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On-Campus Dining and Off-Campus Meals

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By Gillian Leonard
University of New Mexico

Every university with dorms has a cafeteria that feeds students morning, noon, and night. For most students, the dining hall is none too exciting. For others, the food couldn't be better. Not too impressed by the dining hall food? Eat off campus! Either way, there are several ways that eating on campus can be made worthwhile and eating off campus can be fun and affordable.

Eating On Campus:

Make a note of the menu (if available)

Many cafeterias will post their menus somewhere at the entrance. If you see something you like, go on in and enjoy! For the cafeterias that do not post their menus, ask a dining hall employee to tell you what is being served. You may encounter a policy that does not allow students past the front desk if they are not eating. If this is the case, definitely ask a staff member to tell you what is being served. In the case that nothing seems appealing, then you haven't wasted a meal swipe and can hopefully find food elsewhere.

Take advantage of available fresh fruits and vegetables

Everyone knows the campus cafeteria does not always offer the healthiest of foods. But, if yours offers a salad bar or fresh fruit, grab some. When your options just seem to be fried of refried, head to the salad bar and grab some healthy greens and vegetable toppings. There are usually no limits on the number of pieces of fruit you can take, so be sure to grab a couple of apples, oranges, bananas, or any other fruit offered. This way, you can have a healthy snack for class or that that all-nighter you're pulling for the next day's exam.

Eat with friends

Round up a few neighbors from the dorm and walk together to the cafeteria. Pick a spot inside where you can all sit together and share some good conversation. Sometimes the company of friends and some good conversation will take away your cafeteria blues It can certainly make your breakfast, lunch, or dinner more exciting.

Eating Off Campus:

Find restaurants near campus

Many cities with universities tend to have several eateries surrounding campus. If you live in the dorms, many restaurants are within walking distance. When you crave something other than cafeteria food, put on your walking shoes, head to a nearby restaurant, and eat something delicious! If there is a restaurant that is a little too far to walk to, find a friend with a car, ask them out to eat, and treat them to dinner. This way, you have spent a pleasant time away from the dining hall.

Check your campus paper for coupons

A lot of local and chain restaurants advertise in university newspapers. Many restaurant owners know that college students are strapped for cash so they put out coupons in order to attract you to their establishment and give your wallet a break. Various restaurants put coupons in campus publications such as newspapers or coupon books. If you never read your school paper but enjoy discounted food, pick up a paper and check for valuable coupons!

Have a pizza party

Every college loves a good pizza party. Pick an evening and get together with some neighbors and have pizzas delivered to your dorm. Technically, you're still on campus, but by ordering pizza, you are getting to enjoy non cafeteria food and have opened yourself up to meeting your neighbors, or perhaps being afforded an opportunity to get to know them better.

Wherever you decide to eat, make sure it is somewhere that is going to give you the best selection and the tastiest options.