Four ways to make the best of dining cash

Stephen Acevedo

Freshmen living in dorms for the first time might think $1,600 in Dine In Dollars and $200 in Bevo Bucks sounds like more than enough to get through the year. However, between overpriced turkey burgers at Littlefield and weekend runs to Jester City Market, students find themselves blowing through their dining funds by Thanksgiving break. In order to prevent this from happening, The Texan has put together a list of tips to help students get the best out of their campus meal plan this year. 

1. Stick with J2 and Kinsolving 

It’s no secret that all-you-can-eat buffets have gained a subpar reputation over the years, but try not to let that deter you from taking advantage of the best deals you’ll find on UT’s campus. For only five bucks at these two spots, students can stuff their bellies with generous servings of Thai, Indian, Italian and countless other types of cuisine. The folks in charge of curating the menus do a great job of keeping the options interesting day after day. J2 even keeps its breakfast station running all day, so you can eat breakfast for dinner every day if you’re one of those people. Despite what anyone may swear by, the quality of the food at J2 and Kinsolving really is just as good as Jester City Limits or Cypress Bend, and neither place will charge you two bucks for every side you order. 

2. Ask About Eco2Go 

If you are adamantly opposed to eating buffet-style or just prefer the a la carte experience at places like Jester City Limits or Littlefield Cafe, there are still ways to save money. Over the past couple of years, UT dining halls have introduced Eco2Go. This system allows students to purchase an Eco2Go coin that can be used to replace the dining halls’ paper plates with a plastic containers. Not only does the plastic container allow students to conveniently eat where they want, but it also gives them a five percent discount when they go to pay for their meals. It’s worth mentioning that the servers tend to serve larger portions in the reusable containers than on the paper plates, though they’ll probably never admit it.

3. Avoid Dorm Starbucks  

Once classes are in full swing and homework loads start piling, there is always a crowd of students congregated around Jester Java, which serves much-loved Starbucks coffee. As convenient as a Starbucks on campus may be for compulsive coffee drinkers, I highly recommend not squandering Dine In Dollars and Bevo Bucks there. A better option would be to take advantage of one of the very few things students are actually allowed to keep in their dorms and buy a personal coffee maker. Whether you use a fancy Keurig or basic coffee pot from Walmart, making your own daily coffee is a far more economical option than stopping at Jester Java twice a day, an act which can quickly break the bank. Even if you treat yourself to Starbucks from time to time, the key is to not make an expensive daily habit out of it.

4. Spend Bevo Bucks Off Campus 

Unlike Dine In Dollars, which are only good for on-campus use, Bevo Bucks are accepted by quite a large number of local restaurants. For that reason, you should try not to spend your Bevo Bucks at the on-campus restaurants or convenience stores and use them instead to explore the impressive selection of great eateries Austin has to offer. Saving them up will be far more enjoyable than tearing through all 200 Bevo Bucks on a string of drunken late-night Wendy’s runs, although there’s no shame in that either.