After being a frequenter of the campus cafeteria, I understand how having the same variety of food offered for a whole year can get tiring. I’ve also learned a thing or two about mixing it up to make the foods they offer a little more exciting. Use your dining hall like a boss with these fun college dining hall hacks.

Breakfast Dining Hall Hacks

1. Sun-Butter Banana Toast

Dessert, chocolate, cookie and biscuit | HD photo by IHSSAN RAMI AZOUAGH (@_irastudio_) on Unsplash

Unsplash on Unsplash

Toast a slice or two of bread, add a nut or seed butter, sliced bananas, cinnamon (at the oatmeal station), and honey (at the coffee station). If you want some crunch, add granola too (at the oatmeal station)! Mmmmhmm. 

2. Breakfast Hash

hash, bacon, egg, potato
Alex Vu

Mix together some of their breakfast regulars to make for a more exciting start to the day. Grab their hash browns, 2-3 sausage links (any meat will do), scrambled eggs, and shredded cheddar cheese (normally found at the salad bar. If not, grab a slice of cheese at the deli station and chop it up). Add any extra veggies you like–I think bell peppers would go nicely. Make sure to top it off with some sriracha or hot sauce for an exciting kick. If there’s not enough flavor, add some salt and pepper.  

3. Yogurt Parfait

Fruit and Yogurt | HD photo by Peter Hershey (@peterhershey) on Unsplash

Unsplash on Unsplash

This one you may know well, but it's so good I had to include. Simple ingredients combined for a special treat. Plain Greek yogurt topped with granola (I like to go lean crunch– it's not so sweet), cinnamon for good measure, plenty of sliced bananas and berries (if available), and a drizzle of honey. Morning made. 

#spoontip: you can do the same thing with oatmeal, if you're not a fan of yogurt, just replace yogurt with oatmeal. When I do this, I'll sometimes add some milk (depending on consistency) and normally I add a little less granola. 

Lunch Dining Hall Hacks

1. Southwest "Burrito Bowl"

This is almost as good as Chipotle. Who doesn't love a build-your-own burrito bowl? I have only gotten to do this a couple of times–when the salad bar gods are in my favor–but always keep an eye out. Start with a bed of lettuce of choice, rice (there’s always rice at one station at least), black beans, sweet potato, cheese, red onions, corn, tomatoes, and cilantro (from the soup station). Feel free to add chicken or whatever else you desire. Top with dressing of choice (preferably not a sweet one). 

2. Turkey Pesto Bagel

cheese, sandwich, bread, bagel
Sarah Adler

Grab an everything bagel and put the halves in the toaster until it gets lightly toasted. Butter her up real good. Add pesto, turkey, cheese (white, provolone or mozzarella is best) and stick it into the panini press until cheese is melty. If desired, tomato and spinach would go nicely. Bagel of champions. 

3. Condiments galore

Christin Urso

Less of a meal, more of a pro tip for whatever you decide. Condiments are your best friends. If something is a little dry or needs a boost, don't miserably attempt to finish it anyways... hit up the condiments. Emory's cafeteria offers a pretty good selection.  If my grilled chicken is too try or bland, I'll add hummus or some of the sauces at the deli station (Pesto, chipotle mayo, honey mustard, sweet and sour sauce are all great options).

Snacks and Sweets Dining Hall Hacks

1. Ultimate Ice Cream Sandwich

ice, ice cream, sandwich, cream, cookie, cake
Julia Hedelman

Take 2 chocolate chip cookies, vanilla or chocolate ice cream (whatever you’re feeling), and use a spoon to spread the ice cream on top of one cookie, and the other cookie to sandwich it all together. If you’re feeling crazy, get some sprinkles or crushed Oreos and roll the master sandwich in it for good measure. No better way to top the day off. 

2. Ice Cream with Waffle Cone

cream, ice cream, ice, chocolate, Black sesame, lychee, taro, Sundays and Cones
Rica Beltran

This sounds crazy but stick with me. Make a waffle, butter it up, then stick it in the panini press, and press it down good. Wait until it gets crunchy (but not burnt! Keep checking on it). Then pull it out, top it with your favorite gelato/icecream and go ham on the toppings. 

3. Root Beer Float

Cup of root beer. A scoop of vanilla ice cream. Mix it up by throwing it back to with timeless classic.

3. DIY Snack Mix

nut, sweet, dried fruit, almond, cereal, walnut, raisin, granola
Sophie Pinton

Always bring a Ziploc bag with you whenever you go to the dining hall so you can take something to go! Get a bowl and add a little of this and a little of that to make for a satisfying (free!) snack for when the hunger strike hits you later so you don't curb to other temptations. I like mixing goldfish, sunflower seeds, raisins, and cheerios or go lean crunch. 

Whether you frequent the cafeteria on campus or are more of a once in a blue moon kinda person, these college dining hall hacks are sure to come in handy, and will even help on saving a few extra dollars.