There's a lot of different food options at the U of M. There's dining halls that first year students mainly use, there's on-campus retail locations and then there's a TON of off-campus options for any type of foodie. When I was a first year, I lived in Bailey Hall over in the St. Paul campus which has the best dining hall food, according to most students. There's just something about the french fries there that are far superior to all the other locations, haha!
As I finished up my first year, I moved into an apartment and started cooking for myself and eating around campus more. I actually still bought a meal plan though so I could eat at different dining halls like Sanford Hall and 17th Ave. which were close to my apartment.
Actually, last year the U opened up a new dining hall in the new residence hall (17th Ave.) which is called Fresh Food Co. The FFC is a special dining hall compared to all the others on campus. The other dining halls are just typical buffet style, pizza, burgers, salad bar, rice, etc. FFC is special because it's all FRESH. Everything there is cooked freshly infront of you and portioned out in healthy portions for you to eat. There's even a Mongolian Grill station in the back that has a build-your-own-stir-fry that I like to have for lunch every week to this day!
In general, with meal plans though, there's an addition to it called FlexDine. About $100 is loaded onto your student ID with the meal plan which can be used on retail locations on campus. For example, in Coffman Memorial Union there's a Panda Express and a Chick-Fil-A. You can also use the FlexDine on things like Starbucks or Jamba Juice!
As a third year now, I personally just go to FFC, eat some stir fry or explore Minneapolis for the best food possible. There's a famous burger that started in the Twin Cities called the Juicy Lucy which is a burger with melted cheese in the center of the meat. I actually just had one downtown last night!
You'll never run out of food options here! It's the best.