June 18, 2019 | 72° F

Dining hall "hacks," recipes for when Brower gets boring

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"Diners, Drive-ins and Dives": Some of us drool at chef Guy Fieri’s Food Network adventures, but in college, our reality is more like dining halls, take-out and RU Express. Although you may not travel the country and try  gourmet foods like Fieri, the dining halls at Rutgers can be (almost) as good if you know how to work the system. It can be disappointing walking into the dining hall knowing that your fate is the same boring meal every time, and it sucks knowing you’re wasting your expensive meal swipe on a meal you won’t even love. If you go to Brower Commons on a regular basis, you definitely know this feeling. If you’re really looking to get the best bang for your buck and take your taste buds to “Flavortown,” check out these dining hall hacks.


A classic and quick breakfast is a hearty bowl of cereal, and Rutgers provides a variety of healthy cereals in the dining hall. By healthy, we also mean boring: you know, like Cheerios, Special K, Rice Krispies and Mini Wheats. Amplify your average bowl of cereal by adding in some slices of banana and a scoop of Nutella, and topping it off with a sprinkle of cinnamon. This is also applicable to a bowl of oatmeal.

Speaking of fruit, dining halls tend to have a lot of waste throughout the semesters. Instead of spending extra cash on organic fruit at ShopRite, try taking a few pieces of fruit back to your residence hall. By doing so, you not only save money, but you have a few snacks for class. 

Lunch & Dinner

If you miss those after school Bagel Bites, they can easily be recreated at Brower. Grab a bagel and drizzle it with marinara sauce from the pasta station. You can sprinkle on some mozzarella cheese from the salad station, as well as some veggies, such as spinach and olives. The sandwich station also typically has pesto sauce, so drizzle that on for extra flavor. Pop it in the microwave or oven at the sandwich station and voila: a gourmet pizza bagel, except not bite-sized. 

Another great lunch option that’s different from your typical sub sandwich is a buffalo chicken quesadilla. Chop up a chicken breast from the salad station and load a wrap with cheese and hot sauce. With some bleu cheese or ranch on the side, you’ll feel like you brought Hansel ‘n Griddle to the dining hall.

The RU dining halls have pretty decent salad bars, and if you're not looking for a cheesy, carb overload, it's a go-to destination for a fast and healthy alternative. If you are tired of your usual grilled chicken and spinach salad,  try creating a burrito bowl. By adding some white or brown rice and a protein like chicken or tofu, along with guacamole and sour cream from the condiments bar, you can create your very own Chipotle burrito bowl. 


Not only do some of the University's dining halls offer a wide variety of ice cream flavors, there are also plenty of topping options fit for an ultimate sundae. Waffles aren’t just for breakfast, either: with Nutella, chocolate sauce, fruit jam and other toppings from the ice cream station, such as Oreo crumbles, you can create a loaded breakfast that’s more like dessert. Thankfully, the gym is open late.


Although we won’t find alcoholic libations in the dining halls anytime soon, there’s also plenty of variety in the beverage department to mix up some delicious mocktails. Here are just a few sweet concoctions that can make a normal meal at Brower feel like a celebration. 

Devils: grape, cranberry, apple

Blood Orange: grape, orange, passion fruit, guava

Flamingo: cranberry, strawberry-banana 

Tropical Paradise: Sprite, orange guava passion fruit

Bubble Tea: black tea, French vanilla creamer 

With a little creativity, you can make your meal at the dining hall worth swiping for. By experimenting instead of settling, you can easily make a meal at the dining hall taste Guy-Fieri approved.

Elizabeth Leoce

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