All Posts

Here’s what students are spending most of their money on (Spoiler alert: It’s food!)

Campus dining halls ain’t what they used to be. Long gone are the days of standing in line for trays of beige, oily, unappetizing food. Colleges have really upped their food game, offering metric-tons of high-quality options.

The downside is that this also translates into higher meal-plan prices. In fact, the average college student who eats on campus pays about 85 percent more than they would if they ate their meals at home. This is just one of the many reasons why 48 percent of students do not have a meal plan.

Contrary to popular belief, students are NOT broke. In fact, when we surveyed college students to ask them what they spent their money on, 78 percent said that the number-one thing they shell out money for (once tuition and bills are paid) is… food! Indeed, up to half of them responded that they spent up to a whopping $20 per order.

Want to learn more about how restaurants can cater to Gen Z? Download our free  report to get all the answers.

The reality is that Gen Z students are simply savvier than previous generations about how they spend. So, for many, skipping exorbitant cafeteria meal plans in favor of sourcing their own food is a no-brainer.

When it comes to food Gen Z students will splurge on, they are making their spending decisions differently than have generations past. For example, Gen Zers are looking for high-quality and healthy ingredients (think organic, protein-rich meals). They’re also looking for dining experiences, not just meals (hello, #foodporn). Plus, they prefer to be spontaneous, planning only 5 percent of their meals in advance.

This presents a HUGE opportunity for quick-service restaurants. But to capitalize on this opportunity, you have to know how to get Gen Z students in the door.

If you’re struggling with how to do this, you’re in luck. Alex Mooney, UNiDAYS’ Director of Innovation for Food and Dining, has cooked up some excellent tips on how to get Gen Z to the table. Check them out below:  


Want more food for thought? Take our insights to go by
downloading our restaurant report: How Restaurants Can Cater to Gen Z.

Jacqi Levy
Jacqi Levy
Senior Manager, B2B Content Strategy @ UNiDAYS

Free Resource:

Gen Z Insights: What Restaurants Need to Know

With new attitudes toward how to spend and what to eat, Gen Zs are transforming the way restaurants interact with consumers. Find out everything you need to know in this report.

GZI _What Restaurants Need To Know Cover

Recent Posts

Why pop-up stores are turning up on Gen Z’s radar

Pop-up stores transform shopping into an experience that gets Gen Zs talking (and buying). Plus, temporary spaces create a sense of urgency to visit now—or suffer some serious FOMO.

Purchasing as commitment: How brand values matter to Gen Z

When it comes to the future, Gen Z is hopeful but uncertain. In part two of our series on Gen Z and the future, we explore how Gen Z’s outlook plays a key role in their purchasing decisions—and what this means for brands.

What does the future hold for Generation Z?

Gen Zs have mixed feelings when it comes to what lies ahead—both for themselves and the world. We explore what this means for brands in a two-part series.