When the dining hall gives you lemons, make lemonade

    Yummy food in the dining hall is not entirely out of the question, we promise. Photo by Florence Sit / North by Northwestern.

    You’re back from winter break and gone from the tight confines of your all too loving parents. Eagerly hugging your friends, you all chat about new classes and watch people file into the dorm. At 5:30 p.m., you all grab your WildCards and walk outside (or downstairs), swipe your card and enter into a wondrous land of unlimited food.

    Well, the food seemed wondrous last quarter.

    If those grilled cheeses don’t make you salivate like the good ole days, then here are a few tips on how to get creative with your dining hall eats.


    Tea Sandwich
    Start with a toasted piece of bread — the smaller, the better. Spread a layer of cream cheese on top, followed by a layer of tuna. Finish with a cucumber slice. Grab some hot tea, stick out your pinkie and have your own tea party, dining hall style.

    Veggie Bagel Sandwich
    This is a pretty simple idea, basically consisting of a toasted bagel and a lot of fun at the salad bar. It’s also a great way to keep up healthy eating in a place where burgers, pizza and fries are the norm. Just take your toasted bagel, put veggie cream cheese or hummus on both sides, and start laying down the veggies. Cucumbers, black olives and lettuce are great toppings. In between veggie layers you can put extra spread just to make sure your toppings stick.

    Tomato and Vinaigrette Sandwich
    There are four key layers to this sandwich: toasted bread, salad veggies, provolone cheese and sliced tomato. Drizzle the whole thing with vinaigrette at the end for some flair, but be sure to put some on between the layers or it will end up bland.

    Tuna Melt
    A hot sandwich perfect for cold times. Toast a piece of bread, and while it’s toasting grab some tuna and microwave it with a piece of cheese on top. Then, take your bread and slide the tuna on top.

    French Onion (or veggie, or chicken) Soup
    Pick a day with a relatively unassuming soup – perhaps a vegetable soup or plain old chicken soup, but definitely not a day with creamy broth. Spoon the soup into a bowl, cut a piece of bread into cubes and drop the cubes in the soup, making sure they are fully submerged. Sprinkle mozzarella cheese on top and stick it in the microwave.


    Ice Cream and Marshmallow Melt
    Put marshmallows into a small bowl with a few chocolate chips, then microwave them. For your own safety, watch the microwave very closely and do not leave it during this step. Finally, top it off with a scoop of ice cream, which will complement your gooey warm marshmallows.

    Apple (kind of) Pie A La Mode
    This is fairly elf-explanatory. Grab an apple, slice it thinly, and arrange it in a small dish. Sprinkle brown sugar on it and microwave it. Finally, put a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream on top.

    This one is most definitely an oldie but a goodie. Just pick your favorite ice cream flavor, put it in a cup with some milk and stir! Top it off with whipped cream and sprinkles.


    Of course, no creative meal is complete without a creative beverage. Mix iced tea and lemonade for a classic Arnold Palmer, or slip some mints into your hot chocolate if you’re really missing Starbucks Peppermint Mochas.


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