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Guide to Eating on the UC Irvine Campus

Scouring through UCI’s website for meal plan information can be a substantial task. UC Irvine provides its students with plenty of ways to learn about meal plans, but if you are like me, the abundance of sites and links seem to add to the anxiety you already feel about college, especially since every college student understands the gravity behind food. That being said, there is nothing wrong with Irvine’s meal plan platform or the people who find it easy to navigate. Just consider this article a simple and comprehensible summary from one stressed out freshman to another. Keep reading for the ultimate guide to eating on the UC Irvine campus!


The Basics

What are FlexDine Dollars?

The perfect synonym for FlexDine Dollars is a debit card. FlexDines are basically money put on a card that is used to swipe students into dining commons, eateries, and cafes all over campus. When you swipe your flex card, dollars are subtracted from your balance. You never need to stress about using up all your FlexDines because when there is a surplus, they just roll over into the next quarter.

It is important to remember however that your Dollars cannot be transferred over into the next academic year, therefore spring quarter is your perfect excuse to pig out! Additionally, some students underestimate the amount of food they think they will eat per quarter. Luckily, money can be added to your flex card and you don’t have to starve!


How are they different from Zotbucks?

FlexDines are distinguishable from Zotbucks because while both work like a debit card, FlexDines are meant to pay solely for food while Zotbucks work like FlexDines but can also be used at the student store. Unlike your FlexDines, Zotbucks can roll over from one academic year to another.


Dining Options

Residence Hall Students get to choose between three awesome meal plans including:

The Professional Cook Anteater

(100 Block meals + 75 FlexDine Dollars per quarter)

Students who choose this dining option are able to eat approximately 9 meals per meal without using their FlexDines. This may seem like a lot until we remember that the average person eats 3 meals per day! I suppose this is where the FlexDine Dollars definitely come in handy, as well as a large fridge to store the rest of the food you will need to survive the strenuous days of college living. These are the people who will learn how to cook… or eat a lot of microwavable Top Ramen.


The Average Joe Anteater

(5 Weekday All-Access Meal Plan + 75 FlexDine Dollars per quarter)

Because this meal plan is accessible Monday through Friday, students are virtually set and stress-free when it comes to their food. Over the weekends you average eater just needs to get creative and find alternative eating options such as nights out to local restaurants, taking a lovely trip to the grocery store or fasting! That last part was mostly a joke, but this meal plan option in my opinion, would best suit most students at UC Irvine because it would seem to be a perfect amount of food as well as flexibility.

The All Day, Everyday Anteater

(7 Day All-Access Meal Plan + 50 FlexDine Dollars per quarter)

This is the largest of the the three residence hall dining options at Irvine, and boy does it deliver! I would suggest this meal plan option to the anteater athletes because their work is never over just because its the weekend, the crazy food lovers, and pretty much any student afraid to feel hungry. These students never really need to learn how to cook a meal, but they do need to learn self control and that is just as important a lesson! This plan comes with an additional 50 FlexDines, but in my opinion they act more so as a safety net than a necessity. Let’s all just try not to become a statistic when it comes to that freshman fifteen (:


Which is the best meal plan to choose?

Personally, I could not possibly say which of these meal plans is best because people’s appetite, class schedule, extra curricular activities, and housing all contribute to which option is best for each student. It is a highly personal decision that should be researched and seriously considered before making a final decision.

See Also


Can I change my meal plan if I want to?

Don’t ponder over these plans too heavily however because while it is a serious decision, it is not so serious that it cannot be changed. Meal plans can be changed through online submission during the change window (late November to early December, affective in January).


Where can these meal plans be used?

Lot 5 Dining Commons (Mesa Court)

Pippin Commons (Middle Earth)

Brandywine Commons (Middle Earth)


What about students not living in Residence Halls?

Good question! Traditionally, as students progress year to year and move away from residence halls they find themselves in housing with greater kitchen accommodations. This allows students to dive into the world of culinary arts as they find themselves less interested in the strictly formatted meal plans. This is only one perspective however and many students do continue utilizing Irvine’s voluntary meal plans. While previous years it was mandatory, returning anteaters and transfers get to choose if they would like a plan or if they would like to cook all their own food, or if they want to try a mixture of both!

List of Irvine’s Finest Cafes and Eateries

Phoenix Food Court

BC’s Cavern Food Court

Cyber A Cafe


Med Ed Cafe

Cafe Med

C3 Convenience Stores


Student Center Food Court


What are some other helpful tips for eating on the UC Irvine campus? Comment below and share this article with friends!
Featured image source:
Nicole Luszczak

Nicole is an eighteen year old writer from Southern California. When not writing, she is cooking, reading, or hiking in Malibu. A freshman at the University of California, Irvine, Nicole plans on double majoring in Business Administration and Literary Journalism. One day she will be the editor in chief of Self Magazine and will live in New York City with her three mini pigs.

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