More Money, Less Problems

Fourth Estate/ Billy Ferguson

How to spend less on food


If you are what you eat, Mason students would be Dunkin iced coffees, Chipotle burrito bowls, Ike’s late-night breakfasts and groceries from Walmart or Giant. 

At least, the ones who can afford regular meals would be. The Hope Center for College, Community and Justice has found that the amount of food insecurity students face can vary widely, from 19 to 65 percent. Any students who face this issue also have to deal with the side effects of poor nutrition. The New York Times reported that these include “poverty naps,” where students sleep rather than deal with their hunger, dreaming of food and delirium from hunger.

Food can be expensive even for the students who can afford it. When there are several excellent dining options on campus, as well as in the surrounding area, it can be easy to watch your bank account drop as your stomach fills. Here are some ways to prevent that from happening at Mason this year.

Mason has many different restaurants, but there’s probably only a few that will become your favorites. Pay attention to the establishments that fall under this category. These restaurants are the ones where you will know the menu backwards and forwards. Going to eat at the same place multiple times a week might allow you to know it has specific deals at specific times — information you wouldn’t have otherwise. 

Once you know your campus favorites, you can find out what the best deals are. This can come from a discount, a coupon or even just by buying the cheapest option on the menu. For $5, you can buy two breakfast croissants from Dunkin. At Red Hot and Blue, half of their meals are $5 or $7. You can buy bagels from Panera Bread and Einstein Bros. Bagels for around $2. Buying the cheapest, most filling meals you can find will keep you, your stomach and your wallet happy. 

On-campus students can also eat in one of the dining halls: Southside, Ike’s or The Globe. Depending on your meal plan, it might be the dining option you use the most this year. Each hall has set prices for each meal. Southside is open late during the week, while Ike’s is open 24/7.

Each dining hall has its strengths and weaknesses. The Globe has been said to have the best dining hall food, but can be hard to get to. Ike’s is convenient, but often only has one real meal option other than cereal, fruit and other generic choices late at night. 

Knowing what you like and what you don’t like will help prevent wasting your swipes and spending your time eating food you don’t like. You can also try Simply to Go, which is swipe-based and allows students to grab simple meals on the go.

If you live off campus or have a kitchen, shopping for groceries might replace eating on campus. Wherever you shop, chances are there are some great deals to be found. Always take advantage of them. Even though a cheap can of soup or canned vegetables may not look like much, they can make all the difference in a pinch.