For many new students, one of the big changes between university and high school is the amount of time they spend on campus. Sure, you may only have class three days a week and that’s only for a few hours, but some time around mid-term season many first-years look up from their laptops and realize that they’ve set up a small campsite in the library. The fact is, even on commuter campuses, most students will spend a lot of time on campus and sooner or later they get hungry.
The first thing I learned is that no matter what they’re serving in the cafeteria, odds are there’s something better and cheaper available across the street. My first year at Concordia I lived in residence and was forced to buy a meal plan, I have not eaten in the cafeteria since. I have fond memories of the meals that combined ingredients from the previous days, the liquid cheese on taco night and the first week when only the grill was opened for lunch and, being a vegetarian at the time, eating nothing but grilled cheese. I also learned how to make better spaghetti in the microwave than they served at the cafeteria.
Seriously, if you’re going to buy lunch go off campus. Explore the neighbourhood around your school a little bit, there might be some great options a few blocks away.
There also might be a student-run cafe on your campus. This might be a better bet in terms of price and quality, though it may not. Some schools also have “free” lunches (paid for through your student fees), here at Concordia there are student-run “free” lunches at both campuses. The food isn’t always the best but it’s definitely the cheapest option.
Another idea is to bring your own lunch. If you’ve got time to make breakfast in the morning, you’ve got time to make a sandwich or pack up some leftovers, most campuses have microwaves for students to use. You’ll save money and, depending on your cooking skills, it could be pretty tasty.
If you’re spending a lot of time studying or working at home get a coffee maker, not only is homemade coffee a lot cheaper than buying it at a coffee shop, when you pull those inevitable all-nighters having the ability to make (and drink) an entire pot of coffee is well worth it.