Your school’s dining hall is something you don’t appreciate until you lose your meal plan. It’s all “this is terrible salmon” until, as a Senior, you realize: it’s all the salmon you can eat.

As a soon-to-be-graduate, I recently toured my school’s dining hall on a friends swipe and what I saw was nothing short of incredible. Follow my dining hall advice and take the most out of your meal-plan, lest you end up a Senior, staring at the desert bar, wondering what could have been.

1. Menus

Many schools, mine included, have menus of their meals up for that day. I never used to check them when I had large meal plans- I’d just walk in when I was hungry, after all- but that was my first mistake.

Check the menus and compare the lunch and dinners. If one looks better than the other, take that one. Easy stuff. But you can plan in advance too. If the dinner menu looks bad, and you’ll just end up getting pizza later, eat a big lunch and just concede to the late night food later. You’ll save yourself a swipe and the frustration of trying to eat some orange slop.

2. Eat Healthy

That’s not a health-motivated concern, fully. It’s just logic.

The food you can most easily get outside of your dining hall—your late night options especially—are unhealthy. Things such as fruit and vegetables are harder to get and cooking a healthy meal can be time-consuming, so it makes sense to eat healthy at your dining hall. Forget the dining hall pizza and ice-cream: you can spend a few bucks for better ice-cream and pizza, no problem. But getting and cooking broccoli is much more difficult and, like it or not, is necessary for your survival. Get it.

3. Timing

Go during off-rush hours with a laptop and stay for two hours and eat two meals for one swipe. If you’re afraid of looking like you have no friends and like you’re a weirdo who needs four bowls of cereal, don’t fret: no one cares, and since you’re going during off-hours, the chance of running into Sophie while you’re face is covered in burrito-fillings is next to none. It’s a win-win, really.

4. Souvenirs

I’m not telling you to take anything from your dining hall, but consider all the wonderful souvenirs the dining hall has to offer: bananas and oranges for your backpack, a sandwich wrapped up for later, or even a cup. Just saying.

5. An Excuse

Ultimately the best part of a dining hall is an excuse. If you see someone you want to talk to, you can just say hi. Similarly, you can go out to dinner with a bunch of friends without worrying about credit cards, transportation, or Dwayne getting car-sick. You can study there or hang there or, depending on your meal-plan status, duck in for a free (and terrible) cup of coffee. Use your dining hall as a social hub as well as a grocery store and restaurant because it’ll be gone before you know it. And trust me—trust me—it beats cooking.