For freshmen, last year the cafeteria was a microcosm of the high school experience. Highly structured, incredibly repetitive and filled with food whose pictures we refused to put in the article for the sake of your stomach.

But now, college is here to save the day. And for a measly $6,300 annualized we get this:

And this:

And this:

Freedom! But after a month of eating the same food from the same dining hall every night, it starts to feel as though you are eating the same grilled chicken every single night.

But never fear - there is still hope.

There are many hacks to make meals at Northwestern something you look forward to everyday. Here is what you need to know to make the Northwestern Dining system your b*tch.

1. Don't eat at the same dining hall day after day.

I know it's hard. Sargent, or Elder, or Allison . . . they are so close. You don't have to search for friends at these local dining halls, let alone brave the freezing winters that plague Evanston from November to April. But in order to escape dining hall monotony, go to Norris once in a while and spend an equivalency meal. Or even pass by Plex (east or west). You'll thank me.

2. Look at the Northwestern Dining Hall Online Menu.

Trust me, it exists. It actually exists. The entire menu is placed online, within reach, at your fingertips. Just google, 'Northwestern Dining Hall Menu' and the first hit will tell you what you need to know. Eating dinner at Sargent will no longer be Russian Roulette.

3. Pay attention to the Special Food Nights.

Believe it or not, there has already been a few steak nights in Sargent, Italian week at Norris, a barbecue pop-up restaurant in Plex, Sushi Night in Elder and Lobster Night in Allison. How do I know this? There are literal signs up in all of the dining halls and a food calendar for special events in Norris. Don't miss these special events. They're almost always straight fire.

4. Go to Plex.

If you don't know what I'm talking about when I mention Plex, then I am very happy that you are reading this article. At least once each week, Plex West has a 'make your own pasta' day and a 'make your own burrito' day. Plex East is always interesting having a diverse range of meals from curry to stir fry.

5. Hot Cookie Bar.

It has been a quarter. You should know about this by now. If you were not aware, then cookie bar is in Elder every Thursday and in all other dining halls every Friday. Don't miss it.

6. Know the value of Simple Servings.

Ever see that small line between the vegan section and main buffet in Sargent, or that small station in the corner of Allison? That is Simple Servings. The food is healthy, portioned to be the size a meal should be, and often better-tasting than the main options offered in the dining hall. Check it out sometime, and make it a regular dinner choice.

7. Always use your Equivalency Meals.

Whether it's at Lisa's or a Norris restaurant or the lesser known Fran's and Einstein Brothers' Bagels, always use your equivalency meals to change up the routine. It may be a nice change to not gorge yourself on the all-you-can-eat buffets in the dining halls.

#SpoonTip: Note that the restaurants at Norris often charge $1 - $2 above the cost of an equivalency meal ($7.00). 

8. Save your equivalency points for drinks and overages on equivalency meals.

I know it is tempting to spend points on a whole meal when you are out of equivalency meals. Instead keep the points and use them for all the overages on equivalencies meals, and all the coffees, milkshakes and smoothies that you are craving at the moment.