Diners, Drive-Ins, And Dining Halls: Spicing Up Your College Diet

After a few weeks of strictly eating at the dining hall, perhaps you’ve found that the original excitement of trying the wide variety of food options offered at the commons has fizzled, and you’re stuck debating what to eat for dinner. The meals you enjoy have been occurring less frequently, and the ones you don’t like have been the only thing you’ve seen on Penn State Go.

In case you’re looking to shake things up, we came up with six quick and easy ~recipes~ to help spice up your dining hall diet. These dishes consist of ingredients from the commons and the only appliance necessary is a microwave, so these are 100% dorm-approved.

Happy dining!

Dessert Waffles

After talking to other dining hall-goers, the consensus is that the dining hall breakfast is consistently the best meal, with the lion-shaped waffles being a fan favorite.

While you can’t improve what’s already perfect, you can certainly add some Creamery ice cream and whipped cream to it. Now, your basic breakfast is a tasty, sugary treat for the stressed and depressed student.

Buffalo Chicken Dip

Need a last-minute dish for the gameday potluck?

Well, you’re in luck! Dining hall grilled chicken is probably the one constant throughout your residence hall experience, and it works perfectly for buffalo chicken dip.

Make sure to load your to-go containers with grilled chicken, run to the commons grocery store for cream cheese, hot sauce, and ranch dressing, then get to cooking!

Steak Rice Bowls

This is probably the holy grail of food hacks.

Like the buffalo chicken dip, load your to-go container with the steak and tons of pepper sauce. When you get home, start cooking rice in a rice cooker. If you don’t have a rice cooker, don’t fret! You can buy instant rice from the commons store or McLanahan’s or at any Asian market downtown.

Mix your ingredients in a bowl (or whatever dishes you may have collecting dust in your dorm), add soy sauce packets for extra flavor, and enjoy!

The steak in this recipe is interchangeable, so feel free to experiment with the other meat options for some ~variety.~

Poutine Or Chili Fries

Who doesn’t love carbs?

Similar to grilled chicken, fries are another dining hall constant. Fill a container with peppercorn sauce (or turkey gravy) and fries. If fries are unavailable in the buffet, you can always grab them at Flipps or Redifer City Grill.

Add your shredded cheese of choice for optimal comfiness and dig in.

Bonus: The dining halls also serve chili during the colder months. Chili fries, anyone?

Ice Cream Cookies

We have to admit –most of the dining hall desserts are pretty tasty. However, whenever we look at the cookies, we see wasted potential.

With the addition of the scoop-your-own ice cream station instead of the individual ice cream cups, it’s easy to sandwich a scoop between two cookies or brownies of choice and enjoy an easy dessert.

Root Beer Floats

If you want a lunchtime pick-me-up or after-dinner treat, fill up a cup with root beer and throw in a scoop of ice cream.

But, who’s stopping you from branching out? Who knows, maybe Sierra Mist and Peachy Paterno are a good combo.

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About the Author

Marie Moyer

Marie is a fourth-year student majoring in journalism and minoring in sociology. She loves being fiscally irresponsible at local farmers markets, watching niche documentaries on HBO, and going to Penn State hockey games as "self-care." You can reach her on Instagram - @_mariemoyer_ or send her suggestions (and cat photos) via her email - [email protected].

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