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Tufts Dining Hall Hacks

Tufts-Cafe[1]

While the majority of Tufts students matriculated to the university in order to pursue the education of their dreams, few can deny that the dining services were not an added bonus. Unlike most colleges and universities, Tufts does not outsource their dining services. Instead, we place an immense value in our commitment to a solid and enjoyable culinary experience, and provide an intense variety of food in our two main dining halls: Dewick and Carmichael. And while the debate between which of these buildings are better may never die, regardless of where you place your allegiance there are a few tricks of the college dining hall trade that you need to be filled in on. For current students, prospective students, and even those of us who have too much seniority (literally) to bother with a meal plan these tips are still worth a look. So let’s get down and talk about some Tufts Dining Hall Hacks!

1. Panini everything.

Thank Anthony Monaco (and all of his predecessors) for making sure we have panini presses! But now it’s your chance to actually take advantage of them. While panini-fying your deli sandwich is a great idea (mm the way that cheese melts over your sliced turkey) spice.it.up. I’m talking PB&Js, 4-cheese-grilled-cheeses, Nutella and bananas, even your waffles.

2. Tilt your iced coffee.

Want that French Vanilla iced coffee without having to bleed your wallet and make the trek to the Dunkin’ Donuts on Boston Ave? Have no fear, just make sure to fill your plastic beverage cup with a little under 2/3 full of ice and tilt it as you pour the coffee in so that the ice itself doesn’t immediately melt and your left with watered down coffee that’s worse than Starbucks (oops!)

3. Sauce up your stir fry.

We all know that moment. You’ve waited almost thirty minutes for stir fry and it is only now, as the young man is staring you in the face and the thousands (okay, okay, twenty) people behind you are getting flustered and impatient that you don’t know – peanut sauce or teriyaki??? Have no fear, you can order both! Still not satisfied? Get a third or throw on a Sriracha – the stir fry is your oyster.

4. Where’s the guac?

In desperate need of guacamole for that salad, makeshift burrito, etc. but the station at Carm isn’t up? Have no fear, 85% of the time you can find some by the burger station in between the grilled burgers and the entrées, yum!

Pretty sure it's chemically impossible to not like this stuff (Source: http://yourbellalife.com/caramelized-guacamole/)

Pretty sure it’s chemically impossible to not like this stuff (Source: http://yourbellalife.com/caramelized-guacamole/)

5. Reallocate “Sunday sundae” toppings.

Who’s to tell you that you can only keep your chocolate chips and M&Ms to your ice cream? Fight the man, destroy the system, be who you want to be! If you want to make chocolate-chip banana bread or throw some candied chocolates into your yogurt DO IT, you only get these toppings twice a week (Thursdays and Sundays) so milk them for all they’re worth.

So many toppings, why limit them just to ice cream? (Source: http://www.rachelswartley.com/2012/06/19/summer-kickoff-party-2012/)

So many toppings, why limit them just to ice cream? (Source: http://www.rachelswartley.com/2012/06/19/summer-kickoff-party-2012/)

6. Grab dessert first.

Especially the 3 cakes: carrot, red velvet, and cheesecake. Those hot items go like wild fire so if you see them laying out, claim them as your own and bring them back to safe base: your table. It’s not like they’re going to become stale lying there and you luck out by having your taste buds bask in the sweet flavors of these solid desserts.

Be shameless. Own your dessert. (Source: http://bakedbree.com/marshmallow-buttercream-frosting)

Be shameless. Own your dessert. (Source: http://bakedbree.com/marshmallow-buttercream-frosting)

7. Microwave those cookies.

15 seconds. Goes from fairly-soft-I-guess to gooey perfection. Trust me.

8. Spice up yo pasta.

Yeah, for all of my raving sometimes you get played a bland card. Either there’s nothing to eat and you’re going to the plain pasta bar, or the pasta choice that’s out is rather lackluster. Look, this isn’t a bad thing this is an opportunity! Go to the salad bar, throw in some peas, add some meat and let the juices sink in, use on of the specialty sauces, and – one of my favorite hacks – go to the burger bar in Carm and lather your pasta in the sautéed mushrooms! You are an artist, this is your chance, create!

9. Salad bowl shake.

Very straight forward: make your salad, grab an extra bowl, sit down, put the bowls together, shake your salad up, return salad to single bowl, enjoy your well mixed dish.

10. Parfait.

Dewick has a sick variety of granola to the left of the cereal bar! Use some fruit (particularly the Sunday brunch strawberries) grab some yogurt and layer in that dining hall cup until you’ve created something delectable and beautiful. And remember: layers!

Words of wisdom (Source: http://www.quickmeme.com/Donkey-Parfait)

Words of wisdom (Source: http://www.quickmeme.com/Donkey-Parfait)

11. Sweeten (and health-ify) your cereal with almond milk.

Cheerios tasting a bit bland? Want to sweeten your Rice Krispies but in a nuanced way that doesn’t mean directly pouring in sugar? Well go to the fridge (by the deli in Carm and where the whipped cream is stored in between the desserts in Dewick) and grab some almond milk. You won’t notice a huge taste difference but you will get a nutty sweet quality that adds an interesting flavor to your run-of-the-mill cereal. On top of that, it has 50% more calcium than milk and unsaturated fat!

12. Float away.

We have a soft serve ice cream machine. We have a soda machine. I repeat: soft serve ice cream machine. Soda machine. See where I’m going with this?

Yes, it's better with hard ice cream but that doesn't mean vanilla soft serve (especially Dewick's Edy's brand) won't do the trick! (Source: http://msfizz.sodastreamusa.com/2010/07/09/guilt-free-root-beer-float/)

Yes, it’s better with hard ice cream but that doesn’t mean vanilla soft serve (especially Dewick’s Edy’s brand) won’t do the trick! (Source: http://msfizz.sodastreamusa.com/2010/07/09/guilt-free-root-beer-float/)

13. Bagels aren’t just for cream cheese.

Pizza. Bagels. Pizza. Bagels. Pizza bagel! Pasta sauce, deli-cheese bar, parmesan sprinkles, red pepper flakes, salad bar toppings. Use the bagel slicer, and then either toast separately or put it in the presser! Mmm.

'Twas the best picture I could find which means it's up to you to make something more spectacular! (Source: http://www.wikihow.com/Make-a-Pizza-Bagel)

‘Twas the best picture I could find which means it’s up to you to make something more spectacular! (Source: http://www.wikihow.com/Make-a-Pizza-Bagel)

14. Make a trail mix.

From cereals to nuts, raisins to chocolate chips. fresh fruits to granola… Experiment! Throw a bunch of things into a bowl and munch while you do some work in Carm, see what you like, ditch what you don’t until you finally perfect your own unique trail mix blend.

Dare to be different. With your trail mix only obv, try to remain a clone of the mediocre human in all other regards! Kidding, of course, let that trail mix be as individual as you are readers! (Source: http://www.pbs.org/parents/kitchenexplorers/2011/05/17/hit-the-trails-with-homemade-trail-mix/)

Dare to be different. With your trail mix only obv, try to remain a clone of the mediocre human in all other regards! Kidding, of course, let that trail mix be as individual as you are readers! (Source: http://www.pbs.org/parents/kitchenexplorers/2011/05/17/hit-the-trails-with-homemade-trail-mix/)

15. Be classy.

Are you about that restaurant life? Want to take that special someone on a dining hall date they’ll never forget? Then go to the tea station, pick up a sliced lemon and use it as a garnish for your water or Pepsi. You’ll be the slickest student around.

16. Cinnamon.

Also by the tea station, you will find cinnamon powder. Put it on your waffles, in your apple sauce, on your cereal, in your hot cocoa, etc. This is your chance to ~literally~ spice things up.

17. Carpe diem. 

The best advice I can give you all though is to just seize your dining day. Life, particularly college, is much too short to eat the same three meals on repeat; particularly when we’re so fortunate enough to have all these wonderful and exciting options at our disposal. Meal time shouldn’t be a drag, it’s a time for personal innovation, a break from math homework and IR lectures and a chance to create something special for yourself. Try everything and anything, if it fails you have plenty more opportunities. Trust me, it’s worth it, because nothing is more rewarding than a delicious and innovative meal that you created.

- Lauren Samuel

Cover photo source.

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