Meal Plan Is A Scam

Extra, extra: Meal plan is a scam. (If meal plan is a part of your financial aid package, please read until the end.)

Here’s the meal plan situation by the numbers:

When examining these numbers, take into consideration that millennials spend an average of $237 dollars on groceries per month, which comes to about $2.67 per meal (assuming three meals a day). If you’re still not shocked, take into account that these numbers assume that you have no points or credits left at the end of the semester (which, I’ve never personally witnessed), and that you never spend a penny eating out.

I think that it’s clear to see: being off meal plan is the way to go. Not only are you paying less, you’re also eating food you actually want to be eating — brunch, anyone? Plus, you don’t have to feel guilty about eating out and wasting your precious credits. And for those of you worried about food availability, or your own cooking prowess, don’t worry. It is entirely possible to only eat on Thayer and still spend far, far below the amount you pay for meal plan. Take it from me, the poster child for the “I Can’t Cook ” movement.

In my freshman year, a wise senior told me that if I thought I could eat every day for less than $15 dollars, it was worth going off meal plan. So I did. And two years later, having kept compulsive records of all of my spending, I can say that I save around $300 per month being off meal plan —  and that number would be much higher if I grocery shopped/cooked for myself (maybe next year?).

As a disclaimer: I know a lot of my friends personally stayed on meal plan because it was a part of their financial aid package, and they were under the impression that cancelling their meal plan was akin to rejecting a gift for no return. This is a huge misconception! Let me walk you through the process.

Say you have no financial aid. If you cancel your meal plan, you go from paying 70k per year to paying about 65k per year (Brown will refund you ~5k). That’s pretty straightforward. Now, let’s imagine that you’re on financial aid, such that you pay $0 per year. If you go off meal plan, Brown will still send 5k to your bank account. Thus, if you end up only spending 3k of that money on food, you have an extra 2k at the end of the year that you wouldn’t have had if you were still on meal plan.

“Let them eat [Baja’s]” – Marie Antoinette, kinda.

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