At the University Housing dining locations, what can I figure on for an average meal price, including drink, etc.?
Also, how expensive are the other grocery-type items (snacks, etc.) that are sold at the Housing dining locations? How much do people in the dorms tend to have to shop at other places (Fresh Market, etc.)?
I'm an incoming freshman and I stocked up on a whole bunch of food from an area grocery store (Woodman's - they've got a few around southern Wisconsin, and two in Madison). Stuff like oats, macaroni and cheese, ramen, granola bars, cereal, etc., is easy to keep in your dorm and cost much less than the dining halls - and it's more convenient! You'll have to buy perishables such as milk and produce at FMM, but if you buy a lot of non-perishables before you arrive, you can make a pretty good dent in the food budget.
Res Halls has good food with no minimum purchase required- excellent for those who wouldn't eat as much as others. Those who prefer breakfast in their rooms have the supplied refrigerator as well. Transporting son and friends back to campus always included a car full of clean laundry and food from every parent. Much Gatorade/bottled water, carb snacks for runners. When parents come to visit a trip to a Madison Woodmans is in order- they have the best selection and prices. Otherwise it is a walk to the closer stores. With a lot of restaurants available on State St and others near campus you will need to plan a dining out budget that fits your finances.
I thought that for a large institution UW-Madison's residence hall foodservice was excellent. Many choices, running the gamut from ethnic to healthy to teenager 'junk food', something for everybody, with every item documented on the UW website for its nutritional content. D2 lived in the dorms freshman year, without a car, and was trying to eat healthy & had no problem. Granted, the a la carte buy-as-you-need deal rather than a meal plan worked better for her, and she supplemented that with frequent trips to the ethnic carts & restaurants on State St., which provided nutritious, low-cost meals.
And she was also able to utilize the Madison bus system to purchase goodies from the Dane County Farmer's Market (on summer Saturdays--in fact, heading there this morning!) and great spots like the Willy St. Co-op and Jennifer St. Market.
Just a wonderful set of food options in Madison, especially for the adventurous.
The housing meal plan consists of money put in your food service account. System around forever (back in my day- early '70's- we had to purchase so many tickets for one of 3 different meal plans with the same pay per item deal). You are subsidizing the dining facilities with your dorm charges but you pay the 60% less (or they pay that much more) than the public for the food. Your receipt will tell you how much money you have left in your account- check every so often so you don't run out and have to pay more using cash or the other account on your UW ID.
Warning- be sure to deposit/have parents deposit (they make it easy to do online) money in your food account before you hit campus. You can always go to Slichter Hall to make deposits in person (Res Halls offices in the basement- separate front entrance) during business hours. Using a credit card online incurs a charge- $2? If you use the other part of your student ID funds or pay cash you will pay the full price the public pays. Res Halls recommends starting with $300. At the end of the year leftover money will be refunded or if less than $20 transferred to your UW funds (these carry over until you are no longer a student). When parents visit remember to have them let you use your food service account at Res Halls facilities to save money.
The Res Halls food service account (also used for laundry) is separate from your other UW account. It will not be accepted at either Union or other places on campus food can be purchased- you can use cash or the other account like all students there. btw- your UW account is also accessed with your student ID (never lose track of it!) and can also be used at some nonUW places near campus- including University Bookstore. See the UW website for details.
Wish computers were past their developmental infancy in my day... PS- just read the referenced site info- it's the Wiscard that is also your student ID.