You know there are tons of options in your dining hall. But what if nothing’s catching your eye? Do you miss cooking for yourself? Don’t despair – just look around an all-you-care-to-eat environment - there are tons of ingredients to spark your culinary creativity.
Have fun with potatoes! Grab a baked potato and double-stuff it with plain yogurt or sour cream, beans, onions, scallions, a pinch of bacon, celery, peppers, top with grated cheese and microwave. Add roasted potatoes to soups for a heartier meal. Top a green salad with a scoop of roasted potatoes and a sprinkle of cheese for a filling and healthy entrée. Check out the vegetarian station for bean and lentil stews that taste great in a baked potato.
Sweet potatoes are fun too! Get over to the ice cream toppings for nuts, maple syrup, and other toppings to make a great dessert!
Looking for more sweet treats? A little vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt in a glass of root beer makes a fantastic float. Don’t want to go old school? Experiment with different flavor combinations. Make your own fruit crisps. Cut up a fresh apple, or canned peaches from the salad bar. Top with granola, honey, nuts and a touch of butter. Microwave and enjoy.
Turn a soup into a stew with beans, greens, and grains from the salad bar. Add a chicken breast for a complete entrée. Do the same with pasta. Toss plain spaghetti or ziti with fresh spinach, diced tomatoes, red onion, green pepper, garbanzo beans and some fresh parmesan. Add a bit of Alfredo sauce for pasta primavera.
Make your own quesadillas. Grap a wrap or tortilla from the deli station along with a slice or two of cheese, and perhaps add some chicken or roasted vegetables. Add spinach, onion, tomato, and whatever catches your eye at the salad bar. Microwave or place in a panini press if available.
Feel like a home-made pizza bagel? Grab a bagel (or wrap or crusty roll), top with marinara sauce and shredded mozzarella from the salad bar. Microwave and enjoy! Feel free to make a veggie pizza too!
Looking for a different hot vegetable than what’s being served? Check out the salad bar. Steam those veggies in the microwave with a little bit of hot water or broth.
My personal favorite? DIY deviled eggs. Take a hard boiled egg and peel it if necessary. Cut in half, mash the yolks with mustard and hot sauce and a touch of mayo.
Share your dining hall hack ideas and photos on Instagram and be sure to tag mindful_by_sodexo. Now relax a little and let the chef do the cooking for you.
Beth Winthrop, MS, RD, CNSC; National Director for Wellness, Sodexo Campus Services.