See that? Aside from being a terrible mugshot, it’s also my golden ticket to not starving all semester. Ah, the good ol’ meal plan. Instead of having to constantly be cooking to feed yourself you can just swipe that bad boy and get some pizza or a melt from Doc’s or any number of foods from the cafe. It’s a nice luxury to have. But what happens when you run out of those handy meal swipes? That can become a pretty serious issue late in the semester.

Some of you have been there before. For those who haven’t, it goes like this: You swipe in at the cafe and look at the little screen only to see “10 meals left.” The countdown begins. You start trying to think rationally. “Ok, 10 meals. A month of school left. So 30 days. 10 meals in 30 days. I just have to only eat  one meal every 3rd day and I’ll make it last.” Then you’re like “Maybe  I just won’t eat on weekends. Then that gives me extra weekday meals.” Eventually you just settle on starvation.

Just kidding. You do know that you are going to have to find some other way to feed yourself soon because lets be real, you’re averaging 2-3 swipes a day. What’s your first line of defense? Easy. Find that friend (or acquaintance if need be) who has way too many extra swipes. There’s always somebody who’s giving them out like candy because they have 50 extras. Plus nearly everyone has a bunch of guest swipes left at the end of the semester. However, this can be problematic and inconvenient because that other person has to be there every time you eat. You’d better really like that person.

If not, you can get by on the other part of your ID: your GU gold. Depending on how judicious you were with it, you hopefully have a nice little stockpile left. You can just outright pay for meals instead which actually gives you the flexibility to choose options outside of the approved combinations that go with a meal. You can always use that gold at the Knight Club. (They have pizza now. It’s pretty good.)

If a combination of those two can’t get you through the amount of time you have left, you may have to actually prepare your own food. Obviously that’s going to be less convenient and there may be times when you can’t run back to your dorm for food. This is going to require some planning on your part. Either hold out on eating until after class or find yourself some foods you can pack to eat throughout the day. I know packed lunches are sooooo high school, but you gotta do what you gotta do.

Also, do not buy only snacks. I know that this seems like something nobody should have to be told. But I know me, and I’m assuming there are others like me who, when tasked with buying food will come back with a cart load of snacks and nothing with any nutritional value.

Relying on friendship is key  in these scenarios. Order pizzas with friends. Have more group meals. Use that meal plan you’ve run dry as an excuse to socialize and feed yourselves in the process.  People are generally pretty cool, so if you’re like “I have no swipes left anyone wanna split on some takeout with me?” you’ll probably get some takers.  So treat yo’self.

Really, the point here is, that while you may rely on your meal plan for the majority of the semester, life without it can be handled without too much of an issue. You need some friends to be clutch and spot you as well as be able to buy enough food to keep you satisfied past that. So don’t panic when you see realize that you’re getting down to the bottom of the barrel on your meal plan, because life goes on. Meal plans come and go, but awful ID pictures are forever. Wait, I’m being told those CAN be changed. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to see a man about a mugshot. But don’t worry. You’ll be fine.