Dining Hall Hacks for Better Freshman Year Food

Use these tricks to make the most of dining hall grub.

August 20, 2014, 3:36 PM
PHOTO: Different dressings and salad bar toppings can create unique dining hall burgers.
Different dressings and salad bar toppings can create unique dining hall burgers.
Jude Buffum

— -- Dining hall dining can seem exciting at first, but reality is, the novelty wears off after you realize the options repeat fairly often.

If you’re headed off to college this year, or returning for another weary year of the same food, you’ll want to read on. Food writer Priya Krishna assembled all-new recipes in her new book, “Ultimate Dining Hall Hacks,” that take standard dining hall fare and turn them into something completely new in just a few easy steps.

For example, you can use various salad bar accoutrements to create all-new burgers, like in the graphic above.

Here are her top dining hall tips and tricks. You’re sure to be the food envy of all your friends with these.

  • Make your meal work for you. “If a recipe doesn’t seem to-go friendly to you, you can make it that way. One easy way is to put the ingredients in a wrap (Eggs Carbonara becomes a delicious breakfast burrito, for example) or press them in a panini press,” Krishna said. “Disposable soup bowls or your own reusable bowls with lids are also convenient. Many are microwave friendly, and you can make practically anything in them.”
  • Play off what you know you like. “Find flavor profiles you really like and apply them in new ways,” she advised. “So, for example, if you like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, try putting it on soft serve or cake. If you like caprese salads, then try putting tomato, basil and mozzarella on a piece of chicken or in a Panini.”
  • Mix and match. “Don’t be afraid to use stuff from different stations – just because something is in one station doesn’t mean you can’t use it in another station,” Krishna said. “I like putting meatballs on top of a spinach salad or pesto in a dressing or apricot jam with grilled pork. You can mix peanut butter with soy sauce and chili sauce to make peanut sauce to dip chicken satay.”
  • If all else fails, become best friends with cheese. “A weird foolproof tip is you can always use the microwave to melt cheese on top of a savory dish, and it will most likely make it taste better,” Krishna said.

To implement these tips, try one of Krishna’s recipes from her book.

Eggs Carbonara: Get the recipe here.

Chicken and Waffles: Get the recipe here.

Sweet Potato Pie: Get the recipe here.

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