Monday, May 2, 2011

Eating in Oxford, as a college kid

Coleman Smith

Ole Miss students living off-campus who receive a monthly check from their parents, quickly discover how important it is to incorporate their food budget for the month.

This may sound strange to freshman students living off food meals and flex money and also to non-traditional students who may live on their own or with their family. But for all you students who scrap meals at the end of the month, mooch bites of your buddy’s sandwich, and have mastered the dollar menu this article will relate to you.

There are four ways a student may pay for food around Oxford. They are: flex and meal plans for on-campus stores, express for off-campus stores, and finally old fashioned money. Flex and meal plans are crucial freshman year. Mainly because you are living in the dorms and hot meals are in walking distance from your bed. Ole Miss offers a variety of on campus stores. They have hot fast food joints such as Chik-Fil-A and Subway, fancy coffee shops like Starbucks, healthy stores such as Bleeker Street, and for students living in Martin, Stockard, or Crosby can walk downstairs to the C Store located in their lobbies All of these stores along with the many others on campus are convenient not only because of their location but also because they have meals ready to serve fast. Because of this their quality lessens hence getting the name “campus food” or “union food.” Justin Ray, a Journalism Major, says, “After I burned up all my flex money on union food, I could tell my stomach was relieved.”

Express money may seem meaningless to some parents but for those students who receive Express know how Express is quite crucial when it comes to managing their spending money. There are only certain stores who take Express and certain gas stations who take express, when it comes to tobacco. Restaurants who take Express include, Abners, Newks, Huddle House, Backyard Burger, KFC, Chilis, Dominos, McCalisters, New Hunan, Panini, Pizza Hut, Smoothie King, Zaxbys, and Proud Larrys. Express is convenient when it comes to managing your spending money, but also can turn into a hassle when you want to spend that part of your allowance at the bar.

Finally we are down to the cold hard cash section. Oxford like many other unique small towns has a divided variety of restaurants. Restaurants range from cheap low-end food to expensive quality food at high-end restaurants. There are not too many restaurants that meet in the middle pricewise. It may seem tactical to eat cheap meals every day in order to budget your bank account, but after doing the math it proves otherwise. Eating 2 to 3 fast food meals is at least $15 and mulitiply that by 7 for the week ends up being a hefty $105, then add that by 4 for the month and it is a staggering $420. Geology major Payton Mann said, “I got to a fast food place like Wendys or McDonalds and can confidently call myself a master of the dollar menu.” Now not all people can go a month solely on fast food unless you’re Morgan Spurlock from Super Size Me, but many students cannot recount their fast food visits for the week. Yes there are restaurants that can be categorized as moderately priced. Freshman undecided undergrad Patrick Herms said, “It’s my first year here and I can’t really think of many restaurants besides the ones on the square.” Obvious restaurants such as Chilis, Oby’s, and Applebees; these restaurants hover the borderline in terms of quality of low-end restaurants and price range of high-end restaurants. The best way to go out is relative to the best way to go out, chase the deals and seek out the best bang for your buck.

There are many restaurants in Oxford that are both delicious and relatively cheap. It may take time to find these restaurants but after eating a meal your taste buds and wallet will never forget. For instance if you want some fresh mouthwatering meat you can go to LBs located off Jackson Ave. Lunch hours begin at 10a.m. and go through 2p.m. during which time items such as hand-formed Black Angus beef burgers are offered up alongside sandwiches stuffed with smoked brisket, smoked sausage, Philly cheesesteak, or pulled pork. Or if you want some fresh authentic Mexican Tacos for around $1.50 a piece you can go to the taco shop right behind Oby’s. Crispy cat fish along with homemade potatoes can be served at Handy Andy’s off N Lamar. And if you want something similar to Big Bad Breakfast and don’t have the wallet for such expense then The Beacon off Jackson Ave will suite your needs. Those restaurants along with several others will satisfy your stomach along with keeping your food budget intact. But the best way to manage your food budget at the beginning of each month is to learn how to cook and how to shop at your local grocery store.

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