Fueling Your Finals: A Guide to Affordable Eats

Exam season is quickly approaching, and libraries have become spaces of frantic studying that go late into the evenings. These hours spent focusing on academics can be seriously disrupted by a growling stomach that asks, “What is the cheapest, most filling meal I can find closest to the library?” Following my personal experiences and recommendations from my peers, I have compiled an (incomprehensive!) guide to our favourite meals that carry us through our study sessions. These options won’t break the bank or have you venturing far from Robarts — two things incredibly crucial at this time of year!

2 Shawarmas
Food truck outside Robarts
Price: $7.99

Photo of a shawarma food truck outdoors

Parked conveniently outside Robarts, our go-to order comes in the form of a shawarma! For under $8, you get a protein-packed wrap that's perfect for sharing with a study buddy. Plus, on those colder winter days, the hot food and short journey back to the library make for a welcomed break.

Price 10/10
Quality 7/10
Proximity to Robarts 10/10

Medium Iced Coffee + Cream Cheese Bagel
Tim Hortons
Price: $6.20

Photo outside of a Tim Hortons

This Canadian staple offers caffeine and sustenance. This iced coffee and cream cheese bagel combination comes in at a budget-friendly $6.20; however, be prepared for a potential gamble — will the bagel gods bless you with a perfectly toasted masterpiece, or will you face a solid and stale brick? Will they have cream cheese today? Will the iced coffee be watered down? All questions to consider. The long line that often forms during the day can be daunting, too, so factor in some extra time if you choose this option.

Price 8/10
Quality 4/10
Proximity to Robarts 5/10

Papa Ceo Pizza
Price: $4.99

Photo of the front of Papa Ceo Pizza

If ever you’re looking for a consistently decent pizza, a slice from Papa Ceo's for just under $5 might be the answer! This pizza option is perfect for a solo lunch or as a budget-friendly shared meal. While it is located at the edge of campus, the convenience of late-night hours (until 2 am!) makes it a favourable option at any time of day.

Price 10/10
Quality 5/10
Proximity to Robarts 7/10

Rice Bowl
Price: $9.99

Photo of Galleria Kitchen Express

The rice bowls from Galleria offer a warm meal with many different meat and fish options that satisfy every craving and many dietary restrictions. These bowls are the most expensive thing on this list at nearly $10, and may not be the most strategically located for everyone on campus. Personally, I often forget about them for that very reason! It is worth noting they do offer discounts before closing, which may make them a more budget-friendly option for those late-night study sessions. Just be aware that the portion size is not the most generous, so factor that in if you're known to have a sizable appetite during exam crunch time.

Price 6/10
Quality 10/10
Proximity to Robarts 6/10

This list definitely doesn’t encompass all the budget-friendly meals U of T and Toronto have to offer — there are plenty of on-campus choices and student discounts offered at nearby restaurants! And packing a lunch with ingredients from home and supplementing it with a snack on campus is a great way to stay sustained while studying. Eating well doesn't always have to break the bank!

– Selina