Frequently Asked Questions

Photograph of Broccoli


Amazing! Join the thousands of students that have more time to do the things that matter! If you are a prospective student, the easiest way to buy a Clever Cuisine Plan is via our website. If you are opting for a Self-Catered Room, or are in private accommodation, you'll be given the choice of all plans and durations. If you opt for a Catered Room, a plan will be included in your room automatically and you don't need to take any further action. Payment for plans is taken either by the term or year and is upfront via debit/credit card. Meal Plans for 2023/24 will go on sale in August 2023.

Yes in a limited number of circumstances which include;

  • Within 14 days of purchase, if purchased separately from a Hall Room (so you paid in advance with a debit/credit card, online)
  • If your Accommodation Contract is ended/cancelled early (any notice period applying to Accommodation, applies to your Meal Plan). This generally means you can't cancel one, without cancelling the other.
  • Exceptional Circumstances such as a serious injury or illness, at our sole discretion. You (the student) will need to book a time to speak to us in person to ensure we fully understand your case and make sure we haven't missed anything. This is at the sole discretion of the University and isn't a decision that can be appealed.
There are generally no other circumstances where the University considers downgrades, cancellations or refunds are made so we strongly advise you to come and talk to us if you are struggling to use your Meal Plan so we can assist sooner - we can usually help, if we know there's an issue. The Meal Plan system is operated at cost by the University and our sole objective is to feed you. Not using a Meal Plan is not grounds for a refund or cancellation, so we strongly advise you to use your Meal Plan to fullest extent. If we do grant cancellation under exceptional circumstances, it is not back-dated, so again, please use your Meal Plan while you wait for a decision. Come and speak to use if you are struggling to use your Meal Plan and we will assist. If you are struggling to pay for a Meal Plan, or your financial circumstances have changed, please contact Student Credit Control and they will be able to assist with a payment plan. If you are going on placement please book at time to see us so we can provide a personalised plan for you.

Yes, you can. Contact the Accommodation Office and request an upgrade. If you require any further assistance please contact us

No. Clever Cuisine is uniquely modelled on successful Eating Plans found outside of the UK that place an emphasis on the importance of quality, ethical, delicious and nutritious food to help you excel academically while offering a high degree of flexibility. We have invested in excess of £22 million during the last fifteen years into our outlets, people and technology, unlike most UK Universities, many of which still operate eat where you live halls catering or are moving towards cafe only operations. We believe that if by providing you with good food to avoid the 'pasta and sauce' student diet helps you succeed, then it is worth investing in. We are humbled that others try to 'copy' us but the original is best!


Our University is a 'foodies' University with our own farms producing a wide range of produce and with academic departments covering Food, Climate, Soil, Nutrition and Agriculture. Our food operations are fully owned and operated by the University. We are the only University to be a member of TUCO (The University Caterers Organisation), NACUFS (National Association of Colleges and Universities Food Services) and MCURC (Menus of Change Universities Research Collaborative). We are the only member of NACUFS in the UK and were the first to join Menus of Change Research Collaborative, a leading joint academic-food operator initiative driving up food standards internationally.


We don't believe any other University has anything that is as broad and extensive as Clever Cuisine. We are committed to continual improvement, as we believe we are far from perfect, but we are determined to get as close to perfection as possible and this is reflected in the overall quality and growth of our operations. If you have any ideas for improvements, as always, please let us know.


Clever Cuisine, Giving Food More Thought and the plate device are registered trademarks of the University of Reading.

They are clean! The local councils inspect our kitchens through unannounced visits that require in-depth plans, procedures and training to achieve top marks. The ratings run from zero to five stars (five being the best) and you can find out more on the Scores on the Doors website where you can look up any UK food operation. Our own Food Safety system is enforced by unannounced checks by Neil, our in-house auditor. Our kitchens are all designed to be hygienic with stainless steel counters and are easy to keep clean to ensure safe food every time, with well trained staff that understand key risks. We are always happy to show you around our kitchens. Please contact us to arrange a visit if you are interested, want to report a concern, ask a question or chat about this with us.

Lots! Our work has been independently verified by the Sustainable Restaurant Association through their Food Made Good Scheme and the University receiving the highest score of 3 stars covering all our student food and physical outlets. Visit this page to see our progress across a variety of areas, including what we are working on.

See and click 'Using your Plan'  

The University recommends all first year students buy a Clever Cuisine Eating Plan as eating a varied diet can aid study and learning.

No, the weeks are allocated to certain blocks such as the Autumn Term. See the Terms and Conditions for more details -

No, our terms and conditions prohibit this - the exception is any Guest Meals.

Yes, selected plans have Guest Meals included which can be used to feed guests or parents free of charge in our main Dining Areas.

Yes, depending on your plan, you'll need to spend balances daily, weekly, termly or yearly. Check the Clever Cuisine home page for more information on individual plans


or contact us via

Unspent Clever Cuisine Meal Plan funds are used to provide up to 30 Eating Plans per week to students in financial hardship. These plans are distributed by Students Services.

Place your Campus Card on a Campus Card reader and wait for the till to read it. The first balance 'Cashless' doesn't relate to your Eating Plan and is used for paying for food and drink/photocopying etc. The balance labelled Clever Cuisine is Free Cash if your Meal Plan includes it and this rolls until the end of term. The reader will show a second screen after around 5 seconds, labelled 'Swipes' and is your Meal Swipe balance. You'll need to divide this number by 3 if on Platinum, 6 if on Gold or 5 if on Silver and round down, to get the number of swipes remaining. The number shown is for internal use only and doesn't relate to any 'real' cash. If you need further help please visit the Concierge Desk at Park Eat.

Please contact the Clever Cuisine Team via email or in person at the Concierge Desk. We cook from scratch in kitchens handling multiple allergens so there is a risk of cross-contamination so those with severe allergies should ask before eating. If you are on a Clever Cuisine Eating Plan please book a time to see our Head Chef so we can tailor our services to you. You are also welcome to ask our staff to change their gloves or wash their hands before serving you due to your allergies.

The University is investing to continually improving the student experience and while we aim to keep disruption to a minimum sometimes we do need to adjust services/offerings. Currently we are working on specific projects to replace our  IT systems, food counters, furniture and decor with changes being made in the Summer Vacation periods.

All chicken and lamb we cook with is Halal and is slaughtered in a humane manner that is approved by the RSPCA. Beef is not currently certified as Halal as it comes from our own farm and our local butcher isn't certified Halal. At Bars and Dining locations, our food is labelled on counters indicating whether or not it is suitable for a Halal diet. Park Eat, Wantage, Eat at the Square and St. Patrick's can cater for a Halal diet with a wide range of choice. At Park House and The Dairy, only vegetarian and vegan dishes are suitable for Halal diets.

Most of our food is self-service, some items are served to ensure availability for all but you may come back for more once you have finished the first portion.

It certainly is! Have a look at the Clever Cuisine Nutrition page and also our Wellness Portal to see all the great things we do. Cooking from scratch gives us the ability to leave out various nasty ingredients. If after looking at our pages you feel we aren't offering anything healthy, please request a face to face meeting letting us know what you want to talk about (the more detail the better) and we’ll send the most appropriate and senior member of the team to talk to you. We are always happy to work with you to ensure you eat how you want to.

Absolutely not. We cook our food from scratch each day from the freshest ingredients we have available to us and are reducing the number of deep fat fryers across our sites, using seasonal ingredients and avoiding processed foods, bases, pastes, preservatives etcetera. Our teams don’t like fryers as they are unpleasant to use and make you smell, so we keep frying to a minimum. Park Eat, Eat at the Square, Wantage and St. Patrick's are all working on phasing out fryers, so are focussed on oven baking items. Our Wellness Portal displays the nutritional value of the majority of items we serve.

Nope! We don't own any giant boiling pans, vats or cauldrons for cooking food in this way. We cook the majority of vegetables, pasta and rice in perforated trays in commercial steamers. If you fancy a look at a giant steamer or anything else in our kitchens please get in touch and we'll make it happen...


Our Clever Cuisine team are available to help, contact us below.