Catering or self-catering accommodation

(34 Posts)
debjud Fri 11-Apr-14 15:39:34

Does anyone have experience/views on whether a DD should go for catering or self-catering accommodation in first year? First choice is Leeds, 2nd choice Edinburgh. I am concerned that if I pay for catering, she might often not get to refectories during the times they are serving meals and will be paying to self-cater anyway (she's not v organised). But on the other hand, I do want her to eat properly, so maybe having food available is better?

Pipparivers Fri 11-Apr-14 15:45:34

Self catering! A major part of the university experience for many is becoming independent. She won't get that having school dinners served to her.

debjud Fri 11-Apr-14 15:48:55

Well yes, but it's only for the first year - she'll have to fend for herself in yrs 2 -4 (a four year course).

Goblinchild Fri 11-Apr-14 15:49:02

Self-catering. What's the point of paying for food she may not eat?
With sc, she'll shop, learn about bargains and indulgences, possibly cook with others and share meals and it will be a much better lifestyle.
Buy her a budget cookbook, write down some of her favourite recipes and send her with a set of scales and measuring spoons.

Goblinchild Fri 11-Apr-14 15:50:03

I used to send mine with a large box of useful foods and spices at the beginning of term.

Nocomet Fri 11-Apr-14 16:06:23

Self catering unless the food is at least recognisable!

My friends in halls used to describe some interesting meals.

goinggetstough Fri 11-Apr-14 17:59:54

Not trying to go against the flow here but I vote for catered. My two DCs both have done catered for the first year and have gone on to be self catered for the rest of their time at university (one is still there). They are both sporty and have managed to be there for all meals. They both found it was a social time too as they met other people in their Hall rather than restricting themselves to 6 other people in a flat. Great obviously if the flat gets on, but not if they don't.
I think it also depends on the cost difference. Some Halls only cater in the week, others do some meals at the weekend and other Halls are fully catered.

Rumplestiltskinismyname Fri 11-Apr-14 18:06:24

Somebody here who went to Edinburgh and went catered. The accommodation tended to be better as you could get an ensuite room- and the food was pretty good. Didn't really struggle to make the meal times. Only pain really was lunch as campus was a fair walk from halls- but usually got a meal deal or something in town. But you do need to factor that into your costs. This was over 10 years ago though so take everything as being old news as probably rose tinted glasses!

fussychica Fri 11-Apr-14 19:20:13

DS self catered and was fine - prepared him well for the rest of his time in flats/year abroad etc.

sashh Sat 12-Apr-14 07:42:53

Self cater, you can still go and buy ready made food in most universities.

MandMand Sat 12-Apr-14 07:52:11

Catered halls usually offer a packed lunch option which can be collected at breakfast time, if she's not likely to make it back in time for lunch. Many also offer the option to eat in other dining halls or food outlets in different parts of the campus using your meal credits, so catered halls are often more flexible than you might think.

BeckAndCall Sat 12-Apr-14 08:53:05

Another vote for catered - my eldest two both did a catered first year and it was great socially - they had a regular group to each with and it gives them some structure to the day. That said, neither of them made breakfast more than half a dozen times, but they did eat dinner every night.

Plus, even on a catered option,they'll most likely have to provide for themselves for some part of the weekend, so plenty of chance to get the experience of cooking for themselves.

creamteas Sat 12-Apr-14 09:44:22

It does depend really on how the 'catered' works. In some places, it is set times for eating and in others you get a card to use in the cafes etc whenever you want.

In the latter case, it will not add structure, be more sociable or stop them eating chips everyday grin

senua Sat 12-Apr-14 17:40:44

Plus, even on a catered option,they'll most likely have to provide for themselves for some part of the weekend, so plenty of chance to get the experience of cooking for themselves.

But you have to look at facilities. In some places, they supply little more than a kettle and a microwave.

BackforGood Sat 12-Apr-14 18:13:49

I was going to say similar to CreamTeas - Universities vary.
ds's first choice have the equivalent of £25.50 a week on a card topped up each term , and can spend that in any outlet on the campus, whenever they want, so if he missed some, he could eat his way through them on another day. Some other places we looked you have to be in your own hall of residence at the time the meal was being served and tough if you missed it (lie-in / sports fixture / meal out with friends / hoe for weekend / visiting friends elsewhere / etc) - couldn't believe places were still operating such an archaic process.
Also, where ds is, I was surprised that the catered hall only cost about £10 more than the non-catered, despite the fact they would get £25.50 worth of credit included ???
That all said, he preferred the accommodation in the self catered, and is happy to cook for himself anyway so is hoping for that.

Hobnobissupersweet Sat 12-Apr-14 18:20:07

My older two have both used self catering from the start. At the unis they are at catered halls are very expensive, you still often have to provide your own evening meals at the weekends ( on poor facilities) and both say their friends in catered halls spend a quite a bit on food on top. They both reckon they would have missed quite a few meals as well due to sports/sat morning lie ins etc.

mumeeee Sat 12-Apr-14 22:28:38

All 3 of my DDs have done self catering. DD3 is in her first year and is Dyspraxic and not organised at all. However she has managed to cook for herself and sometimes has cooked with her flatmates. I have found learning to fend for yourself is part of the experience of uni and a good thing to do in the first yea

I think catered with S/C facilities is the best option. So they can get their own breakfast when they get up at lunchtime and snacks but don't always have to cook.

I am teaching DS to cook a few more things besides his staple macaroni cheese.
I gave him a detailed recipe for spag bol and left him to it. Half an hour later I could still hear chopping and went to investigate. He was just finishing the 3rd head (not 3rd clove) of garlic grin

MillyMollyMama Tue 15-Apr-14 10:02:46

I think catered is best for the first year because it promotes a much greater breadth of friends if they have formals and means they have less to worry about in their first year. Definitely the way to go at Edinburgh! Why would she miss meals, and, if she does, does it matter? Are you actually ever going to know? Halls don't provide lunches anyway and most self respecting students would never have a packed lunch. Coffee shops are the destination of choice at lunchtime for many. Leeds is a campus university so getting to the refectory is easy, it is all on site. Where else would she go when everyone else would be there? If she wants to self cater though,let her. She will no doubt self cater in subsequent years.

BourbonBaby Fri 18-Apr-14 20:25:01

I vote catered too - DD was catered and DS wasn't. DD settled much better (for other reasons too) but as others have said it guarantees a social occasion each day and means you aren't constrained to a set group of people. Also one less thing to worry about - they will cook 2nd year on wards and for the rest of their lives!
For DD it also meant her hall had formal meals which were her highlights of uni - very boozy and lots of fun from what I have heard!

DinoSnores Sat 19-Apr-14 10:48:32

I did catered in my first year (breakfast and dinner, brunch only at weekends). It was better to meet lots of people and will give her a safety net of meals so would recommend that.

Hobnobissupersweet Sat 19-Apr-14 11:09:59

But catered students at leeds do not get fed in the main refectory milly Molly hmm. They get fed in the hall in which they are resident, which might well be bodington, 4 miles away up the massively busy otley road and they don't fancy the bus fare there and back for tea if doing something in th evening. It is quite easy to miss meals if you take advantage of uni life and join some societies. Why does it matter, because she then has to buy food in addition to food already paid for.
Charlie Mo is a catered hall on campus in Leeds and very fancy now, but eye wateringly expensive (circa £170/week!) and the students still complain the food is grim. Whereas my old ( very long time ago) stomping ground of Henry price is also on campus, self catering with large communal kitchens and eating areas and around £120/ week. The price at the catered hall is 12 meals/ week so still need to buy more food on top of that, ie no lunches provided and only brunch at the weekend.

debjud Sat 07-Jun-14 10:27:51

Thanks for all your input everyone. DD has opted for catered in the knowledge that year 2 onwards will be s/c anyway.

Bearcatt Sun 08-Jun-14 12:59:25

Another vote for catered.
Both DS's went catered for their first year.
There was the opportunity to make friends with far more people at meals (300) in a catered hall than in a small flat for 6 or 8 and who knows whether you would even get on with those people in a small flat.
There were formal dinners to go to and dress up for a few times a term.
Both DS's moved into houses with hall friends and catered for themselves in the later years of their degrees.
For their lunches in the first year they had a card where they could spend up to about £5.50 (I think) in any cafe on campus.

mumeeee Mon 09-Jun-14 09:02:50

Formal meals where you have to dress up would be DD3's worse nightmare. She made lots of friends in halls and not just the ones in her flat. She also made friends on her course and the clubs she joined. She is Dyspraxic and self catering meant she could eat when she wanted and take her time over meals.

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