The college dining halls will be one of the biggest differences from your life at home.
However, different does not always live up to its awful connotation. Dining halls are not exactly filled with retired chefs and grandmas who love you, and sometimes the food is not good. However, it is part of the college experience, and it is something you will be able to overlook.
Allergies can be an issue in the dining halls. Essentially, you will not know what is possibly in whatever they may be making; so tell the workers your allergies because they will know. That is one of the most important aspects to remember about the dining halls.
Dining halls also offer many options for food. Dining halls will most likely have a fresh salad and fruit bar and a deli. Your dining hall should offer options for vegetarians. Also, dining halls will likely have hamburger, hot dog and chicken fingers for more options.
However, the main course of dining halls will expand your culinary knowledge. Most of the items will cease to exist on menus at normal restaurants, and at times they may even be difficult to pronounce. You might even find yourself asking a dining hall employee “yeah, that stuff, can I have some of that.” The dishes may be something foreign that you can’t quite pronounce, and it might not be the best food in the world. However, it’s a chance to try new food for no additional cost.
Think of your dining hall as a cheap buffet. There are a lot of options and most of them will be bad. However, with that many choices you’re bound to like something every night. There will be food that is just too terrible for raccoons to even smell. Yet, there will be something you can eat to fill up on every day. Quantity is a big positive at the dining halls. There is virtually no limit to the amount of food you can eat.
Your college may have multiple dining halls with different menus every night, enhancing the options available. Some dining halls even specialize in vegetarian food, healthy food, fast food, fish, etc.
However, for the most part, the dining halls are not extremely healthy or nutritious. You can pursue a healthy diet through the dining hall; however, the main courses are not the healthiest.
A lot of schools also offer options with meal plans. Some schools allow students to use meal plans in markets to buy groceries, others offer food you can pick up, others allow students to use the meals in affiliated restaurants, etc. Most schools offer different types of meal plans in terms of how many meals a week and extra options. You should research your school’s meal plans thoroughly before buying one.
Beverages are one of the dining halls’ strong points. They will have enough juices and sodas available everyday to make your dentist squeal, or keep them all employed during the recession. And you can even grab three or four sodas at once if you want to. Also, the salad and fruit bars are well maintained at dining halls.
Deli, fruit and salad bars and cereal are the items that are likely to be available at every meal. So, you and the Cap’n can make it happen at any meal. Again, this gives students options. If a dining hall is serving German Goulash for a day - and the charcoal from the grill sounds more appetizing – then students can all chime in with Rice Krispies, making the dining hall sound like the 4th of July. Exception, the deli is usually closed for breakfast.
Most dining halls offer breakfast, lunch and dinner and are open seven days a week. However, some are closed on weekends.
The best part about the dining hall is not doing dishes, unless you work there. You simply eat your food, and put your tray into the kitchen; then you can return to your reign as NFL Blitz champion, or whatever else you do. A regular trip to the dining hall takes anywhere from 20-60 minutes, depending on how crowded it is, and how much you want to eat.
Essentially, eating at the dining hall is not like a home-cooked meal. The dining hall chefs don’t know your favorite ingredients, and how you love cinnamon on everything. And if they did know, they would not care. The dining halls are not as bad as you might think, and they will have a plethora of food to choose from. So, you will surely find something edible. Who knows, your dining halls might actually serve good food. You should ask people currently at the school you will be attending about the food. They will give you an honest answer.