If you live in a dorm as a freshman, which is required for non-commuters, you are more or less required to purchase a meal plan. Students' opinions vary on the quality and selection of food, but most are satisfied with what UT has offered. When you have had your fill of cafeteria food, there are many fast food options. One thing is for certain, you will gain a whole new appreciation for your mother's cooking that you had taken for granted so many years. You will clean your plate, and possibly the rest of the family's plates, during each visit.
Since you will be stuck with the UT Dining Services meal plan, why not make the most of it? The key is to read and understand the meal plan rules. Keep track of your bonus bucks, and eat during allotted dining hours. If you know you are going to need something, such as snacks, and have room to pack them, stock up as much as possible! Finally, remember that bonus bucks do not roll over. If you have $200 left at the end of the semester, it will not be added to the following semester. Take my word for it, the money is not donated to charity and is not tax deductible, so if you don't use it, you have essentially thrown it away.