Second semester has rolled around which means first year students can officially switch to the points plan! If you’ve been dreaming of the day that you can leave the dining halls behind, congratulations. The idea of budgeting your points can be daunting for some, but fear not! We have come up with some tips that got us through the semester by using a comfortable amount of points AND without starving during the last 3 weeks of school.
My first piece of advice is save money on drinks by carrying water with you. You’ll be surprised at how quickly all those sodas, teas and energy drinks add up. And besides, Nalgenes are trendy at UVM anyway! Secondly, limit larger food purchases (Brennan’s, New World Tortilla and Waterman Manor) to about one-two times a week. The food may taste better at these places, but treating those dining experiences as an occasion rather than a routine will help keep your budget in check. Lastly, it may go without saying, but it’s much easier said than done: only buy food that you need! Points spent on excess junks and snacks can take up room in your budget that you’ll need for healthy meals. This practice can also help improve your eating habits! A win-win!
When I was on points, I would buy a quart of Green Mountain Creamery yogurt, a couple bananas, and a box of granola from the Marché that could make me breakfasts for a week. Rather than buying a breakfast sandwich or a prepared meal every day, I could stretch my points a little farther by eating at least one meal a day in my room. Also, check to see if you’re staying on track with your budget with the cards at every Sodexo register which tell you how many points you should have each week of the semester if you want to spread them out evenly. Lastly, don’t waste those “meal blocks” that you can use at the dining halls. It may not seem super appealing at first, but schedule a long afternoon homework sesh at Harris-Millis or Redstone and squeeze lunch AND dinner out of the deal…
When I lived on campus, I was a pro at saving points. I would make sure to have some type of breakfast food in my room, doing that I would already save around 5 points of my daily 12 point allowance. I would treat myself to Skinny Pancake or Brennan’s at most once a week or for brunch on the weekend (uni-meals have gotten me through a lot, even off campus.) If I bought snacks throughout the day, I would buy an apple or some type of fresh fruit because 1. it’s healthier and 2. it is actually cheaper than a bag of chips, or a small container of cheese, grapes and crackers. I also invested in a coffee machine so I didn’t spend 6 points at Henderson’s every day. Finally and most importantly, no late-night trips to the Marche. I cured any late-night munchies I had by having healthy snacks accessible in my room so I didn’t feel the need to make a trip to the Marche.
Buy big, non perishable things like cereal at a super market so you don’t blow through points on 6$ cereals. You can buy milk at the market that fit in dorm fridges
It is a better value to go with the unlimited 100 point meal plan, then add the 200 extra points, than go with the unlimited 325 point plan.
To sum it up:
Drink water from a reusable water bottle instead of spending money on drinks
Make buying nice meals (New World, Brennan’s, Skinny Pancake…) a special occasion, not a routine
Avoid snacking, or if you do snack, get cheaper and healthier things like fruit and veg
Try to eat at least one meal a day at home (breakfast is easiest), with groceries from the Redstone Market or the Marché
Make coffee or tea in your dorm or in a dorm kitchen instead of buying it
Use the cards at the Sodexo registers to track how many points you should have left at the end of every week
Don’t forget about your meal blocks, and maybe even squeeze two meals out of one with them!