I’ll admit it, I am a food snob. I love to cook and eat good food and often times, I would rather make my own food than go out because I like my food better. Obviously, living in the dorms, this isn’t exactly possible. Not only are there limited opportunities to cook, but residence hall food doesn’t always get the best rap for being delicious or nutritious. However, I quickly adapted to the food that was available and made it work for me. Here is my advice on how to maximize your dorm food experience:
- Maximize the salad bar. I am not talking about eating a salad every day, because that would quickly get old. Instead, use the wide variety of produce to create your own dishes. You may not know it, but RPS purchases produce from local farmers. When available, corn, peppers, squash, eggplant, and arugula, among other items come from sustainable sources. Some of my favorite salad bar creations included loading a sweet potato up with broccoli, spinach, tomatoes, and beans with a generous drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar for a healthy, vegetable-heavy alternative. Jazz up your pasta dish by adding spinach or broccoli.
- Get creative with the microwave. There are some questionable microwave meal hacks on Pinterest, but I found a few that are actually worth your time. One of my favorites is scrambled eggs. Eggs and milk are available in the C-store, and you can grab some salad bar goodies like broccoli or cheese to add in to make them even better. To make them, beat two eggs and 2 tablespoons of milk in a microwave safe bowl or coffee cup until blended and add your mix-ins. Then, microwave on high for 45 seconds, stir eggs and microwave for 45 more seconds. Enjoy!
- Mix and match. Don’t limit yourself to one concept station per meal. A favorite food trend of mine is avocado toast. In Wright Food Court, you can get a piece of toast from the grill, guacamole from the Mexican joint, and spinach, tomatoes, and a boiled egg from the salad bar. The result is something so good you’ll have forgotten it was from a dorm.
- Look for the signs. RPS is starting to label foods that are local. The closer food is eaten from where it was made, the fresher and tastier it will be. My favorite is the Scholar’s Inn Bakehouse bread that certain sandwiches are served on.
- Treat yo’ self with the good stuff. Everyone needs a treat or pick-me up every now and then. My go-to is chocolate. C-Stores carry a brand of chocolate called Endangered Species and it is way better than Hershey’s. Another bonus of this chocolate is that it supports the Rainforest Trust Fund that protects animal’s home and other conservation efforts so the goodness goes beyond the taste. (Editor’s Note: Endangered Species Chocolate is also an Indianapolis, Ind. based company, so you’re supporting your local economy too!)
If you’re a fellow foodie, don’t be dismayed. You may feel that the dorm will cramp your food style, but it actually gives you a great opportunity to be creative and use the limited resources you have to create new dishes.
If you are interested in food that not only tastes good, but is good for the environment, people that produce the food, and your body, check out the Real Food Challenge – IU group on Facebook!