Navigating dining options can be tiring — even when you’re required to have a meal plan as a freshman living on campus, finding good-tasting or nutritious meals requires tact. By the time I was in my second semester, I was essentially surviving off of my one-a-day meal exchange. But luckily, I’ve picked up some tips to help you make the most of your meal plan and avoid becoming second-semester me.
Do get the Comet 10 Plan, which gives you the least meal swipes. Realistically, you may not be going to DHW by second semester because you’ll discover that there are much better options both on and off campus.
Don’t forget to prepare for weekend meals, since meal exchange does not work on weekends. Take this as an opportunity to check out fun options at both the Student Union and Northside and explore eateries in Richardson!
Do try out all the meal exchange options in the first few weeks of school to figure out what you like and what is closest to each of your classes. This also ensures that you know there are other options after you inevitably overconsume at one restaurant.
Don’t go to the same eatery every day! I learned the hard way that even though Halal Shack is one of the few dining options with lots of vegetables, you’ll get tired of eating the same thing for months on end. Allow yourself to rotate between different options to reduce the likelihood of getting tired of your favorite dinner.
Do take advantage of the fact that Taco Bell meal exchange is open from 4 p.m. until 12 a.m. The campus location is perfect for those late-night study sessions when you suddenly realize that you’re hungry.
Don’t use your meal exchange for breakfast unless you have solid plans for both lunch and dinner. Even then, you never know when plans will fall through. If you really want a morning meal exchange, go around 10 a.m. or 11 a.m. so you won’t feel hungry again until a little later.
Do use meal exchange at Smoothie King to get the fruits and vegetables that might otherwise be lacking in your diet. However, be warned that the line is usually long around lunch time, and it often takes up to 20 minutes to receive your smoothie.
Don’t forget that many locations around campus close at 4 p.m. If you really want a veggie melt from Einstein’s for dinner, which is fantastic, get it beforehand and eat it when the time is right. You can check the Dining Service calendar online at services.utdallas.edu/dining/
Do stock up on chips, salads and sandwiches from the Market meal exchange if you get lucky enough to have a day where you aren’t shackled by the brutal hand of the meal plan. Keep in mind that meal exchanges are not available on weekends.
Don’t avoid eating because there isn’t something tasty to eat as a part of your meal plan. Look for events where free food is provided!