Obligatory Boston clam chowder photo

One of the most commonly asked questions we get at Launch is regarding the lack of a meal plan.  Unfortunately, the dormitory dining halls are closed during the summer. While many students ask about how much to budget for meals, it’s difficult for us to provide a recommendation since it’s very dependent on the student (and their appetite).  Not having a meal plan, though, also means that there is a lot of flexibility the offers great culinary experiences.  One of our former Launchies, Sunny, is here to share some of her adventurous explorations.  Rest assured, though, there are lots of options at the MIT student center and Sloan cafeteria for those who prefer to stay on campus.

Hi, my name is Sunny and I attended Launch in 2015. Launch was one of the best experiences of my life, and my tastebuds would agree. As a self-proclaimed foodie, the culinary adventures that Boston has to offer trumps any meal plan. I want to share with you nostalgic Launchies and prospective Launchies some of my favorites and some reasons why it’s beneficial to not have a meal plan. (Beware of photos of excessively delicious food. Caution to readers on an empty stomach.)

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, especially when you will be challenging yourself in class all morning.  A few of my favorite spots include Clover, Rebecca’s Cafe, Flour, Cosi and Au Bon Pain. These cafes/restaurants are all found around Kendall square near your classes. I highly recommend Clover’s breakfast sandwich or popover, and Cosi’s breakfast wraps. Plus, there is a Starbucks nearby if you want your dose of caffeine.


Chilled borscht soup from Flour

Lunch will be provided at Launch during the week this year, though I was happy to explore when it was not provided during my summer.  I would sometimes cross the bridge to Boston or eat near campus in Cambridge. There is a Cheesecake Factory nearby if you have a sweet tooth and Tatte Bakery is delicious. All their food is super photogenic too! (definitely Instagram worthy.) Sebastian’s Cafe has decent pasta and sandwiches, and you have to try the Clover sandwiches and Tatte’s cheesecake. There are a few food trucks in the Kendall Square area, including an Americanized Asian food truck with delicious $5 BBQ tofu combos. It’s a lifesaver if you’re watching your wallet.


Tatte Bakery’s berry cheesecake and hazelnut dessert- yum!

I often went into Boston for dinner, though Cambridge has some good spots, especially around Harvard Square. Bertucci’s has good pizza, Mary Chung’s is good for Chinese. Life Alive blows your mind with healthy food. If you go into Boston: Pourhouse has very affordable American food; Boston Chowda Co. has sourdough bowls; Pizzeria Regina has awesome pizza.

life alive

Life Alive has incredibly nutritious smoothies and rice bowls.

When I had to work and the dorm was too busy, I liked to get work done at Flour. Everything there is good, but the sticky bun is out of this world. There are a lot of cafes around Central and Kendall square for getting work done if you don’t mind a bit of a walk.

coffee shop

Coffee shops are for crunch time.

On weekends, be sure to have brunch. I loved visiting Cafe Luna and Friendly Toast. You can’t deny that eggs benedicts, omelettes, and pancakes are better than any cafeteria food. Chinatown has delicious and affordable dim sum, so be sure to get a group of friends and indulge! If you don’t want to get out of bed, you can also Grub Hub Otto’s Pizza.

dim sum

Dim sum in Chinatown — go with as many people as possible to try everything on the menu!

Be sure not to let your parents know how much ice cream you can eat at Launch. Toscanini’s and JP Licks have the best ice cream in Boston. If you are feeling fancy, go to Paris Baguette for their massive shaved ice sundaes. Also, Max Brenner’s is a chocolate lover’s dream. You can realize your childhood dream of having chocolate fondue for dinner.


Max Brenner’s fondue for two.

If you are coming from the West Coast or abroad, you must have Shake Shack. It is the quintessential American experience.

Burger and ice cream from Shake Shack in Harvard Square

If you aren’t hungry by now, you should be.  Of course, to maintain a healthy diet, you should eat fruits and veggies and exercise. I usually ran along the Charles River in the morning, and my friends liked going to the gym. I usually opt for salad instead of fries at the restaurant and eat a fruit parfait when I can. You can also get some vitamins from smoothies and fruit cups from Star Market. (Star Market is a very affordable grocery store that is only a 5 minutes walk from Simmons. You can get all sorts of dairy and produce there.)


The morning sunrise is pretty spectacular. This was definitely worth the run.

Looking back on everything, deciding on my own “meal plan” certainly helped develop my autonomy. Beneath all the freedom of choice, there is an underlying responsibility to take care of myself by treating my body to the right foods. I believe that the opportunities to bond with my team over meals and collaborate with other Launchies in cafes are incredibly constructive towards the development of my company. Furthermore, it is an opportunity to practice personal financing. Although Boston is not known for having a low cost of living, good budgeting allowed me to enjoy all the delicious meals and adventures without breaking the bank.

Perhaps you may be still uncomfortable at the notion of not having a meal plan, and that is okay. Rest assured that everything will work out fine, if not better than you expected. After all, all of us Launch alumni are now thinking:  How could we have ever wanted a meal plan?