Eating at FUS: Crunching the Numbers!

"One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well" -Adeline Virginia Woolf, English Writer. 

As of September 2020, this company provides food to FUS' dining services.

Welcome back or welcome to Adventures at Franklin! Eating is a huge part of our lives, but ironically, very little has been written about eating at FUS in the 7-year history of Adventures at Franklin. This changes today! In this post, I tackle eating at FUS, and crunch all the numbers (pun intended) regarding price/cost. 

Where we eat: 
At FUS, we eat either in the Grotto (located on Kalestch Campus), or the Dining Hall (Located on North Campus). In the past, Grotto had longer opening hours but that has changed this year as the Dining Hall has extended hours.

What we eat: 
We eat from a weekly menu (or as I like to call it "what's on display"), and a set menu. 
  • What's on display or the weekly menu is released at the start of the week, and usually consists of a salad bar/fruit/soup, some type of meat, some type of carbs (i.e. pasta, rice, potatoes), and some type of vegtables. The menu is pretty different each day, but sometimes some food might be repeated (i.e. Chicken is on display for Monday, Wednesdays and Fridays).
  • The set menu is there for the whole academic year, but the menu will changes from year to year. Here is the menu (as of September 2020) to provide a rough idea of the options available!

The process:

  • If you want what's on display, you can have 3 different portion sizes you can get.  
    • Full portions cost 13 CHF, half portions are 10 CHF, and side portions are 4.50 CHF. 
    • Full portions give you the chance to get whatever is on display i.e. soup/salad/fruit, veggies, some type of carb (like rice, pasta, or potatoes), and some type of meat. You don't have to get everything because it's a good amount of food, but paying the full portion allows you to get everything.
    • Half portions usually consist of the full portion minus the fruit/salad/soup, and minus the meat. Half portions are also known as the vegetarian option in some cases. Sometimes they will give you more of the veggie and carb to make up for the lack of meat on your plate. In my experience, I've found that half portions are still a good amount of food. 
    • Side portions are basically that, just a side. That might mean a side of fries, a side of risotto, a side of pasta, a side of veggies etc. I usually get side portions when I'm not too hungry, but I want to eat something because I have class coming up and won't be able to eat until after the class. 
  • If you want to order from the set menu, then it is pretty straightforward. Each item has its own cost, just go to the counter and order away! 
  • PRO TIP: To go boxes cost 1 CHF, so if you want to save money (and be sustainable!), BRING YOUR OWN TUPPERWARE. 1 CHF might not sound like a lot, but it adds up overtime if you keep getting to go boxes. Check out more details and other ways to save money in my post here :)
    • First year students are usually required to get the largest meal plan (1600 CHF per semester). Second year students usually get the second largest plan (500 CHF per semester). Third and Fourth year students do not have to get any meal plan, but they can purchase one if they wish. 
So now comes the part that involves simple mathematics. I have neglected to do the math for Sophomore meal plans (500 CHF), so that this post does not get too long.  
For freshman meal plans (1600 CHF per semester)
A semester is usually 17 weeks, but subtract 2 weeks for Academic Travel, which means there are 15 weeks (A.K.A. 105 days) where students can use their meal plan. However, each semester is different. For example, Fall 2020's Academic Travel only 1 week long in comparison to the usual 9-10 days, so the prediction below will definitely vary depending on the year, but the prediction will provide insight into how to manage a meal plan. 

To figure out how much money you should spend per day, simply take the amount on the meal plan (in this case 1600 CHF), and divide it by the number of days in a semester (let's say 105 in this case). 
  • 1600/105=15.23 CHF per day. 
Point 1: That sum is not a lot when you think about it, and let me prove it. 
  • Scenario 1: Imagine you eat 3 full portions everyday, then your total daily cost is 39 CHF. In fact, I have done the math and if you eat 3 full portion meals everyday, you will run out of money on your meal plan by day 42, which is not even half the semester. This is how I got that figure.
    • 13 CHF (cost of full portion) x 3 (meals per day)= 39 CHF (daily spending)
    • 1600 CHF (value of meal plan) / 39 (daily spending) = 41.02
  • Scenario 2: The full portion is a good amount of food, so let's say you only get 2 full portions everyday. Well you would still run out of money on your meal plan by day 62. Here is my math.
    • 13 CHF (cost of full portion) x 2 (meals per day)= 26 CHF (daily spending)
    • 1600 CHF (value of meal plan) / 26 (daily spending) = 61.54
  • Scenario 3: But let's say you travel every weekend and only eat 2 full portion meals per day. You won't have to order from your meal plan on the weekend, but you would still run out of money on your meal plan by day 87. Here is my math.
    • 13 CHF (cost of full portion) x 2 (meals per day)= 26 CHF (daily spending)
    • 26 (daily spending) x 5 (days when you buy food) = 130 CHF (weekly spending)
    • 1600 CHF (value of meal plan) / 130 (weekly spending) = 12.31 weeks
    • Convert 12.31 to days by multiplying by 7, 12.31x7= 86.17 
Point 2: Here is a pro tip, buy half portions and side portions! They save you a lot of money. Here is an example. Say you ate twice a day, and bought 1 side portion and 1 half portion with your meal plan of 1600 CHF. Well you would run out of money on DAY 111! That is well past the end of the semester. 
  • 4.50 CHF (price of side portion) + 10 CHF (price of half portion)= 14.50 CHF (Daily spending)
  • 1600 (meal plan value) / 14.50 CHF (daily spending) =110.34
Final Point: Obviously you do not have to use your meal plan everyday. You can order food from outside the university. You can cook and/or eat with friends. You can also order from the menu where items have their own price. It is up to you as to how you want to spend your meal plan money. I've done the math to illustrate a rough idea as to how much on average you should spend. A rough estimate I heard in the past was to eat 10 meals per week with your meal plan on average if you have the 1600 meal plan, and that is a fair enough estimate because it really does depend on your own situation.
I always tried to refrain from using my meal plan too much in the first few weeks, and then splurge during midterms week because I wanted to spend time studying and not cooking. I entered travel with around half or just over half of what I started with. Academic Travel is more or less the halfway point in the semester, so it usually good to enter the travel break with around 800 CHF if you are on a 1600 CHF meal plan. Then after travel I would also not spend too much, but then splurge again once finals hit. I enjoyed this tactic a lot πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚
However, I hope this post provides some insight into eating at FUS. My meal plans always lasted until the end of the semester, but that was because I budgeted and saved money where I could. Some days I wouldn't use my meal plan but would cook instead. Some days I would only buy half portions/side portions. So I think it is certainly possible to survive on a 1600 CHF meal plan for the whole semester, but don't be dumb and buy the full portion if you eat every meal everyday at the Grotto or Dining Hall. One of my roommates from my freshman year did that and he ran out of money before Academic Travel πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚ You can put more money on your meal plan, but if you manage your money well enough, there is no need to! 

I really enjoyed writing this post, and I actually wanted to dive into even more numbers but I figured I would leave it for now. Last note: I plan to write a post every week, and publish it on the weekend. Having said that, see you in the next post, where I recap the first 3 weeks of the very extraordinary and unique semester ;) 

A presto,


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