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How To Spice Up Your Dining Hall Experience

It’s no secret that, when edible, dining hall food is bland, boring, and hardly something you enjoy eating — especially when it’s pretty much been your exclusive source of nourishment for the past six months.. For those looking to spruce things up a little, here are a few ways to turn your two-star meal into something that will make you not dread the long lines just to swipe your Penn State ID.

Root Beer Float

Creamery ice cream in the dining hall is perhaps the single biggest reason Penn Staters struggle with the “freshman 15.” When you’re scooping your own in the commons, you can actually mix flavors, which never stops feeling like some type of practical magic.

You probably won’t get sick of ice cream, but that doesn’t mean you can’t look for ways to make your dairy consumption a little more creative. When the dining hall is serving vanilla, a float is the way to go. Grab a glass, add scoops of vanilla ice cream, and fill the rest with a soda of your choosing. You can’t go wrong.

Waffle Sundaes

The weekend buffet kindly offers a waffle maker to use as you please. Consider topping it off with some ice cream, whipped cream, or some fruit from the line. The waffle mix is comparable to that of waffle house but with the Penn State logo stamped on top. The logo is backwards, but it’s the thought that counts, right?

Breakfast Hash

Grab some eggs, bacon, your favorite sauces, cheese, and a few veggies. Mix all of it together and you have a countryside favorite, hash. Traditionally there are sautéed vegetables mixed in, but we’ll have to make do with what we have. People usually like to eat hash on a piece of toast or English muffin, so consider turning it into a finger food by throwing it on top.

Breakfast Sandwiches

Sometimes, the dining hall serves breakfast sandwiches. However, they’re often cold, soggy, and a little gross. We recommend making your own to top off your breakfast. The weekend buffet usually has eggs, meat, and bagels that you can toast yourself. This weekend, throw them all together and make your own sandwich. It’s no Irving’s, but it’ll do.

Ice Cream Sandwiches

Make yet another sandwich, but this time with ice cream. Grab two cookies from the dessert bar and put as much ice cream in between as they can handle. This will save you from purchasing an overpriced frozen sandwich from the market, and the cookies might even be fresh if you’re lucky (or if you’re in West).

Cereal Mixup

One of the most underrated aspects of the buffet is the cereal bar. With a plethora of options, something to try is mixing up cereals. Depending what they have available you have endless options. Some popular ones are: Rice Krispies and Cheerios, Cap’n Crunch and Fruity Pebbles, Cocoa Pebbles and Reese’s Puffs, and Lucky Charms and Cinnamon Toast Crunch.

Yogurt Parfait

On the buffet they almost always have yogurt. Add some extra fruit and granola on top and you can make a parfait better than the prepackaged ones from Starbucks or the market. Making it yourself allows you to avoid the traditional soggy yogurt-soaked fruit that has been sitting in the to go fridge for three days now.

Chick-fil-A Sauce

The perfect combination of honey mustard and barbecue sauce can get you dangerously close to having the legendary sauce whenever you want. Thankfully both of these choices are at just about every dining hall in the condiment dispensers.

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About the Author

Corrin Smucker

Corrin is double majoring in Spanish and Public Relations here at Penn State and is minoring in International Business. She is always excited to share with readers all Penn State has to offer, and what makes it the greatest school on the East Coast (or even the nation).

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