By Ethan McAlpin | firstname.lastname@example.org
When dining hall depression begins to set in, I think we can all agree that it is time to try some much needed secondary options to keep you energized and eating well while living in a dorm.
Tired of the usual scrambled ‘eggs,’ overly crispy bacon, and bland, clumpy grits in the dining hall, I figured it was time to try something new. As I pulled up my bank account balance when I was getting ready to leave my dorm to walk to a nearby bakery, the bargaining question of college students everywhere jumped to the front of my mind.
“Should I spend five to ten dollars on breakfast today, or skip breakfast and save that money for another time?”
Weighing my account balance with the lack of food in my empty, growling stomach, I decided it was time to make a change.
I began asking around to my friends in years above me who had been through dorms and the dining hall before. Here’s what a few of them had to tell me about staying nourished while eating healthy throughout the day, even when my wallet is nearly empty.
Emma Betz, a sophomore at Flagler College, says for breakfast, she likes to get plain Greek yogurt and add some of her own fresh fruit to the mix. Less sugar, more flavor. Betz also suggests making your own smoothies. It’s easy.
“[All you] need [is] a cheap Target blender and you’re ready to whip up some delicious and filling smoothies,” Betz said. She recommends using “vegan protein powder with either peanut butter, cocoa powder and almond milk” for a delicious taste.
If you have to eat at the dining hall, make the most of it, as sophomore Grace Leary said.
“Just take advantage of the healthier options they have,” Leary said. “Like egg whites instead of the regular stuff.”
So you’ve been to at least one of your classes for the day and need some energy to push through the rest, but none of the lunch options in the dining hall appeal to you. Head straight for the salad bar. Leary’s advice to me was to “get creative with the salad bar.”
If you don’t trust your own salad making capabilities, possibly take sophomore Mason Schilling’s advice, “I’d say get like pre-made salad packages and stuff like that.” It’s true, though you can’t go wrong with a salad-making professional’s creation.
If a salad just isn’t your cup of tea, junior, Alex Dasilva, provides us with his go-to meal from his dorm days.
“I usually just made sandwiches,” he said. Perhaps the best part about homemade sandwiches, if carefully thought out, is something that I think we can all agree upon; sandwiches are simply “better for me, physically and financially” than most typical dorm cuisines (i.e. Ramen Noodles and delivery pizza).
To top off your lunch, I personally recommend fruit, as it won’t add an additional dent in your wallet. Where to get it? The dining hall. Always stocked with fresh fruit ranging from apples to oranges, to bananas, to peaches, it’s always easy to take as much as you need and bring it all back to your dorm to fill out your “pantry.” A freshman myself, I’ve found that this is an excellent way to always have something to snack on in your dorm or to add to any meal.
So you’ve gotten through the day and you’re classes are over, but you missed dinner hours in the dining hall because you were studying so diligently in the library. And remember, you’re a starving, broke college student, so going out to eat isn’t an option.
What do you do?
Personally, I would make myself a large bowl of homemade Mac & Cheese. It’s simple: microwave a bowl of pasta shells with water, add a bunch of shredded cheese, microwave briefly to melt the cheese and voilà, dinner is served.
If that doesn’t calm your appetite, maybe Emma Betz’s alternative will. Betz enjoys making whole grain brown rice and quinoa blends. “Quinoa is delicious and nutritious, packing loads of protein. All you need is a rice cooker or you can find pre-cooked quinoa/brown rice that is microwaveable. [Drizzle the blend with] reduced sodium soy sauce, coconut oil for a sweeter taste, or have it plan,” Betz said.
Additionally, Mason Schilling suggested keeping microwavable vegetables stocked in your freezer as a compliment to your meal.
For a nutritious dessert that will give you energy before you take on the rest of your night, treat yourself to a delicious chocolate or peanut butter covered frozen banana. Grab one of the bananas that you previously stashed from the dining hall, cover it in a chocolate or peanut butter spread, and place it in your freezer until frozen. Mhhmmmm.
Now, for those times when you get back to your dorm so late you should have been asleep for the past five hours, make yourself a peanut butter and banana sandwich. Adding protein and potassium to your diet, this simple snack takes less than a minute to make and is astonishingly delicious.
I hope this helps you survive the plague of dining hall depression, keeping your stomach feeling full until the semester comes to an end.