I never used to be picky about where I ate, but after my last dining experience, that changed.
After an extremely difficult spring exam, I found myself starving with only 20 minutes to spare before an appointment. The first thing I found that looked even slightly appetizing was a ham and egg breakfast sandwich from an express food store on campus. I bought it and sat down to eat.
After a few bites, I felt something odd. Then I pulled a bread clip and two pieces of what I suspect were burnt plastic out of my mouth. It made me think hard about eating on the run.
Really, it was just the final straw. Sketchy food is only one of the reasons I plan to avoid eating on campus as I enter my second year at the University of Alberta. Here are the other three:
1: It can be a waste of money.
Obviously I threw out the sandwich after I bit into it. Then I realized I had run into another problem—no money to buy anything else to eat after wasting $3.50 on that sketchy breakfast.
Come to think of it, even when campus food doesn’t have unsavory surprises, it can still be a waste of money. Meals you can trust, like homemade sandwiches, are much cheaper.
Let me demonstrate. Eggs cost, on average, $3.09 per dozen or about 25 cents per egg. The last time I bought ham it was about $2.00 for 100 grams (this will provide you with enough for about two breakfast sandwiches.) Six English muffins are $2.99 (or about 50 cents each). Add it all up and it’s $1.75. I could have the same meal for half the cost of the one I threw out!
2: Finding something healthy and quick is hard.
While it is possible to find a fresh sandwich or wrap on campus, it’s usually easiest to reach for greasy food like pizza or a pre-made lunch that has been sitting in the cooler for… who knows how long. If I bring my lunch, I can worry less about feeling sick for hours or being late for class.
3: A healthy lunch prepares me to learn.
It has been said over and over again that a nutritious diet boosts energy, increases productivity and reduces stress. I’ve never been able to think of a time that I’ve needed these things more as a student dealing with the stress and lack of energy of long study sessions.
That’s why, come September, I’ll get up a few minutes early to pack my lunch more often.
If I need any motivation, I’ll just think of that sketchy breakfast sandwich.
Ravanne Lawday is a second-year English major at the University of Alberta.