Making meal points stretch to last the semester

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When you come into a new semester, it can be confusing figuring out how to make your meal points last you the whole time. You’re given a lump sum of points and very little direction about how much you should be using them, what they really represent and where you can use them to buy things. Don’t worry — we at the Clog compiled a list of tricks and tips you can use to make sure your meal points last you all semester.

Types of meal plans

The first thing you need to do is to go onto the “My Finances” page of CalCentral to learn what type of meal plan you’ve registered for. Each different meal plan has a various amount of meal points allocated to it. Some meal plans allow for unlimited “swipes” a day (at a buffet style dining hall) but only provide 1,000 meal points (to be used at GBC, Bear Market, etc.) for the semester. It’s important to understand if your meal plan is based on points or swipes to make sure you don’t overuse points. For example, if your meal plan allows for unlimited swipes at the dining hall each day, try to use those frequently for breakfast, lunch and dinner, as you will see that meal points on things like snacks and coffee on campus can deplete quickly.

Try to avoid the daily Peet’s Coffee & Tea run

Yes, we know that Peet’s is delicious, but it’s important to remember that if you buy coffee from there every day you’ll breeze through your meal points quickly. If you’re planning on eating a full meal, going to the dining hall will often hold the most value for you because all of the dining commons have coffee and tea available as part of your swipe. Often, one coffee alone can cost upwards of $4.00 (four points), while swiping into Crossroads (where you can get a full meal for the price) is only six points for breakfast.

Pat Brown’s Grill is not your friend

Yes, Pat Brown’s Grill has many healthy and delicious options, but the prices in meal points are very high. An average lunch at Pat Brown’s Grill can be around $12, as opposed to a lunch at a dining commons, which is only seven meal points. Those four points everyday will really make a difference when it comes to the last few weeks of school.

Save points for swipes, not dollar-valued foods (Golden Bear Cafe, Pat Brown’s Grill, the Den)

Try and use meal points on swipes because you can always use your regular debit card for dollar-valued foods. This concept is a little confusing, but food at the dining hall has different prices allocated to it based on whether or not you are using meal points. For example, a swipe at Crossroads for breakfast is only six meal points but is $10 in cash. Alternatively, something at GBC that’s $6.50 is 6.5 meal points. So basically, if you’re going to spend your actual money on anything, do so on dollar-valued foods and supplies instead of at the dining halls.

Check the chart

The Cal Dining plan provides a chart that helps you stay on track with the amount of meal points you’re supposed to have at every point in the semester. As long as you keep up with the amount of points suggested for part of the semester, you won’t be scavenging for extra meal points during RRR week.

Contact Allison David at [email protected].