am going to be moving to a new college in Chicago very soon. I will probably be doing a combination of cooking and the cafeteria. I really want to eat with everyone else, but I think I will need to do some of my own cooking in order to stay gluten-free without being cross contaminated.

You can definitely survive on that much money, and cook yourself gourmet foods in the process. If you want convenience, order from Amazon and have the foods shipped to your door. I like Rice and Shine for breakfast with coconut oil, and I love the sprouted beans they sell in large packages. You can also get lentils, rice flours, and tons of other groceries from Amazon. All of those foods can be found online without having to go to the store at all.

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