Why go

The opportunity to be self-sufficient. "I like the idea of being (a little more) self-sufficient and cooking my own meals." (Sam Borchard)

Cost. "It's cheaper." (Sam Borchard) "I spent about $2500 on food for the year. However, it is possible to spend less than this because I ate out at restaurants a couple times a week. I'd say I spent about $80 per week on food for a total of 30 weeks." (Zaafir Kherani) "Besides possibly eating better, in all likelihood I would save thousands of dollars by going independent, and the difference between being a member or friend of members at an eating club didn't seem to be worth that much." (Ryan Irwin)

More options for vegetarians and vegans. "As a vegetarian, I will probably eat better as an independent than I would in a club." (Sam Borchard)

Health/Quality of Food. "It's easier to eat more local/organic food." (Sam Borchard)

Housing. "The rooms are pretty sweet." (Sam Borchard)

Lack of Interest in Clubs. "I chose to go independent because I do not feel like I would get anything out of being in an eating club, since I don't drink." (Josephine Walker)

Love of Cooking. "I also enjoy cooking and I'm excited to have my own kitchen and cook." (Josephine Walker)

Proximity. "[N]ot having to walk all the way to the Street to eat" is an incentive. (Jonathan Giuffrida)

Flexibility. "Going independent gave me flexibility to eat when and where I want." (Zaafir Kherani)

"For me, being independent was the right combination of flexibility and affordability. I enjoy cooking, and my schedule is unpredictable enough that the dining hours in an eating club wouldn't have worked well for me. I think being independent is great, and I love that I can eat what I want when I want it.” (Anonymous Independent Student)

“It's fun cooking with my roommates and being able to eat whatever I want, whenever. Spelman apartments are also really nice and the living room area is a good place to work and hang out. If you live in Spelman, you should probably either have a car or a carshare (through Enterprise) or have a transportation plan because otherwise you won't have access to any produce or cheaper groceries.” (Mallika Viswanath ‘17)

Why stay
in the d-halls?

“I knew from the beginning that bickering an eating club was out of the question, as I do not feel I belong in such self-described "exclusive" communities. I considered joining Terrace for two days, but realized the spring dues of about $900 would be roughly the cost of purchasing a plane ticket, so I canceled my membership and stuck with the meal plan almost entirely covered by Princeton's general financial aid package . I'm so glad that I decided to stay on the meal plan and a part of Mathey's residential college community.” (Anonymous Res College Student)

Why join
a co-op?

"I joined Brown in order to have a nice laid-back social environment to supplement some additional meals." (Raleigh Martin)

“I've enjoyed it tremendously and recommend it to all my underclassman friends. The feeling of community is real. Being in a coop and cooking for yourself and taking on responsibility prepares you for real life.” (Terry O’Shea ’16)

“My Princeton experience has totally transformed being a part of 2D. The independence, home-cooked meals, and inclusive community have absolutely made my senior year better.” (Azza Cohen '16)

What do you
wish you had

It can be hard to find housing. "Before I went independent, I wish I had known that Spelman would fill up this year, and that it would be much more difficult than I expected to find a place to live with a few friends to create an informal dinner group. I don't know if it's just the shortage of housing this year, but my friends and I have been badly split up and I may have to cook for myself a lot more often than I expected, which means a lot more time out of my schedule." (Jonathan Giuffrida)


Think through your decision. "Be sure that you would still go independent even if it means getting stuck in a double or single, and having to provide all your own meals. It's nice to choose what you eat and save money, but it's a lot of time." (Jonathan Giuffrida)

"Join a co-op! It has all the great aspects of independence (cheapness, home-cooked food) but also great convenience (a warm meal every night!)." (Raleigh Martin)

"Get a car or bring one from home. It is much more convenient to get groceries and other supplies that you will need if you're independent when you have a car. Taking the bus or finding rides with other people will soon get frustrating." (Zaafir Kherani)

Email odus@princeton.edu if you have any questions about independent life or if you would like to submit new independent perspectives.