Food for thought: cheap campus eats for CSUN students

Darko Debogovic

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Panda Express is one of the most popular restaurants on campus, offering a wide variety of Chinese food. File Photo / Daily Sundial

Panda Express is one of the most popular restaurants on campus, offering a wide variety of Chinese food. File Photo / Daily Sundial

Ah, if only food were free. Imagine going restaurant to restaurant, eating what you want when you want without the fear of failing to make rent or depleting your bank account. Unfortunately, a utopia like this doesn’t exist yet. Food isn’t free and we do have to worry.

Eating out can drain funds quickly, and as students watching how much our meals cost is essential when trying to cut back on spending. Of course the most effective way of saving money is not eating out, but if you do find yourself needing to purchase food on-the-go here are some cheap take-out alternatives available here on campus:

1. Located just inside the bookstore complex are two healthier fast-food establishments: Panda Express and El Pollo Loco. Although fast-food isn’t the healthiest dining option, it sure is cheap. Panda Express offers a wide range of assorted meats and vegetables that can be combined in a delicious, economic $5.59 panda bowl. El Pollo Loco provides their own version, the pollo bowl, which comes with grilled chicken, rice, beans and pico de gallo salsa, at a reasonable $5 price.

2. The Pub Sports Grill, on East University Drive (right across from the G4 parking structure) has everything from burgers and pizza to wraps and salads. Try their plain burger which comes with lettuce, tomato, onion and Thousand Island dressing for just $2.89 ($3.39 with cheese). If you’re looking for a quick snack to share with some friends over a ball game, get the $6.45 sampler platter. It includes Buffalo wings, chicken strips and cheesy mozzarella sticks (add fries for only a dollar more).

3. Tucked away behind the Oviatt Library sits a small convenience store called the Arbor Grill. Don’t fall victim to the snacks and drinks on display, the word “grill” is emphasized here for a reason. The matador burger is a favorite among students and comes with their signature stuffed patty, American cheese, roasted red peppers, garlic, aoli, lettuce and tomato, all served on a crostini bun for just $5.55. If you’re looking for a hearty meal in the morning, try their breakfast burrito priced at $3. (Breakfast is served Mon.-Fri. from 7 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.) The burrito includes eggs, potatoes, cheese and mouth-watering salsa.

4. Looking for variety? Then look no further than the Marketplace at the Sierra Complex. Located at the corner of Prairie Street and Etiwanda Avenue, (across from the B3 parking structure) students can find anything from pizzas and wraps to soups and salads. Checkers Deli has a number of premium wraps, guaranteed to satisfy tastebuds and put hunger on hold. Try their Santa Barbara wrap, priced at $5.99, served with chicken, provolone cheese, southwestern sauce, tomato, lettuce and bacon. If you’re craving something light, the Bamboo Terrace is the place to go. Regulars recommend the chicken fun noodle soup that comes with rice noodles and chicken, served in a chicken broth for just $5.99.

5. Although there’s no such thing as a free lunch, CSUN does provide viable dining options guaranteed to save some cash. Students can purchase a Matamoney dining card which saves 10 percent on every purchase inside the university, making it a great gift for students, faculty and staff. Coffee lovers should take advantage of the Freudian Sip’s loyalty card which gets you a free drink after the tenth purchase. The Freudian Sip also offers a happy hour (applicable to all campus locations) every Wednesday from 4 to 5:30 p.m. Students who use their Matamoney dining card during happy hour receive an additional 10 percent off.

We may not be able to eat free on campus, but with careful planning and judicious research we can save some money and satisfy our on campus cravings.