What Happens When You Live Off the Grill

Susanne bushman, Arts Editor
bushmans@grinnell.edu

Susanne Bushman ’16 putting on a brave face on her final day of the Grill challenge. (Photo by Hannah Hwang.)

Susanne Bushman ’16 putting on a brave face on her final day of the Grill challenge. (Photo by Hannah Hwang.)

With two weeks left in the semester The S&B’s Arts Editor, Susanne Bushman ‘16, had nearly $125 dollars left in Dining Dollars. Unsure how to spend it, she took up a “Grill Challenge” where she only ate food from the Grill for three days. Here she recounts the journey.

As I started my challenge (or as I like to think of it, #grillcleanse2k15), I was truly optimistic. I initially saw the Grill as a place to get mediocre coffee to feed my caffeine addiction and get snacks between classes. I had never really been one to eat whole meals there, so I started by telling people what I was doing and asking for food recommendations. I was somewhat surprised to find that everyone seemed to think that I had made a huge mistake, and an unexpected number expressed concern for my digestion. I assumed that since I regularly eat in the Dining Hall I wouldn’t feel that different after eating only in the Grill. Little did I know just how wrong I would be.

By the end of day one, I was ultimately shocked by how much I had spent that day and how unsatisfied I was. The socializing aspect of the Grill was still sublime and it was fun having Mara Rosenberg ’17 introduce me to new friends at lunch. However, even with three “full meals” and a midday snack, I felt distinctly hungry, probably because of the lack of fiber that I consumed. Looking for fiber at the Grill gave me three options: a piece of fruit, a salad or a fiber filled granola bar. The fruit and vegetables, while technically fulfilling that label, weren’t too appealing. I ended up buying a second dinner so that I didn’t go to bed with my stomach growling.

Breakfast: Lara bar, coffee
Lunch: Cheese quesadilla, diet Coke, Kettle chips, muffin (for a friend)
Afternoon Snack: Nature Valley granola bar, Naked juice
Dinner: Chicken parmesan sandwich,
Kettle chips, Vitamin Water
Emergency Second Dinner: Chicken quesadilla
Total Cost: $31.48

The second day, I woke up pretty hungry, so I tried to approach the day differently—tackling my hunger by asking specifically for recommendations that would fill me up. Though I anticipated a terrible day, I actually kind of enjoyed eating in the Grill and talking with people who I wouldn’t normally share meals with. The Grill is a great social place, even if it quickly became clear that it’s not meant to be your sole source of food. The dinner hours are pretty quiet in the Grill, but Ivy Kuhn ’16 and I made a plan to eat together and we both enjoyed our black bean quesadillas. It felt like a nice change from the D-Hall.

Breakfast: Bagel with cream cheese, coffee
Lunch: Florentine panini, Baked Lays, diet Coke
Afternoon Snack: Diet Coke, Kettle chips
Dinner: Black bean quesadilla, Kettle chips, Vitamin Water
Total Cost: $23.50

Though I had managed to stay mostly positive for the first two days, on the third day I was outright dreading eating. I had a hard time getting recommendations because everyone brought up only two things to me: a black bean quesadilla or a florentine panini. My recommendations might have been skewed because I was primarily asking my fourth-year friends, but it struck me as sad that out of the entire menu people really only recommended two things. For dinner I had something no one recommended: a grilled chicken salad, which featured a weird assortment of vegetables and was topped with raisins. I never thought I would miss the D-Hall but I did.

Breakfast: Muffin, coffee
Lunch: Mozzarella sticks, chicken barbeque sandwich, frappé
Dinner: Grilled chicken sandwich, Vitamin Water, Sabra hummus with pretzels
Total Cost: $29.62

After three days of investigating I had truly gotten to the bottom of the truth about the Grill. The Grill is great for snacks, but no one should follow in my footsteps and make it their primary food source. First of all, it’s far too expensive. No college student could spend almost $85 on food in three days. And even for $85, you’re not getting enough “bang for your buck.” Also, your healthy options are extremely limited and those available are expensive. By lunch on the second day of my challenge I wished that the Grill sold more options for me to “round out” my meals, like raw vegetables or more fruit. With new battered, deep fried mystery foods offered every semester, I can’t be the only student who wants a better balance. Given how much I’m paying already, I should at least feel good about my choices.

Total Cost Over Three Days: $84.60 (Not calculated: emotional strife and physical pain)