5 Must Have Apps for UW-Madison Students

I won’t openly admit to being smart-phone obsessed, but if you observed me for an extended period of time you would realize my phone is more than a phone to me. It’s my reading material, my alarm clock, my entertainment, my camera, my bank, my weather guy, my personal trainer, my to-do list, and my music player. My yellow iPhone 5c even has a nickname. One time my boyfriend called it, “Banana Phone,” and it has been named so ever since. So if you see a short blonde girl around campus muttering under her breath, “Where on earth is my banana phone?!” know she’s not *that* crazy.

I’m sure many of you can say the same thing about you and your phone (minus the nickname?). Since starting college banana phone and I have found some great apps that make your phone even more useful while you are out and about on campus. This is my list of six apps every student at UW-Madison should have, and they’re all free!

1. Hooked 

Hooked is an app where you can find deals for the restaurants around you. The deals only last for a couple of hours, and they change throughout the day. You’ll see deals for cafes and coffee shops in the morning, lunch/dessert places in the afternoon, and bars, grills, and pubs in the evening. You go into the restaurant to claim the deal, show the cashier your phone, click “GET HOOKED,” and boom, savings.

the hook

This is what my Hooked looked like around 2pm, just in time for lunch. Don’t worry. I’m obviously going to claim the BOGO beer deal too.

I LOVE Hooked. I only downloaded it because there was a stand on campus last summer and the guy running it said he’d give me a cookie if I did. Best decision I’ve ever made (besides choosing UW-Madison, duh). The deals Hooked has have been used as a major factor when deciding where I’ll eat lunch.

Plus, it’s only on three campuses: the University of Texas, the University of Michigan, and the University of Wisconsin! Download it. Feel special. Eat food. Save money.

Watch the Hooked Facebook page for new business and special deals too!

2. Google Maps

The UW-Madison campus is a little over 900 acres. You might end up a little lost from time to time, but that’s okay. With the Google Maps app you can find your way around. I probably use this app the second most out of all of my apps. Why? Because I am lazy and refuse to memorize the bus schedule.

All UW-Madison students have already paid for a bus pass through their segregated fees, so you simply have to grab your WisCard and go get one! To see where to pick up your bus pass check out this bus pass FAQ. With Google Maps it’s so easy to figure out which bus I should take and when I should be at the bus stop to catch it. This app is my life.

the bus pass

That blue dot is me. Hi, me!

Open the app, type where you want to go in the search box, click the little blue bus icon the lower right hand corner (don’t worry if it’s not a bus, you can change it on the next screen), and you can see all the buses going to that location. You can set it up to depart or arrive at a specific time too. So feel free to plan out your trips in advance if you want. Easiest way to find a bus route. I’ve been using it for years, and it’s very accurate.

3. My Fitness Pal

My Fitness Pal allows you to track the calories you’ve eaten and the calories you’ve burned. If you have a FitBit or similar device you can sync it to the app and it will count the calories you’ve burned while wearing it. Based on what you’ve eaten, it will show you the percentages of the macro nutrients you’ve consumed like protein, carbohydrates, and fat.


My entries don’t always look this good – trust me.

Add other people who know who use the app. Friends can create a little healthy (hahah.. ahh) competition! You can also get access blogs, recipes, and partake in discussions with the rest of the My Fitness Pal community.

4. Mobile UW

Mobile UW is the official UW-Madison app. It was recently updated (can I get a hallelujah?!) and now has a more interactive, user friendly interface. It offers features that are nice to have at the touch of a button while you don’t necessarily have access to a laptop or desktop computer. thecamp

It has a feature where you can track the buses, but, honestly, it doesn’t work as well as using Google Maps. You can also access a campus map, which is handy when you know the name of the building but not the address (this actually happens somewhat often on a campus this size). Search through a list of campus events, log into your MyUW or Learn@UW, quickly access emergency numbers, read UW news, and more.

5. Moocho

The Moocho app lets you pay for food on your phone. Every time you use Moocho you get points that earn you deals and rewards. The more you use Mooch the more you save!


I just use Moocho whenever I would already make a purchase. Spend the money you normally would, but get free stuff along the way. You can use it at fast food places, grocery stores, gas stations, tanning salons, and other shops around campus.


Do you have a favorite app? What’s your phone’s cool nickname? Comment!


The Lesser Known Evil: The Sophomore 15

A dramatic lifestyle change like starting college can make it very difficult to maintain your weight. Especially when mom isn’t making you those wonderful well-balanced meals anymore. However, the popularization of the ‘freshman 15’ has made many new students hyper-aware of their eating habits/work out routines their first year of college and, in turn, has helped them keep the weight off…

…at least until sophomore year.

That’s right, folks. The sophomore 15 is real, and it will sneak up on you.

What are two big reasons the sophomore 15 strikes?

How do you to avoid it?

Great questions.

1. More responsibilities.

My freshman year I wanted to get used to the swing of things. I took 13-14 credits and only worked on Saturdays. I had a lot of extra time to do whatever I wanted to dedicate time to. Many students choose to fill that time with studying, participating in student organizations, and working out. Many other students choose to fill that time with napping, browsing the internet, and maxing out their WisCard at the dining halls.

Admittedly, I was not one of the students who avoided the freshman 15. I was used to running track and playing basketball throughout my high school years, so motivating myself to workout was something I never had to do before. Plus, I was used to eating whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. When I got to college I stopped burning calories and started burning through pints Babcock Dairy ice cream.

babcock hall mocha macchiato ice cream pint

The dining halls sell pints of Babcock Dairy ice cream. Beware.

The point is, freshman year most students have many opportunities to work out throughout the week, whether they choose to do so is another matter. Sophomore year even those who took time to be active and work out freshman year may struggle. Why? Because there is simply less time!

Sophomores usually work more hours, maybe even have an internship, and are taking more credits. The number of free time hours is scarce. You find yourself spending your free time doing *gasp* responsible things like cleaning your room or paying your bills. Because let’s be honest, the clothes sitting on your floor have basically been acting as a second layer of carpet for the last three months.

How can you make time to work out?

When my sophomore year started I slowly forgot about the routine I had created that summer. In November I noticed the weight had been slowly creeping back. The truth was clear. I hadn’t been active basically at all, but I felt like I had no time to go to the gym.

I decided to plan out my whole life for Sophomore year. I planned out when and the number of hours I would be in the library, the gym, relaxing, all in advance. That may not sound super glamorous, but my grades improved and I felt a lot more in control. Sooo, make a schedule and stick to it! Buy a planner that breaks down each day into hours or print off your class schedule from your Student Center.

Hourly Planner

Do you have any breaks in your classes? Plan to go to the library or get to the gym during that time. You’ll be amazed at how much you can get done if you spend little amounts of free time being productive instead of sitting on your phone. Literally plan your whole week out by the hour. You’ll find it much more motivating to go to the gym if you feel like you’re SUPPOSED to be there rather than hoping you decide in the moment to go.

2. Cooking sucks.

If you’ve gotten your own apartment sophomore year, you’ve already started to miss eating at the dining halls for so cheap. All the food options allow you to choose your own adventure. Channel your inner Leslie Knope and get waffles and whipped cream or take a trip around the salad bar.

What are you supposed to do now? Cook for yourself? Cooking means you have to plan out the meal, prep, and clean. Plus, how do you even do it? It’s much easier to go out and pay for someone to make your food for you.

As easy as it is, eventually your body (and your wallet) realize that maybe you should give the employees at Five Guys a chance to forget your order.

How can you make cooking easy?

For the love of Bucky, buy a crock-pot (also known to some people as a slow cooker)!!!! These things work miracles. Plop a few ingredients in it, go to bed or go to class, and come back to a fully cooked filling meal. Let’s weigh the options here, 1) prep for an hour and clean fifty pots and pans or 2) prep for ten minutes and clean one pot.

Plus, it’s easy to make it healthy. Here’s a recipe for Pineapple Salsa Chicken from the Skinny Mom Team. It only has five ingredients and the only real directions are ‘dump ingredients into pot’, so no excuses. Find more yummy and healthy crock-pot meals on Healthy Slow Cooker Recipes, the free mobile app. It will even explain the nutrition break down of each meal! You could even sign up for Pinterest and search for what you want to make.

Pineapple Salsa Chicken. Photo courtesy of Skinny Mom Team.

I know what you’re thinking. What do you eat when you’re out and about running back and forth from class to the library to class? This is when you learn the art of planning ahead and packing your lunch.

Lindsay, a dietitian who writes The Lean Green Bean blog, has a great post about packing healthy lunches. Streamline her idea by preparing a whole weeks worth of lunches before it starts. Spare an hour of Sunday evening to get everything ready so you aren’t temped to leave your lunch at home.

Make some healthy sandwiches whether they are the classic pb&j, a cold cut, or something more creative, and put them in the freezer. Not only can they stay there until you need them, they will keep fine in your backpack until you’re ready for lunch!

Buy individually wrapped snacks or put them into snack baggies yourself! Aim to put about 100 calories of each snack into a separate baggie. Small Tupperware containers make it easy to pack dipping sauces, hummus, salsa, and peanut butter. The options are almost endless.

You’ve probably heard all this advice before, but that’s because it works. Just do it!


Do you have any tips or tricks that help motivate you to work out and eat healthy? What was your experience like with the freshman or sophomore 15? What is your favorite flavor of Babcock Dairy ice cream? Comment below!