The Dining Hall has more to offer than the options you’ll find listed on the menu. There are countless ingredient options and permutations of your favorite foods that can yield deliciously delightful dishes. With a little bit more work, some creativity and plentiful use of the various ingredients scattered throughout the Dining Hall, every meal becomes an adventure. You will never have to complain that there is nothing good to eat at a particular meal. With practice, you’ll begin to see unique combinations each time you seek out food and you will soon create a plethora of amazing meals. We’ll get started with an easy dish to make at every meal.
Breakfast can be notoriously difficult to find something new to eat. If the Eggs-to-Order line seems longer than your most boring class, you’re not going to want to get eggs. This usually leaves bagels, pastries, cereal, waffles and the occasional plat du jour item. While these options can be pretty enjoyable, day after day of the same item can get tedious. I suggest making a little something I call Power Oatmeal. I like to start by grabbing a large bowl (the ones for stir-fry vegetables hold the most volume) and filling it about halfway with oatmeal. Skip over to the area to the right of pizza that has the peanut butter and cream cheese. Add in a large scoop of peanut butter, a small dollop of cream cheese, and a generous squeeze of honey. Next, head over to the microwave and spice rack. I add cinnamon (tons!), nutmeg, cinnamon sugar and a pinch of kosher salt, then I toss it into the microwave for about 30-40 seconds. The honey will boil and melt the cream cheese and peanut butter. Remove the (HOT) bowl from the microwave, stir until the ingredients are well mixed. At this point, you can enjoy your deliciously nutritious oatmeal, but I like to add a scoop of vanilla yogurt to the mix for added creaminess. Another great add-in is fruit from the waffle bar; have them toss in some fruit while the waffles are cooking. This is a simple, quick dish that will get you through all of your morning classes and also tastes delicious.
Lunch is a tricky time to navigate the Dining Hall. Most of us have a more limited time schedule during lunch, so finding food quickly is key. This time, we’ll make a delicious bagel pizza. Start by grabbing a small bowl from the stir fry station and take it over to the quick pasta line; have them fill it with marinara sauce. Snag a bagel and toast it while you add a touch of cream cheese to your marinara. Grab your toasted bagel and head over to the salad bar for toppings. I like to add fresh spinach, peppers, mushrooms and a sprinkling of cheese to my bagel pizza. Take your ingredients over to the microwave area and assemble your two bagel halves into pizzas. I layer it (from bottom to top): bagel, sauce, vegetable toppings, sauce, cheese and seasonings. I season my pizzas with the Italian seasonings, chili powder and cajun spices. Microwave for about 20-30 seconds and enjoy! This is quick, easy and scrumptious.
Dinner is a great time to relax and explore the Dining Hall for ingredients and combinations. One of my favorites is a Baked Ziti Doppelganger. It’s surprisingly easy to create. Snag a bowl of marinara sauce and a bowl of pasta from the pasta bar. Add a large spoonful of cream cheese, a scoop of mozzarella cheese, two small spoons of balsamic vinegar (by salad bar) and some Italian seasonings to your marinara sauce, then microwave for about 20 seconds. Mix thoroughly and pour over the pasta. Enjoy the happiness that comes with a delicious pasta sauce.
The Dining Hall is a playground, filled with ingredients just ready to be made into amazing dishes. If you think about what you are eating, if you take the time to craft something worth indulging in, if you make every meal a masterpiece, then your life will be better for it. Don’t just eat to live, live to eat. You stay classy, Grinnell.