Dining Hall Hacks

Having to eat all your meals in a college cafeteria can be highly painful. It’s rare for the main stage to be serving something halfway decent and if you’re like me you often find sanctuary in a bowl of cereal for any meal of the day. What I’ve learned from my years of eating in a college caf, and before that a very similar boarding school dining hall, is that you got to work with what you got.

Banana Peanut Butter Honey Toast- This is something that I actually make for any meal and its perfect for when you wake up at noon and they aren’t serving pancakes and omelets any more. It starts with two slices of toast. Don’t worry it will get more exciting. I usually use multi grain because it’s healthier but more so because the multi grain slices are like 30% bigger than white or wheat. Also an English muffin can be substituted if you want a smaller snack. Next I spread peanut butter on both slices and then cut up a banana and put it on top. But wait, there’s more; the final touch is drizzling honey (found by the tea and coffee) over all of it. It sounds a little bizarre but the honey will change your life. It keeps it from being dry and helps me from craving something smothered in maple syrup. Bonus: If you want to take it on the go you can put them together and make it a sandwich.

Yogurt Parfait-The next thing I like to make is a yogurt parfait of sorts. All you need is yogurt, whatever fruit they have available and granola, which is often by the cereals.If you put it in a cup and layer it feels like a yogurt parfait that you would buy somewhere so I recommend doing that, presentation is everything people.

Strawberry Nutella Panini-The next one only works if they have Nutella in your dining hall or if you keep it in a jar in your backpack, which is NOT weird. This again starts with two pieces of your bread of choice. Next Nutella is spread on and sliced strawberries are added. Once it is put together into a sandwich of sorts, put it in the Panini press for a warm ooey, gooey, chocolaty, strawberry-y sandwich. You can also substitute bananas or apples.

Sort of Stir Fry- This is like a stir fry without the fry. I think most dining halls have rice on hand most of the time so start with that. Then add whatever chicken or veggies you would like from the salad bar. Top it of with some olive oil and the closest thing you can get to Asian dressing or soy sauce. Mix it together maybe even heat it up if you so desire and enjoy.

Pizzanini- If you could not tell from the name it’s a cross between pizza and a Panini. Start with two slices of bread and spread on tomato sauce found by the pasta area. Next add cheese from the salad bar and then chicken or any kind of vegetables you want. Throw it in the Panini press for how ever long it takes to melt the cheese and toast the bread.

Pizza Bagel- This one is very similar but instead of a sandwich it is on a bagel and uses the microwave to cook it. I recommend toasting the bagel first to get it crispy then adding the sauce and cheese and microwaving that till the cheese melts.

BBQ Chicken Melt- This is something I created in my mind after eating a similar sandwich at Friendly’s. I go to the sandwich station and get bread with chicken and shredded cheese, preferably cheddar if available. Then I add red onions, which are optional of course and barbecue sauce from the condiment station. Then toss it in the panini press (I spend a lot of time using the panini press). The result is a cheesy, warm barbecue chicken sandwich. Also if it is nugget day and they have crispy chicken available then it tastes even better with that.

Chicken Caesar Wrap- This is one I think is pretty creative on my part. I get a wrap from the sandwich bar with chicken, lettuce, onions, and Caesar dressing. From there I go to the salad bar to add croutons and then to the pasta station to get grated parmesan. Voila, classic chicken caesar wrap.

Finally for Dessert I have two things, both involving ice cream. The first is a big bowl of soft serve with cereal used as a topping. Don’t knock it till you try it. The second is to take two cookies, put ice cream in the middle and there you have a ice cream cookie sandwich. Or you can heat the cookies or a brownie in a bowl and then add ice cream on top. Dessert does not usually need a lot added to taste good but simple combinations can amp it up even more than you thought.

I’d love to know if you end up trying these or have any of your own hacks so let me know!

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