As students leave their homes and start their journey through college, one of the many skills leanered along the way is cooking. Many students still rely on the cafeteria to provide, but a few try to do things on their own.
When senior Olivia Keneipp was a sophomore, she decided that she wanted to have more control over her dietary habits. For Keneipp, the quality of the food wasn’t as primary of a reason as was the lifestyle involved in having to eat somewhere that isn’t her home.
Keneipp described that being off board has allowed her to stick to a diet that is more preferable to her, which consists of mostly vegetables. She noted that, while her aid was reduced after going off board, it ultimately saved money that would normally be used for the meal plan.
“It lets me eat a lot more of the food I actually want to eat,” she said. “I’d much rather spend $8 on food that I like than food that I don’t.”
Keneipp also mentioned that not having to constrict her dietary schedule to the hours of the caf has been both a benefit and a detriment to her overall diet. While she is able to eat at times that work better with her schedule, the lack of time constraints makes it harder for her to resist the temptation to eat more than she thinks she should throughout the day.
She also noted that not having to rely on the caf for meals has relieved a lot of mental pressure. She noted that knowing exactly what she is putting into her body and no longer having the need to convince someone to eat in the caf with her has been beneficial to her overall well being.
“It does double duty for me,” Keneipp said. “It’s a stress reliever and something that is a necessity, which makes it a lot easier to say that I have time for it.”
Keneipp expressed that going off-board might not be ideal for students who aren’t able or willing to put a considerable amount of time and effort into the food they prepare for themselves.
This is the case for junior Maureen Lincke, who has considered going back on board due to lack of time for food preparation. Despite this, she recognizes some of the drawbacks of having a meal plan. One of those drawbacks was excess food.
“The fact that it was all super accessible, like easy food to get, made me just grab a ton of food instead of working to make my food.”
This tendency to eat unhealthily and the lack of limitations on the amount of food eaten resulted in Lincke’s decision to go off-board for this year. Since going off-board, she described that she eats in more frequent but smaller meals, and does not eat a lot of meat.
For Lincke, the drawback to being off-board is that it takes a lot more time to prepare and eat quality meals, which is difficult to juggle with her already busy lifestyle.
“At college, it’s like you’re never in one place for more than an hour and a half, so you’re constantly walking,” she said. “And to have to be going to all these different places and, on top of that, spending more than two hours at home to make a meal for yourself is really hard.”
For junior Sofia Tagkaloglou, the added pressure to find someone to eat with in the Caf was also one of the contributing factors that led her to go off board. However, decision was primarily based upon her involvement in cross country, and the lack of protein available to vegetarians in the Caf.
She said that foods such as lentils and beans that are high in protein are commonly consumed in her culture, and she had prior experience in cooking meals that are high in protein, which helped smooth her transition into being off board.
While she makes a conscious effort to find the best deals when shopping for food, Tagkaloglou is more concerned with making sure the food she purchases and eats is healthy and of good quality.
“I think food is one area where I’m willing to splurge a little bit because I really value what I put into my body,” she said. “You’re more conscious of what you’re going to put into your body because you have to go out and purchase it as opposed to it just being there for you.”
Tagkalogou expressed that going off board has saved her a significant amount of money that she would instead be using to pay for a meal plan, and has provided her a segue into her life after college, where she will be forced to prepare her own food.
“Whoever you are, you’re going to have to learn to make your own food,” she said. “That’s your sustenance. I don’t feel like that’s something you can outsource to somebody else at all times.”
Senior Emma Kirk is not completely off board, but is instead on a commuter meal plan that gives her 50 meal swipes per term. Because she lives off campus, Kirk did not want to rely on walking on and off campus for meals, but still wanted the convenience of being able to go to the Caf if she were unable or unprepared to cook for herself.
Kirk describes that being off board is not only cheaper than having a meal plan, but she is also able to buy more of her prefered food instead of relying on what might be in the Caf. Kirk also noted that the amount of food she wastes decreased significantly now that she eats more of the food she knows she likes and is able to make.
“There’s definitely something satisfying about taking control of your food and being involved in the process of making it,” she said.