Sick of campus food?

Tired of heating up ramen and grabbing Taco Bell?

The Flatiron Meal Plan offers a flexible way for University of Colorado students to eat at various off-campus restaurants with a prepaid meal card -- which can even be used at certain grocery stores and Laundromats.

Locations

Flatiron Meal Plan is accepted at Sprouts Farmers Market, Sunflower Farmers Market, Whole Foods, Art Cleaners and dozens of Boulder-area restaurants. For a full list, visit flatironmealplan.com .

Meal plan options

Although users of the Flatiron Meal Plan can pay for any amount of meals, the company does offer some set plans with certain numbers of meals:

The 18 Plan: "The Starving Student," $1,890

The 14 Plan: "2 Squares a Day," $1,470

The 10 Plan: "Most Popular," $1,050

The 7 Plan: "The Average Joe," $735

The 5 Plan: "The Weekend Diner," $525

The 3 Plan: "The Supplemental," $315

Source: flatironmealplan.com

"I never have any food," sophomore Alex Girard said. "This card is cool because I can even use it at the grocery store. But I mainly love it to get deliveries. My parents just fill it up when I get low and so many places accept it."

Students can sign up -- online, by phone or at the office -- and put money into the account, then pick up their photo ID card at the meal plan's office, 1310 College Ave, Suite 475.

"We make it really easy to track online," co-owner Alex Woodbury said. "Students can get a user name and password, they can give that info to their parents and they can reload the card whenever it's getting low."

The system even offers e-mail alerts for when the balance drops below $30, he said.

Woodbury said a major advantage of the card is that it gives parents a peace of mind.

"They can put $500 worth of money on the card and they will have security knowing that the money will only be spent on food," Woodbury said. "If they give $500 cash to their kid, they will have no control of where the money is being spent."

Woodbury said having a card offers students many benefits and savings opportunities. The plan always features a restaurant of the week, where cardholders can save 25 percent off their meal, plus many back-to-school half-off promotions, he said.

"When I was a freshman and sophomore, I never tried any of the Boulder restaurants because I didn't really have the money to," senior Molly Baker said. "When I found out about this thing, I asked my mom if she could help me with some food money. It's good for her because she knows I can only use it for food.

"And it's good for me because I can eat."

Woodbury said if students become a fan of the Flatiron Meal Plan on Facebook, they will promote "Random Acts of Kindness" such as "meet us at Salvaggio's between noon and 12:45 and we'll buy you lunch."

As opposed to CU's meal plans, Woodbury said the balance on the card carries over to the next semester, which means no money lost for meals you never ate.

"You pay only for what you eat," Woodbury said. "It's an easy way to budget the student's food money. Plus, probably half of the merchants offer delivery and the students can even tip the delivery person with the card out of the account. That is a huge convenience."

New members pay a one-time enrollment fee of $10, which will be deducted from the account when created.

There are meal plan options listed on the Web site -- from 18 meals to three meals per week -- but Woodbury said this is just a basis for parents and students to figure out how many meals (based on $7.50 per meal) a student will need.

"If they get the 10-meal plan, they aren't restricted to using it 10 times a week, it's just a framework."

There is one restriction on the card -- alcohol is prohibited. This is a good selling point to parents, said Woodbury.