There are plenty of dining hall hacks that saved me when I was a student. Learning these hacks made being at college much easier. If you know someone who could use these helpful hints, share this article so everyone can check out how to save money, use your resources, and make college feel like home.

10 dining hall hacks for students:

1. Check the Schedule 

dining hall hacks: check the schedule

The dining hall will have a schedule of meals for the week. Download the meal plan or look it up online to see what they are planning for the week. That way, you are always in the loop and you can get to the dining hall early before they run out. This can often happen if the dining hall serves a special like “Taco Tuesday” that is popular among your fellow classmates. Make sure you familiarize yourself with the weekly menu, so you know when you might want dinner on campus.

2. Seasoning 

Sometimes dining hall flavors aren’t always the best. It’s helpful to check out the seasonings they have available. Sometimes, there is a special station for toppings or seasonings, so you can add your preferred flavors. Or, if they don’t have that, a dining hall hack is to keep some in your dorm room in case you are not feeling one of the meals. Some special seasonings you can keep include hot sauce, garlic salt, or Old Bay. These seasonings can take the vegetables or even rice to the next level. They even make mini sizes of spices that you can keep in your room for takeout meals.

3. Snacks 

When you go to the dining hall, there might be snacks available whether it be bananas, chips, granola bars, cereal etc. We suggest grabbing things for later. After all, you will never know when you might get hungry or can’t make it to breakfast one morning because you are running late. It is best to grab what you can while at the dining hall because you will never know when you will have an unexpected bad day. You’re also paying for the food, so this is a convenient and financial dining hall hack.

Check Out: How to Make Candied Grapes

4. Tupperware Trick 

dining hall hacks: tupperware trick

The tupperware trick is the ultimate dining hall hack. This is a hack for you if you have a microwave and mini fridge in your dorm. Some cafeterias have strict policies and don’t allow food to leave the dining hall. Make sure you scope the area first to ensure you won’t get in trouble. You can get a pack of tupperware at the dollar store or even online at When you are about to head to the dining hall, put your tupperware container in a bag. Then, at your next meal, add any extra food to your tupperware and pack it up for later. Now, you have leftovers that you can eat whenever you might need them.

5. Keep track of your meal swipes 

Keep track of the number of meal swipes you use because you don’t want to go to the dining hall and find out you’re out of swipes. Let’s say you have 14 meals per week which mean two meals for seven days. If you are a breakfast person, you can do breakfast and dinner and have snacks for lunch. That way, your meal swipes won’t be wasted. If you end up running late and skip out on breakfast, then you can use the meal swipe for lunch. Make sure you use your meal swipe no matter what. If they don’t have what you like, then I recommend getting the sides or a snack so that you don’t waste the money or a meal.

6. Use swipes for other food on campus 

Some colleges have fast food or restaurants on campus and they may allow you to use a meal swipe. It will come in handy if you can’t get to the dining hall and there happens to be a fast-food place on campus instead. I would ask what type of meal you can get with a meal swipe, so that you know what’s included. You want to ensure you get the most out of your meal plan money, so using these swipes at on-campus restaurants prevents you from wasting them.

7. Microwave and Mini Fridge 

Sometimes, college dorm rooms come with a microwave and mini fridge. However, if not, we recommend buying each of these. It can cost you upfront, but the amount of money it will save you in terms of leftovers and you can always split costs with your roommate. A mini fridge will help you keep anything from the dining hall or other restaurants for a cheap meal later on. You will then need to reheat certain meals, so you need a microwave to do so. Not only that, but a microwave can help you have hot coffee or tea in your dorm without needing to waste a meal swipe.

Also Read: The Top 5 Student Saver Apps

8.  Dining Hall Hours 

Keep the dining hall hours on you to know when they will open and close. Memorize the time for breakfast, lunch, and dinner schedule, so that you never have to go hungry. A good dining hall hack is to keep the hours on your phone in the notes section. You also want to make sure that you don’t miss the lunch window on a day where you have an important exam.

9.  Try new things 

An important part of college is trying new things. It doesn’t hurt to try a new food or recipe when you’re in the dining hall. You might surprise yourself and enjoy the meal that is being served. I know it can be hard to be away from home, especially because you’re not used to eating in this way. However, it’s important to find meals that make you feel at home in your college environment.


Meal swipes tend not to roll over once the semester is over. I can’t state this enough, but you really need to use your meal swipes. If you don’t, then that is the money going down the drain. When you’re sick of the dining hall, try something special like breakfast for dinner or build your own rice bowl. Try to get creative, so that you’re not eating the same meals over and over again. This will keep you going back and ensure you don’t waste a swipe before finals.

Check Out: Super Student Snacking

Give it a try and find new hacks

Try these dining hall hacks out and you might even find some new ones along the way. We’d love to hear your thoughts. These tips were a game changer for me in college. It can be tough to find time to eat good meals in between classes, activities, and homework. However, you must make the time to fuel your body and make the most out of your meal plan and bank account. These dining hall hacks can make your time as a student easier.