Anyone who has lived in a dorm at university, and has therefore been subjected to the school meal plan, probably does not recall the dining halls with fondness. At the beginning of this year, I was pumped for my meal plan to be activated; I had returned to school early to work, but had to provide my own food.
After two weeks of surviving off of the only things I could afford to buy en masse – Cheetos, cheddar popcorn, cookies, etc – I was ready for anything that even remotely resembled a meal.
The problem, however, is just that – the dining hall food doesn’t really resemble anyone’s idea of a meal. Sure, the first few days, I gorged myself on the endless supply of pizza, pasta, and Coke (nothing is better than feeding my caffeine addiction for free). But less than a week later, I’m already starting to feel disgust at the mere thought of our dining halls.
I’m a vegetarian, so even a slight restriction limits my ability to forage for something edible, though I’m told by my omnivorous friends that the meat products are sketchy, anyway, and that I’m probably the one who’s better off, anyway.
As a junior, after two years on the school meal plan, I’ve taken to getting creative with my meals. These are constructed of various sides and molded into unexpected combos that are a welcome deviation from the less-innovative main dishes.
Now, I make no guarantees regarding the healthfulness of these suggestions. Eaten regularly, many of them will make you feel gross and lethargic. But this is about survival, people!
1. The Snagel
I have no idea who invented the Snagel, where, or when. All I know is that our student-run coffee shop sells these, and they are delicious. Slice a bagel in half, and spread cream cheese across the tops. Add a thin layer of brown sugar all over, and chow down! Sounds weird – or at least, it did to me, when I sampled one for the first time just a few weeks ago – but it is DELICIOUS.
2. Pizza Bagel
I know, I know. More bagels. But they’re just so versatile… apparently. Anyway, take a bagel, halve it, and spread marinara sauce on top. Sprinkle it with cheese, and toast! Voila, pizza bagel.
Most cafeterias offer wraps. All you need is a wrap, cheese, and your favorite fillings. Load ‘em up, fold ‘em over, stick ‘em in a toaster, and you’re good to go.
Most of you probably have no idea what poutine is, but it’s a French-Canadian dish of awesomeness, introduced to me by one of my best friends. It’s basically fries smothered in gravy, with various other toppings that vary by the maker. Now, I’ve never had real poutine, so my standards are pretty low. But when gravy is being served, I grab a fry basket, smother them in gravy, add some queso/cheese, and maybe even some barbecue sauce.
Is this a meal? Not really. But it’s something different, and sometimes, you just need a break from the usual.
5. Hamburger buns as rolls.
My school never really sets out rolls, and sometimes, I really miss them. So I ask for a hamburger bun – just the bun – over at the grill. They’re usually soft and delicious, albeit bigger than a regular roll. Carb craving fulfilled!
Do you have a meal plan? What weird combos do you come up with in the dining hall?