How to Use Up Your Meal Plan
Published: Monday, April 30, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 19:01
I handed my BC ID over to the cashier, and the expression of shock and amusement on her face was priceless. “Oh my God,” she exclaimed, “that’s a lot of money!” My friends frequently reminded me that I would never finish up my meal plan at the rate I was going, but hearing the concern from one of the women who works at Mac prompted me to come to a daunting realization: I had about $1,200 left on my meal plan and less than three weeks to spend it.
How did I allow this to happen? Why does it seem that all the students around me have a normal amount of money left on their meal plan, while I am struggling to break $1000? Granted, I did have about $700 carry over from last semester, but I still don’t understand why—I ate three meals a day, just like everyone else!
Realizing that I had to take major action, I decided I needed to write down a plan, and I would like to share this plan with anyone who is in the same situation. So here it is: How to use up your meal plan money.
First of all, get used to drinking copious amounts of Smartwater and Odwalla. They are your new best friends. With a price of over $4 a bottle, I buy at least one of the two every day—it’s a small step, but can make a difference in the end. Plus, I always get a mood boost when I see those adorable little sea creatures on the inside of the Smartwater bottles reminding me to recycle—my personal favorite is “don’t be shellfish!”
Second, befriend those who have dangerously low amounts of money on their meal plan (I don’t think it would take that much convincing). Offer to buy someone lunch or a snack, and whenever you’re leaving a group of people to get food from the dining hall, ask if anyone wants anything. Someone is bound to accept your offer, especially those who are too lazy to walk to Mac to grab mozzarella sticks from Late Nite.
Third, make it a point to buy more snacks. The boxes of granola bars and Pop-Tarts, for example, are pricey enough to use up some money and can be saved to share with your family when you return home. Another idea would be to have a movie night one weekend, and offer to buy chips and soda for the whole group. One day I bought a 10-pack of chocolate chip cookies from Corcoran Commons and just offered them up to any friend in passing—who doesn’t love free cookies?
Back when everyone was giving up something for Lent, I vowed to limit myself to two desserts a week. However, with my current predicament I have found an excuse to buy dessert every night—although I’ll probably regret this decision when swimsuit season rolls around. For the time being, I have been convinced that it would be better to focus on the financial issues at hand, despite the fact that I feel like I’m being judged whenever a girl in Plex clothes walks by me as I’m devouring an ice cream sundae.
On the flip side, I also have purchased more fruit along with my meals—the fruit medleys and carrot sticks from the refrigerators are more expensive than the fresh fruit, so those have been my go-to healthy snack foods whenever I have a lunch consisting of greasy pizza or steak and cheese.
I don’t know if I’ll be able to spend most of my money, although I’m sure I’ll be spending a lot more time in the dining hall while I’m eating my feelings during finals week. Hopefully, these tips will prove useful in the near future, and I have definitely learned for next year to keep track of my spending. Although I’d like to complain that Boston College should not put so much money on the meal plan, the fact of the matter is that every student is different, and many factors contribute to the cost of the meal plan. The best we can do is to plan accordingly, and possibly take a few more visits to the service trip tables next semester. Donate to Arrupe? Absolutely.