The Pro’s and Con’s of Eating Off Campus

Moving off campus presents a lot of lifestyle changes, with one of the most important ones being what you eat. No longer are you living moments away from the campus dining hall, so you’ve got to fend for yourself. Here are some of the positives and negatives that come with living and eating off campus.

Pro: Variety! Order in pizza, go pick up a sandwich or make a quick pasta dinner. Living on campus can really limit your options, especially if you aren’t allowed to have a car or buy a campus meal point plan. Once you’re off, though? You’re out and about in the world, and there’s nothing to stop you from getting whatever you want, when you want it.

Con: Expensive. Costs pile up, and there’s nothing worse than tearing through an expected week’s worth of groceries in a few days. Keep in mind that even if the extra cost for delivery isn’t much, it’s something that will add up over time, just like the gas you use every night driving to places to eat. Don’t forget that grocery stores carry a wide range of priced products, so don’t get suckered into spending extra on a negligible difference. Sure, eating off campus opens up the world to you, but with that comes the responsibility to think a bit more.

Pro: Cook for yourself! Sooner or later, you have to learn how to live on your own. Buying food from the grocery store and making something yourself is usually cheaper than paying someone else to do it. Take advantage of the opportunity and learn some new skills. It’ll pay off when, instead of looking at a menu in the school cafeteria, you can look at shelves in the grocery store and make whatever you like.

Con: Put in work. Unfortunately, the food will not make itself, and while cooking can be fun, it’s not always easy. Furthermore, it takes time and preparation: it’s not as simple as just walking into the dining hall, placing an order and picking it up 5 minutes later. You may have to heat up some water or measure out ingredients. It’s not impossible to cook your own food, but recognize that instead of watching someone else make it for you, you have to make it yourself.

Pro: Be healthy! With choice and the ability to cook for yourself comes the opportunity to be much more selective with what you eat. It’s a lot easier to stop ordering chicken fingers and start making your own salads when you’re forced to feed yourself. By moving off campus, you’re the commander-in-chief of what you eat. It isn’t always easy to fit exercise in the middle of a busy college schedule, so make up for it as best you can with healthy eating.

Con: It’s easier to not be healthy. Most schools, facing general public and political pressure to start offering healthier eating alternatives to students, will try to keep food healthy to a certain extent. On your own, that pressure is gone, so if you don’t feel like cooking and want to save money, fast food can start looking pretty good. After several weeks of eating it, you might find that you don’t look so good anymore instead. It’s easy to lapse into unhealthy eating habits, so the onus becomes on you to take care of your body.

Of course, moving off campus can bring on new challenges to staying in shape, budgeting yourself, trying new foods and learning how to cook. It's important to strike a balance to foster a new lifestyle once you're away from the dorms and on your own.

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