Free meals and snacks can be a lifesaver, but a new study finds they can be pricey.
The University of California, Los Angeles, researchers found that the average price for a typical meal plan was $8.99, up from $7.59 in 2007.
And that’s before factoring in costs for groceries, transportation and other expenses.
The study, published in the journal Food Research and Economics, analyzed more than 2,500 restaurant menus, and found that a typical plate of steak topped with fries and a bag of chips costs $10.80, up $1.36 from 2006.
The most expensive meal plan: The $16.99-a-plate, three-course meal plan that costs $15.99 a plate.
It includes two servings of a six-ounce plate of chicken breast, a large salad and two large cheeses.
The cheapest: A two-meal, six-course, one-pot meal plan, which includes a four-ounce portion of chicken and two servings.
The average cost for the meal plan is $5.83.