Surviving the Dining Halls 101

It’s easy to get bored with the options students have in the dining halls across campus. Ranging from a vegan patty to a curried dal, the options are really not that diverse. I know that I definitely find myself staring at the array of food at the hot bar, yet I am always bored with the options before me. That’s why when I got here I flexed my creative muscles and created my very own dining hall hacks to survive and never get bored! I experimented with different food combinations so that I was and am always left excited for the dinner rush rather than anxious about my next meal.

1.) Spruce up your salads



You can’t go wrong with a nice refreshing salad, especially since Mount Holyoke’s salad bar has a wide array of options never limiting you from having a nutritious, yet delicious, salad. However, a bowl of mixed greens sprinkled with some tomatoes and carrots isn’t all that exciting after a while, so that’s when I began to get creative!

First, begin by choosing a source of protein. To keep the salad more on the healthy side stick to a whole source of protein like fish, chicken, beans, or grains. Add at least one to keep your salad satisfying. The beauty of this is that you can switch up your protein source each time you have a salad, making it that much more exciting each time you have one! Also, don’t be afraid to add things from the hot bar to your salad. For example, I love adding steamed veggies or baked beans to raw veggies. It creates a variety of texture on your plate making the salad that much more delicious and addictive! In addition, sometimes sprinkling some craisins or nuts (offered near the desserts or dressing bar) can really take your salad to an entirely new level. Add a chopped up apple from the fruit station with a drizzle of Italian vinaigrette to make an apple gorgonzola salad. If you’re not a fan of sweet dressings try out some fresh squeezed lemons, dijon mustard, or even sriracha to give your salad a nice kick of flavor!

2.) Twist on the Classic Breakfast Staple



I love cereal! If you have ever seen that stereotypical girl eating 10 bowls of cereal in a dining hall then it’s most likely me. Back at home I rarely ate cereal as I was more of a smoothie kind of girl. However, now being without my regular smoothies I am starting a develop a newfound appreciation for cereal, and not just limiting the consumption of it to breakfast time. From dessert to a snack in the middle of the day cereal is a convenient and simple option. Most students might disagree with me and my fascination over the delectable treat, as cereal is generally seen as “boring” and “bland.” I, however, have flexed my imagination when it comes to cereal and made some clever tweaks to always having me look forward to my next bowl! First of all, do not be afraid to mix your cereals! Typically dining halls, especially Wilder, have a multitude of options for cereal, so don’t be afraid to mix up all of your favorites. I love adding Rice Chex, Corn Puffs, and some good old Raisin Bran into my cereal concoctions. But wait, I’m not done just yet. Grab a banana from the fruit station, slice it up into cute little banana coins, and sprinkle it over top of your cereal to add some extra fiber, potassium, magnesium, and a hint of sweetness. Try drizzling some honey over top or sprinkling some cinnamon if you want to be adventurous and spice up your cereal a bit more. Then, when you are finally done getting everything prepped, choose your favorite milk; don’t be afraid to go crazy! I love switching up my milk with rice milk, almond milk, or if I’m craving something indulgent I’ll go for some chocolate soy milk!

3.) Elvis’ Dream Sandwich



The peanut butter and banana sandwich, sometimes referred to as an “Elvis sandwich,” became famous for its iconic pairing of peanut butter and banana. So many times I see students reaching for the desserts on display, but no offense to any cake or cookie lovers, they can get quite boring and repetitive after a while. That’s why I began to steer more towards the condiments station where I discovered I could make my very own “Elvis Sandwich” using the bananas from the fruit station and the peanut butter packets served in all dining halls! Now, if you have a peanut allergy clearly you can omit the peanut butter, but don’t feel left out because if you just replace the peanut butter and only use jam it will still taste great!

First, begin by grabbing bread of your choice. If you’re bored or just simply not a fan, try swapping your bread for something more unconventional. Go for a rice cake if you are gluten sensitive or try it with a bagel if you’re in the mood. Then, slather that baby with a generous dollop of peanut butter. Top it off with a sliced up a banana and voila! You have officially made yourself the mother of all sandwiches. If you’re more adventurous though and don’t want to stop there try drizzling some honey (near the tea station) over the peanut butter, or you can even try adding some jam, and you will have yourself the REAL holy grail of sandwiches! Now if only the dining halls offered nutella…


The beautiful part about all of these concoctions is that they are easily accessible across all of the dining halls on campus! All of the suggestions listed are always readily available no matter where you choose to eat, so you really don’t have an excuse to NOT try out one of these “recipes.” If you too have your very own dining hall hacks make sure to share them on Mount Holyoke’s Her Campus Twitter or Instagram @HCMtHolyoke, or comment on our Facebook page.   

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