To meal plan or not to meal plan?

There are a variety of lunch options all through NYU

Whether you’re a fan of Weinstein Chick-Fil-A, Kimmel pasta, Hayden cookies or all three, you can probably agree that NYU offers a wide variety of lunchtime meals. However, when faced with the allure of a cheaper bursar bill and appetizing local restaurants, it is not surprising that some students question if NYU meal plans are actually the best lunch option.

Some students opt to pursue alternatives to NYU’s meal plans. CAS sophomore Alex Mitter brings lunch to campus as a cheap alternative to purchasing a meal plan. Mitter currently spends $25 a week on groceries at Trader Joe’s. During these weekly shopping trips, she invests in plenty of pasta, as well as ingredients for making salads and wraps. Most of the food Mitter purchases can be eaten cold and still tastes delicious, even if made the night before.

Despite the fact she’s saving money, Mitter admits being without a meal plan is less convenient because she has to pack her lunch and plan out meals in advance.

“You also lose the social aspect because you don’t always eat in a dining hall,” Mitter said.

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Steinhardt junior Malerie Thiel combats the socializing issue by using Campus Cash when eating in dining halls with friends. There is no minimum amount of Campus Cash that students must purchase, so it’s less of a commitment than a meal plan. Plus, many restaurants around Washington Square Park accept Campus Cash, meaning that students can sample a variety of restaurants. For Thiel, favorites include Fresh & Co., Just Salad and Chipotle.

Chipotle was a decisive factor in Tisch sophomore Dylan Malburg’s decision to end his meal plan, in fact. After taking time to calculate the price of an average on-campus lunch, he discovered he typically spends around $12, which is less than the cost of each meal swipe on his plan.

“Once I found out a Chipotle meal was about the same price as an NYU meal, the decision wasn’t difficult to make,” Malburg said.

CAS sophomore Dana Martinez doesn’t entirely agree with Malburg’s logic.

“I don’t think it’s that concrete,” she says. “Every meal you have for lunch is not going to be the same price.”

For Martinez, the meal plan acts as stress-relief. Instead of spending time thinking about where she should eat lunch and how much money she should spend, Martinez can head to a dining hall between classes and easily get food. Martinez says the dining halls have plenty of delicious meals to choose from — particularly Kimmel, her favorite place to eat on campus.

“You can get pasta, sandwiches, Asian food, Mexican,” Martinez said. “It’s all really good, I’ll probably still have a meal plan next year.”

NYU has a ton of great dining options, both inside the dining halls and around the square. In the end, the decision to purchase a meal plan or not comes down to your personal budget, schedule and eating habits.

A version of this article appeared in the Sept. 14 print edition. Email Natalie Hansford at [email protected]

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