Making the Most of the Last of Your Meal Points

After a semester’s worth of Late Night and Starbucks coffees, your current meal point balance is beginning to look worse than your bank account. With each passing week, students watch their meal points slowly dwindle down to nothing. The seemingly endless swipes at Chick-Fil-A are finally catching up to some of us, who now realize that it will be impossible to keep up these luxuries with the limited points we have left. In the final week of the semester when students need brain food the most, here are a few tips to make the most of the last of your meal points.

1)   Eat soup.

Soup is the cheapest item that qualifies as a meal at Redifer and the other à la carte places on campus. Soup costs right around $1.00, which is a steal compared to the prices of other menu items. Getting soup for one meal each day will allow you to save your points for your other meal of the day. An added bonus: Mac and cheese at Redifer is the same price as soup.

2)   Avoid Late Night.

This is really difficult, especially during finals week. But a ‘fourth meal’ is the same cost as a buffet dinner, and it’s an easy way to kiss your final few meal points goodbye. If you simply cannot avoid those midnight mozzarella sticks, eat Late Night in place of dinner so you don’t swipe for the most expensive meal of the day twice.

3)   Drink free coffee (and eat free food).

There are a ton of places on and around campus that offer free coffee to students during finals week. That Starbucks latte you will need to stay focused is pricey at $4, and that’s including the 10 percent discount (think of all of the soup you could buy). There are points you could save daily by taking advantage of free coffee options at the library, McLanahan’s, and other key locations. Many RAs and dorms also host study breaks for their residents that provide free food. Go to the events, meet some people, and chow down.

4)   Limit trips to convenience stores.

As with Late Night, this is tough to accept during the weeks in which you need your munchies the most. Convenience stores often charge more for items like chips, cookies, and ice cream than Walmart, Target, and other stores slightly off campus. This might also be the time to beg mom for a last minute care package filled with junk food.

5)   Don’t use meal points at the HUB.

In comparison to other on-campus dining commons, both the HUB and Au Bon Pain are expensive. While Burger King, Chick-Fil-A, and Starbucks do offer ‘brand-name’ food, students don’t receive any discounts while using meal points at the chains. Even places like Mixed Greens only offer a 10 percent discount, which is significantly less than the 65 percent discount applied in the other dining halls. If you do to go the HUB, try to use LionCash, which does offer a (smaller) discount.

6)   If you must go to the buffet, take full advantage of it.

Buffets are an opportunity for endless food, so fill up when you have the opportunity. If you choose to dine-in, you are allowed to take out one piece of fruit, which doubles your buffet swipe as breakfast for the next morning. Be careful when taking food out from the buffet — if the cashier suspects you of overloading on food, you can get double charged. But be sure to watch what you do take as well and fill up your container with items that can be eaten as leftovers if you don’t finish everything. This is even better if you decide to go to the buffet for lunch, which is cheaper than dinner.

Pro-tip: Utilize the take-out cup for more than just drinks. It can be filled with cereal, ice cream, or other foods if you run out of room in your container and can help with breakfast or dessert.

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About the Author

Alex Calderaro

Alex Calderaro is a junior majoring in Supply Chain Management from Central Jersey. As a first generation Penn Stater, she has found a home here in several places, including her sorority, and, of course, Onward State. You can contact her at [email protected] or follow her on twitter @alexcalderaro.

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