I am kind of an expert at the whole cafeteria food thing considering I’ve been an involuntary member for way too long. Since Kindergarten, I have been forced to eat food from the cafeteria and I’ve gotten to be pretty good at it. So here are my top three do’s and dont’s of the cafeteria.

The Do's:

1. The salad bar is always your friend.

salad, vegetable
Jocelyn Hsu

I find that the part of the entire cafeteria that is the least gross is the salad bar. At most schools (hopefully yours), there is a large variety of vegetables and such that is available for you to toss into your salad. This gives you an opportunity to create any type of salad you want. So just shut your eyes and pretend you are at Sweet Green.

2. If you are uncertain about something, ask. 

egg, egg yolk, fried egg, omelet, chicken, yolk
Jocelyn Hsu

If you are not sure what something is, don’t laugh. It happens more than it should, so don’t hesitate to ask the lunch lady or even a stranger about what they think it is. If you ask a stranger, who knows, maybe you’ll bond over the fact that you are unable to identify a food and bam! See, you just found your new best friend bonding over cafeteria food.

3. Make friends with the chef.

broccoli, vegetable, carrot, cabbage, salad, cauliflower
Jocelyn Hsu

The best call I have ever made in my successful career of cafeteria food is making friends with the chef at my school. Even if you are having a rough day, make sure you say please and thanks and be friendly to the lunch ladies. Don’t pull a Piper from OITNB with Red. Through my experiences of befriending the chef, I have gotten extra cookies, special meals, and I am on the gluten-free meal option because it's much better.

The Don’ts:

1. Don't be afraid to try new things.

macaroni, pasta, spaghetti, cheese, cheddar, sauce, vegetable
Jocelyn Hsu

If you are headed down the hot food line and there's something for lunch that you have never tried before, go for it. What's the worst that can happen? If you like it for the first time at school, imagine how good it is at a restaurant. At some schools, they have very diverse food menus, so don't be afraid to try it out. You never know, you might actually like it.

2. Don't always judge food by how it appears.

toast, bread, wheat, cereal, rye, wheat bread
Jocelyn Hsu

Sometimes things look… gross. We all know it. There are some pretty nasty things that they try to get us to eat at school. The leftover lasagna from last year or last week's meat casserole, for example.

However, things definitely have the potential to look better than they taste. I promise, one time there was green stuff and I tried it and it was split pea soup and it was really good. So, moral of the story, if something looks gross, it still has the potential to taste amazing so dig in.

3. Don't go near the cold cuts.

Alison Sprong

Alright, trust me on this one, do NOT go for the cold cuts. The baloney, the salami, the slimy turkey… believe me, it's not worth the stomach ache all day. Trust me on this one.

So those are my do's and don'ts of the cafeteria. My school’s lunch happens to be edible but, if that's not the case for you, try packing a lunch the night before or at least some good snacks so you don’t go hungry.