Yesenia Jones | Staff Writer

As a college student, finding ways to get quality food for cheap has become one of my favorite hobbies. On a campus like NC State, food is plentiful, but not all of it is good and not all of it is economical. During my time here, I’ve developed a few tricks to eating on campus that have allowed me to find options that are satisfying and cost effective. Here are my tricks that should help you, whether or not you have a meal plan.

First, dining halls are your best option for getting a well-balanced, nutritional meal on a meal plan. While eating in dining halls, you can eat as much as you want all for one meal swipe. Places like Los Lobos and the Atrium only allow you to spend up to a certain amount of money for each swipe, often resulting in having to pay out of pocket with cash or using your dining dollars. In the mornings, you can’t even get a smoothie bowl at Smoothie U without paying out of pocket. In my opinion, the best dining hall to eat at is Case Dining Hall. They always have delicious and nutritious options. However, Case is not open to the general student body for dinner, so make sure that you get there during breakfast or lunch.

Second, if you’re a huge fan of Chick-fil-A, take the time to travel to the Cameron Village location if you can and skip out on the one in the Atrium. The Chick-fil-A in the Atrium is more expensive than your average Chick-fil-A location, and you’ll most likely have to pay out of pocket to get a whole meal. Taking the extra time to go to the Cameron Village location allows you to save your dining dollars and maximize your meal plan.

Third, if you’re on a meal plan, use one swipe during each allotted time period. By doing this, you’re ensuring that you’ll use up all of your meal swipes and get your money’s worth by the end of the year and that you’ll never go hungry. For example, if you’re not hungry enough for a full meal, you can use meal swipes to buy snacks at Starbucks and stash them in your dorm room for late night studying sessions.

Fourth, try the bacon, egg and cheese sandwich at Port City Java. It’s a delicious breakfast option and it normally doesn’t take a long time if you’re in a rush. Also, many people don’t know that you can get the sandwich on an artisan roll or any bagel of your choosing. Switching out the usual English muffin for the bagel makes a huge difference and can add some variety to your morning routine.

Fifth, Smoothie U will allow you customize your own smoothie bowl with a set number of options. Most people stick with the berry acai bowl or the mango coconut bowl and are unaware of the fact that you can create a variety of bowls with the ingredients provided.

Sixth, if you are in a rush or have little time between classes, your best bet is to use the Tapingo app. It allows you to order your meal ahead of time so you can avoid long lines during rush hours. Tapingo also allows you to pay using a meal swipe or a credit card.

The Seventh and last tip is to try the sweet potato waffle at Tuffy’s Diner for a deliciously sweet breakfast treat. They drizzle it with caramel and nuts, and it’s the perfect way to treat yourself before a big exam or on a Friday morning after a long week.

As you explore campus, you’ll learn your favorite places to eat and the best ways to eat on campus. I hope that these tips help you get a head start!