Dear fellow freshmen that are bound to the Penn dining halls by meal plans: it’s time to get creative. Tired of the mystery mush that always sits lukewarm in McClelland Hall? Same here. I’m happy to introduce you to your new best friend, the oft-overlooked panini press. Swap that iffy looking stir fry for a homemade grilled cheese. Simply take two pieces of toast from the pastry section (I prefer the country potato bread), butter both sides generously and finish with a drizzle of olive oil. Then, take a handful of shredded cheddar from the salad bar, sandwich it together with your two slathered slices, and simply grill it on the panini press until grill lines appear across the bread. The cheese will be nice and melty and the bread will be crisp. Want to go gourmet? Try adding sliced tomatoes from the salad bar to create another layer of flavor.
The sandwich station at the Hill dining hall is also consistently on the back burner. I’ve found a way to create a spin on one of my personal favorite sandwiches from home. Grab a helping of the caramelized onions from the grill line and slice up an apple from the fruit station.
Layer these on whole wheat bread with turkey, ham, provolone, and spinach leaves and slap the whole sandwich on the panini press.
Soon you’ll see that the dining halls are just waiting for you to use your creative juices and explore them. Mixing and matching ingredients from different stations solves the daily problem of monotonous food, and lets you put your own culinary chops to the test.