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Save Money Dining at MSU

by Katherine Tasheff

The end of November and beginning of December are crunch time; professors are assigning term papers, pairing you up for final projects and announcing the last tests and quizzes before final exams. Just as we are reaching our semester breaking points, so are our bank accounts and our once fat stashes of Flex and Red Hawk Dollars. We’re out of time and money and for those vegetarians on campus, finding something quick and cheap to eat can be especially hard. But fear not, hungry and broke herbivores and meatless-Monday observers; as a vegetarian on-campus diner, I have some quick fixes and tips to help you survive those days when you can’t find the time or funds to pack a brown bag or run to Chipotle inbetween classes.

Einstein Brothers Bagels:

We all know that carb-packed bagels are not the healthiest choice to eat every day, but I like to pick one up from this College Hall eatery ever so often. Einstein’s is the definitive bagel location on campus because of its variety. There are many different kinds of bagels and spreads available, including seasonal flavors. My favorite topping is a hummus “schmear.” This option allows you to pack some protein on your bagel rather than the popular cream cheese, which, while delicious, is packed with fat that you don’t need since you’re already having a treat by eating a bagel. The hummus schmear is one of the tastiest bites on campus and fulfills the daily protein quota with which every vegetarian is familiar.

Au Bon Pain at Café Diem:

Although this relatively new dining location on campus has tons of vegetarian options, not all of them are as friendly to your wallet or your arteries. When I walk in, I tend to go straight for the comfort food: macaroni and cheese and the sweet pastries. These more indulgent foods are especially tempting because they are relatively low in price and provide the satisfaction we need when we are stressed out. Next time, walk past these options and instead try grabbing an egg white, cheddar and avocado on a bagel thin for breakfast or late lunch. This meal will provide you with some protein to get you through the day at a comparably low cost which is much more reasonable than some of the lunch sandwiches and salads that sell for twice the price.

Student Center Cafeteria:

In general, the food at the student center cafeteria is a bit pricier than some of the other locations on campus, but you can still find a good deal if you’re looking for it. The cafeteria provides fixed meal swipe combos for those students with block-style meal plans, which can look like a great deal in comparison to the prices of food that are not part of a combo. Though, when it comes to filling your belly on the lowest possible funds, go for the vegetable sushi. The cafeteria provides cucumber, avocado and combination rolls with white or brown rice. They are always a good pack to grab on the go and usually sell for less than five dollars, which saves you over a dollar from going for a fixed combo.

Shawarma Spot:

I almost don’t want to mention the Shawarma truck because it seems to be a hidden gem of on-campus dining and telling you about it may compromise the accessibility of delicious and cheap Mediterranean food, but it’s too good not to share, for both vegetarians and meat-eaters alike. The truck is tucked away behind the Student Center, right next to Red Hawk Diner and it is remarkably delicious. For such a small location, the truck has many vegetarian options, including a falafel platter, salad and sandwich as well as a hummus sandwich. The portions here are huge and the prices are pretty much all under five dollars. The best part is that there is hardly ever a line of more than five people here, so it’s a perfect low-price fix for days when you’re on-the-go but want a substantial lunch that will provide both protein and satisfaction.

Shawarma Food Truck

Shawarma Spot Food Truck

Drinks and Sweet Treats:

When it comes to drinks, your best bet is to bring your own. I usually bring coffee or tea with me in the morning, since you can buy a whole box of instant bags at the grocery stores for the same price as one or two drinks at most cafes on campus. I also suggest bringing a refillable water bottle so you can save your pennies and the environment at the same time. Bring some Crystal Light packs if you want to add a little pep to your H20. Drinking water will keep you hydrated for your long day ahead and help you avoid pesky headaches from dehydration.

If you do want to get something sweet, the best deal by far is Red Hawk Yogurt in Outtakes. Although the name claims that it is frozen yogurt, it tastes like soft serve ice cream. The price is not by weight like most other self-service style yogurt places, so you can really pack on whatever you want to reward yourself for all your hard work. This sweet treat may be dangerous, but in moderation it can save you money from going making a mad dash to Cups or Cold Stone Creamery after class.

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