1. Use meal swipes
Ah, the humble meal swipe. A gift from God himself. What else could be No. 1 on this list? After all, a meal swipe is basically free food on Grounds at all of your favorite restaurants. Everything sounds good, right? And those first few weeks, everything IS good. You’re in the honeymoon period. The Castle is healthy! Chick-fil-A is divine! Crossroads is the only source of nourishment open past 9 p.m. But sooner or later, the honeymoon comes to an end, and you must face the realities of the real world. The Castle used to be dirty, in the best way possible. Chick-fil-A only offers meal swipes when it knows you won’t use them. Crossroads burrito bowls are emptier than your bank account, and its pasta tastes like tears. At least it’s still free…
2. Snack around Grounds
If you can’t be a whole meal, at least be a tasty snacc. Luckily, there are plenty of places to grab a quick bite on Grounds. And don’t worry — there is a little something for everybody. You can go for coffee at the Alderman Café! Or the Clark Café! Or the Fine Arts Café! Or Café McLeod! And if you don’t like cafés? No problem! You can go to ... the Newcomb Starbucks! Or the Nau Starbucks! Wait, those are still cafés. I guess Crossroads is still open.
3. The food trucks
“I love you” is only the second-best sentence in the English language. The first? “Dumplings, tacos, pies!” Let’s face it — you would rather have any of those things than love. Love is temporary — the satisfaction you get from eating out of a portable restaurant the size of a walk-in closet is forever. After all, what’s not to like? The food is delicious, cheap and located right in Central Grounds. “Why don’t I go there all the time,” you ask yourself as you run from your 12:00 p.m. class in Wilson to your 1:30 p.m. in Clark.
4. Pavilion XI
You love the taste of Five Guys. You love the taste of Chick-fil-A. You love the smell of Subway. But you also love your BMI, and you know you’re never going to actually go to the AFC in the evening. You’ve written it on your calendar for the past two weeks. Just stop. It’s a waste of lead.
5. The Corner
“You’ve trashed every option on Grounds, you picky fool!” That’s what you’re probably thinking right now — minus the word fool, which I’m pretty sure nobody has used un-ironically since Mr. Jefferson was alive and choking down pasta at Crossroads. Luckily, the University has a bustling shopping strip a short distance away filled with bagels, dumplings and everything in between. The only downside — it’s only been two weeks, and the cashier at Bodo’s has already memorized your order. And she’s judging you for it. And I am too, you freak.
Delivery is a great way to add a little variety to your life. It is also a great way to add 30 pounds to it. Really, it’s the same issue as Pav, plus the financial strain of a delivery fee and the emotional strain of calculating the lowest possible tip that is still socially acceptable. Delivery is a great option for the occasional Saturday night in with the boys, but once you’re all down $80 and up eight pounds, you realize why occasions only happen occasionally.
7. Out on the town
“But you said this was for first-years! I don’t own a car!” Yes, but you do own something far greater — access to public transportation. There is nothing quite as amazing as the humble bus. And, with the humble bus, you have access to a wide array of — what? What do you mean you’re “not a bus person?” You aren’t willing to ride a bus for 10 — fine. Fine. I’m not going to argue. I can adapt.
8. Out on the town — In style
Here you go, Mr. Too-Good-For-The-Bus. Take an Uber to Sushi King. It’ll be $35 round trip, but at least you’ll still have your pride.
Are you a go-getter? Do you have a passion for sales? Can you handle rejection? If so, panhandling may be the route for you. Sure, you are taking valuable resources away from people who may actually need it. Sure, you are essentially lying about your financial situation to passersby and taking advantage of their good will. Sure, you are — you know what? Don’t do this one.
10. Suck it up, because you paid $2,500 for your meal plan
Sometimes, the truth isn’t what you wanted to hear — it’s what you needed to hear. Yes, that chicken has the texture of a hockey puck. Yes, that pizza has been sitting beneath a lamp for six hours. Yes, Runk is serving pork for the fifth night in a row. But here is a little secret — it really isn’t that bad. Sure, some items are sub-par. But all items can be covered in Old Bay, which proves that everyone can be redeemed.