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Get the most out of every dining hall swipe

<p>Mark Gulick, a manager at Neilson Dining Hall, was transferred out of the Brower Dining Commons on Monday, but employees at the facility say he needs to return.</p>

Mark Gulick, a manager at Neilson Dining Hall, was transferred out of the Brower Dining Commons on Monday, but employees at the facility say he needs to return.

It’s very easy to get stuck in the same old rut at school, eating that same sad lunch at the dining hall every day, so much so that you begin to even dread just the walk to Brower. Do not fret, because there are some tips, tricks and dining hall hacks to take that lunch from barely edible to epic.

Get Creative

You are only as limited in the dining hall as you make your plate to be. It’s all about working with what you have and getting creative for your next meal.

Tired of just topping your salad with grilled chicken? Try making your own burrito bowl. Fill up your bowl or plate with brown or white rice. Then, add your protein, like grilled chicken or tofu, and go crazy with toppings: tomato, salsa, sour cream, anything you can get your hands on. It may not be up to Chipotle quality, but at least you aren’t paying Chipotle prices.

For even more inspiration, venture toward the panini press for your own grilled cheese or even make your own breakfast burrito. After all, who said you can’t put your own spin on breakfast takeout? When it comes to spicing up your meals, it’s really about considering your staple options of what is always going to be offered in the dining hall. Use that to find inspiration for some of your favorite foods.

Treat Yourself — Just Desserts

The sweetest meal of the day is dessert. We all know the dining hall has the trusty go-to ice cream bar, but how about taking your sweet treat to the next level?

A popular dessert creation is using the waffle maker to create a waffle base to top with your favorite ice cream flavor followed by drizzled Nutella on top. But it doesn’t have to stop there. 

Next time you are trying to destress from exams and looking for some comfort food, try a soda float. Grab a cup and your favorite scoop of ice cream, fill it with Rootbeer or Coke, and you can make a New Brunswick dining hall feel like you just ordered a float from the drive-in.

Or if that doesn’t float your boat, you can always make your own chipwhich. Grab two cookies and layer a scoop of ice cream between them. You can’t feel bad about a cheat day when dessert can be this good!

Healthy Options

This dining hall hack is plain and simple thanks to the new juice bars offered at Livingston and Neilson Dining Halls. The smoothie bars operate Monday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 pm and 6 p.m to 8 p.m, according to the RU Healthy Dining Team.

The juice and smoothie bars always offer three types of smoothies and three types of juices, but you can even ask for season specials, like pumpkin or gingerbread. 

A go-to healthy snack tip would always be to swipe some fruit, like apples or bananas, from the dining hall. Maybe keep some peanut butter in the fridge, so you can use it as a topping for a sliced up apple from the comforts of your own dorm.

When in Doubt, Meal Swipe Out

We all know that dining hall cuisine is not the highlight of university life, but thanks to Rutgers' latest additions this year, there are many more delicious places accepting meal swipes if you really need some variety.

1) Henry’s Diner on Livingston campus — This is the greatest thing that ever happened to Rutgers, second only to the new Double LX buses. The diner aesthetic and the huge menu create the perfect dinner spot.

2) Harvest Café on Cook campus — Speaking of delicious smoothies, if you order a smoothie from harvest, it includes two nutritional boosts like peanut butter, chia seeds or protein powder, according to the RU Healthy Dining team.

3) Woody’s Cafe on Busch campus — Woody’s offers a variety of snacks, ice cream and even a create your own wrap and sandwich station. All for one meal swipe.

I urge you all to try some of these dining hall hacks or try a new dining hall creation. And if inspiration doesn’t strike, you can always eat out!

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