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Dec 25 2016
by Nancy Canevari

12 Dining Hall Hacks to Spice Up College Food

By Nancy Canevari - Dec 25 2016
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There are a few things we’ll miss about college now that winter break is upon us — new friends, newly gained independence — but one thing that definitely won’t be missed is dining hall food. Once you’re back for the spring semester, however, here are some ideas on how to spice up dining hall food to make it more appetizing, especially on days when the regular food just isn’t cutting it.

1. Spice up your oatmeal.

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Oatmeal tends to get overlooked in the dining hall, which is a shame because oatmeal is one of the single most versatile foods known to humankind. There are endless flavor variations that can be made by getting creative, and they’re guaranteed to make breakfast more exciting. Some suggestions: peanut butter and jelly packets, flavored milk, applesauce, frozen berries, granola or maple syrup.


2. Ramen with extras.

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Ramen is a college staple, but it can get pretty boring if you’re eating it by itself. Spice up the classic with ingredients from the dining hall: add soy sauce or Sriracha, fresh vegetables or hard boiled eggs from the salad bar or different types of grilled meat or tofu.


3. Customize your toast and bagels.

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Make avocado toast with avocado from the salad bar, Sriracha, salt and pepper. Or, make your own pizza bagels with sauce from the pasta station and shredded cheese. If you want something sweet instead of savory, put peanut butter and sliced bananas on your toast, and top it with honey or cinnamon.


4. Crushed chips in salad.

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Replace your croutons with crushed tortilla chips — it gives a different taste and texture, and if you want to add salsa and cheese, it’s an easy taco salad.


5. Sandwiches in the waffle iron = paninis.

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The next time you want a sandwich, stick it in the waffle iron for a few seconds: everything will blend together, the cheese will melt and you’re guaranteed to feel more like an adult. Make sure that you don’t overload your sandwich, though, otherwise it’ll spill into the waffle iron and burn.


6. Cereal on ice cream.

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If you’ve never eaten cereal as an ice cream topping, you don’t know what you’re missing. Flake cereal is great because it adds a light crunch, but there is nothing greater than cocoa puffs and chocolate ice cream.


7. "Twice-baked" potatoes.

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Instead of just eating baked potatoes as they’re served, top them with other ingredients that you find: cheese, salsa, ham, vegetables, etc. Stick them in the microwave for about thirty seconds so that everything melts together, and you’re good to go.


8. Condiments on EVERYTHING.

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Never underestimate the power of condiments to liven up bland dining hall food. Sriracha and other hot sauces are great for pretty much anything, but red pepper flakes are also a great way to add flavor.


9. Fruit with toppings.

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This is a perfect snack if you want something sweet but still want to be healthy. Slice an apple or banana and spread peanut butter on the slices, then top them with chocolate chips or raisins. These are also an acceptable breakfast.


10. Bruschetta.

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Toast bread, and then top it with sliced tomato from the salad bar, olive oil, salt and pepper. They’re surprisingly tasty and can be eaten at pretty much any meal.


11. DIY breakfast burrito.

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Assemble your burrito with scrambled eggs, avocado, Sriracha, cheese, and any other toppings you want. If you don’t have tortillas, roll everything up in a slice of bread.


12. Dessert waffle.

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Who says waffles are just for breakfast? If you’ve never been exposed to the wonderful world of waffles and ice cream, now is as good a time as any to try. In addition to ice cream, though, Nutella also makes a great waffle topping, and it’s even better if you fold the waffle in half to make a waffle/Nutella sandwich.

Dining hall food can be boring, but it doesn’t have to be — with a few creative hacks, you can transform it into something much tastier. Keep these in mind as we head into the spring semester!

Lead Image Credit: Ashwin Vaswani via Unsplash

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Nancy Canevari - Smith College

Nancy is a junior editor for Fresh U. She is a sophomore at Smith College and plans on double majoring in secondary education and English, with a concentration in creative writing. She's originally from New Jersey, a place she views with one part love and one part exasperated disgust. She loves dogs and young adult high fantasy novels a bit too much and spends most of her time drinking tea and yelling about politics. Follow her on Instagram @fearlesslynancelot for some solidly mediocre content.

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