By: Ariel Kahan  | 

No Caf Daddy, No Problem: Tips and Advice for The YU Cafeteria

What you see a person buy in the Caf during the last two weeks of the spring semester is often very telling about their personalities and lifestyle. For example, if you see someone with $1,200 during finals, you can reasonably conclude that this person goes home after breakfast on Thursday and comes back after minyan on Monday morning. Perhaps their mom sends them lunch every day as well. On the other hand, if you see someone begging others for a swipe even before Pesach, they likely had a hard time avoiding Poke Bowls and Teriyaki Thursday.

Below are tips and advice for those people in the middle, who seek to enjoy their meals while making cost-efficient purchases. In other words, get the biggest bang for their buck. 

Before entering the Caf/Nagels, one should always think about whether there is an opportunity for free food elsewhere. For example, if you look on the hefker table any time between purim and pesach, it is likely you will find a good snack that can save you the $4 you were going to spend at Nagels. It also may contain boxes of cold pizza from Como which really hits the spot if you’re in the mood. 

For those who are more “germ conscious” (read: refined), there are ways to be smart in the Caf as well. Feel free to try any of the following ideas:

The Challah Roll/Hummus combo - for under $15 dollars, you can buy a six-pack of challah rolls (which can last you 2-3 meals) as well as hummus to dip it in (2 meals). This combo allows for one to spend the price of one meal for the amount of calories and flavor that could last for two.

On the topic of Challah rolls, this trick can also be utilized for a nice fleishig meal with the challah roll-deli combo. Again, for around 15$ dollars, one can buy a six pack of challah rolls as well as a full pack of turkey and pastrami and make many sandwiches for lunch or dinner. In fact, one may consider splitting the cost of challah rolls with a friend (each person can eat three).

While dinner is hard to manipulate, there are a few things that one can do at lunch that can help ensure a full stomach for low prices.

A slice of pizza accompanied by a container of soup is an $8 lunch that is both delicious and economic. The soup tends to be filling and nutritious, and with a slice of pizza, it feels like a full meal.

A cheese pretzel is also certainly cheap and filling. While I will not speak to the health benefits of such a choice, it is certainly delicious and gives one enough calories to survive the afternoon. 

On this note, a bagel and some sort of spread (cream cheese, butter, jelly) also contains many calories for a very low price. However, if one wants to maximize what they can get out of a bagel (and FLEX money), I highly recommend a bagel with melted cheese and a few toppings from Grandmas. For $7, one can get a large bagel with melted cheese and two toppings (I recommend eggplant and banana peppers). This combo of crunch and calories can satisfy one for the rest of the day, and is a great use of FLEX money. 

In addition to finding good ways to spend money, it is just as valuable to recognize the dumb wastes of a tight budget. For example, purchasing water bottles in the Caf can add up in a significant way. If one bought a $3 bottle of water in the Caf every day five days a week for a semester (around 15 weeks), they could spend over $200 on water for the semester, which is over an eighth of the money on the lowest meal plan. Instead, one should consider a trip to Target where they can buy a 32 pack for 8.99, which comes out to 28 cents a bottle. If one carries around one of those bottles every day, they will not lose money in silly ways.

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Photo Caption: YU Cafeteria

Photo Credit: Ariel Kahan