A Picky Eater’s Guide to Surviving College

As I packed my things to get ready to move to college, I wasn’t nervous about moving 1,000 miles from home— I knew I could adjust to sharing a bathroom, and I was ready for all of my classes to start. I was, however, absolutely terrified at the idea of living off a meal plan. Throughout high school, I ate the same exact thing for lunch every day (peanut butter and jelly on whole-grain white bread, apple juice, mandarin oranges, and two Oreos), and I made my breakfast and dinner for myself at home, comfortable with my few favorite foods. I had no idea what I would do without home-cooked meals, and I was terrified that I wouldn’t want to eat anything the dining halls offered.

In the beginning, I avoided the dining halls at all costs, spending most of my time—and dining points—at the GSU.  Luckily, it is now my sixth week away from home, and despite my⁠ initial concern, I have not starved to death! Over the past months at college, I’ve picked up a few tricks:

  1. 1. Go to the grocery store and keep emergency snacks in your room and in your backpack.

    I visit the Star Market on Commonwealth Avenue once a week and stock up on milk, fruits, and other snacks. Even if I don’t like what the dining hall is serving that day, I know I have goldfish in my backpack and Easy Mac waiting for me back in the dorm, so I never have to worry about going to bed hungry. 

  2. 2. Find a staple that the dining hall serves every day.

    Every dining hall has a salad bar that is open during every meal, so even if I don’t like the main meal of the day, I know there will always be something for me to eat.  There is also always cereal, toast, and either rice or pasta options every day! 

  3. 3. Ask for a smaller portion and try something new!

    I normally hate trying new things because I’m afraid of wasting the leftover food, so I’ve started asking for super small portions of items I’m not sure about. If I don’t like it, I can throw the rest away without feeling wasteful, and if I do like it, I can go back for a bigger scoop later. So far, I’ve tried—and loved—green beans, mashed potatoes, and bread pudding using this method!  

  4. 4. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and customize your meals!

    I love plain pasta, so I was so disappointed when Marciano Commons’ pasta was always served mixed with red sauce.  It wasn’t until the third week of school that I finally built up the courage to ask if they could make a bowl without sauce for me. The server behind the counter told me to wait two minutes before setting aside a bowl full of plain pasta just for me before mixing the next batch in the sauce. Now pasta is one of my favorite dining hall staples, and the servers have started to recognize me with a smile when I walk up to the counter.

    I have a friend who is allergic to a lot of common ingredients, so the first week of school, she met with the Sargent Choice Nutrition Center, where a nutritionist and one of the dining hall managers helped her review meals that would fit her diet and talked to her about how easy it is to make specific requests so that she is able to enjoy as many of the dining hall options as she can.

After being too scared to enter the dining halls during my first week at Boston University, I have slowly grown and learned to love eating with meal swipes, and I hope with these tips that you can too!

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