Explore these snack options after moving in

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The Daily Illini File Photo

Packaged salads lie in the Ikenberry Dining Hall on Oct. 20. There are many options for new students to grab a bite to eat once on campus.

By Aidan Finn, Staff Writer

We love to envision a grand, energetic college lifestyle ahead of us when moving to campus. All the wonderful amenities and activities from gyms to clubs, the beautiful campus sprawl and the neighboring city – a great environment full of life and stimulating culture. Alas, such gilded envisionment of college life is so innocent and optimistic.

The truth will emerge, however, in the darkest, most desperate of times. When it is 10 p.m. on a Wednesday before a midterm, when your retinas have been thoroughly burned to a crisp studying GEO 118: Natural Disasters for the last dozen or so hours. You look out your window at the six-pack, the Ikenberry Dining Hall closed for the night and your closet supply of microwavable Kraft Mac & Cheese exhausted. You, in those fleeting moments, uncover the desperation and horror that unfolds countlessly amongst campus students, for generations before and unborn. 

You finally accept your temptations and determine the direst course of action is required for your survival – it is time to go to the store and buy junk food. 

The reality is for students, as proactive and dedicated as one may be to an organized and a healthy lifestyle, in the late or even early hours of the day, a snack attack is unavoidable. The independence and freedom alluded to by living on campus give way to the desperation to get Mega stuf Oreos at 11 p.m. It only becomes progressively worse as you continue your college journey and is a fact of life amongst fraternities. 

With such, you must know the real truth. The tips and tricks needed to get the right snacks, at the right price, at the right time. This is a task far grander than one entering would expect. Not even the most intellectually capable students and faculty may be knowable in the best course of action, as it is not just a journey made in correlation to one’s taste but one’s soul – a reflection of one’s primordial standing, their tested existence in society, also on what meal plan they are signed up for. This leads to the first point:

The 12/15 plan is the plan.

The University requires a meal plan to be purchased while living in student housing, and there are lots of options in terms of volume available.

  • 12 Classic Meals/15 Dining Dollars per week 
  • 10 Classic Meals/45 Dining Dollars per week 
  • All Classic Meals (dine up to seven times per day, up to 47 meals per week)
  • All Dining Dollars (130 per week) 

Now, despite any preconceptions one may have about what would suit them best, let it be adamantly clear that all such ideas are wrong. The 12 Classic Meals/15 Dining Dollars plan is scientifically the best plan available. It is the proper balance of meals acquirable from the dining hall and space to get snacks in the intervals in between meals. Too much to either side is not only wasteful but economically unviable.

You are never going to realistically need more than 12 meals. This is not a result of the concrete fact that college students do not eat breakfast but that you will not realistically eat a meal every day. The convenience of snacks and the solely-crushing accumulation of all-nighter study sessions makes the societal expectation of three meals a day impossible unless you are responsible, but that is not a requirement. 

Green Street 

Alas, the dining hall’s meals are set to an interval menu, and out of the only experience from the 2020-2021 year, such a menu will consist of pasta, pizza, pasta and bow-tie pasta. (A low blow given many dining operations were diluted due to pandemic setbacks, but no promises for the coming year.)

In truth, you must venture forth into the greater C-U area, a land with a welcoming, relaxing environment reminiscent of Fallout 4. You, like many students, will gravitate toward the center of the University’s external dining, Green Street, the hub of local and chain restaurants for all tastes and preferences. A great environment for experimentation and exploration of new foods and revelations of how horrid Walgreens pricing truly is. In practice, any snack hunting conducted on such grounds is best suited for the newly constructed Target, a pocket dimension on 603 E. Green St. that transports shoppers to a magical world of gentrified consumerism and cheap Cheddar & Sour-cream Ruffles. A realm that allows escape to the familiar, cozy environment of the same Target near your home, a place that truly unites us all in our mega-corporate admiration. And Ruffles. 

The 57 North 

With the said 12/15 meal plan, you are given $15 for snacks at various retail locations. More specifically the 57 North convenience store in the Ikenberry Center, as there is no other store with such convenience-store convenience. Nearly all snacks imaginable available just 15 feet from the library study section is as disturbingly nifty as it gets. A great place to make shameful late-night runs for Xtreme Goldfish, as well as try out new and guaranteed disgusting microwavable foods! 

All in all, there is no true guide for how to get the best snacks while living on campus. In fact, this whole list is completely stupid and pointless. Let it not be overlooked, however, that your quest will be full of horror and treachery, and in such suffering, you will take pause and learn a very valuable lesson. That, as hard as it may be, it is always cheaper than Uber Eats. Turning to that is the truest admittance of defeat.

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