College is hard. During midterm season, you might find yourself stuck in the library, cramming for organic chemistry until 2 am, when you realize that you've forgotten to eat all day. College is also hella expensive. When your bank account isn't looking too hot, you might find yourself reaching for that instant ramen... again. Well, I've got a creative way to solve your problems: Steal food from the dining hall. Well, it's not really stealing if it's one of those all you can eat/one swipe places. You pay a lot of tuition to attend college, and for the on-campus dining—they never said you had to actually eat it in the dining hall. Here are the 11 best foods to steal from the dining hall, without using another meal swipe.

1. Bananas

A classic, bananas are the ideal food to steal from the dining hall. It's one of the most nutritionally-dense foods that's also widely available, so you're guaranteed some sustainable energy. Plus, the peel serves as a natural and disposable container, so you won't have to worry about fitting it into tupperware or anything.

2. Granola 

Looking for something to munch on or a good topping for yogurt? Grab a to-go cup and fill it to the brim with granola. Sure, it might not be the healthiest snack option, but those thick chunks of granola hit the spot every single time.

3. Brownies

It's a known fact that brownies are the ultimate baked good. Plain brownies are great, fully-loaded brownies are amazing, I mean, you can't go wrong when you bite into a fudgey, chocolatey square. So, the next time you see some brownies in the pastry section of the dining hall, grab one and stash a couple in your pocket. You'll thank me later when you get major munchies

4. Cereal 

Whenever the dining hall has Cinnamon Toast Crunch, I flip out. I always forget how much I love cereal until it is in my field of vision. Don't be like me. Don't sleep on cereal. Get a to-go cup and lid, scoop some of your favorite cereal in there, and snack on it or save for tomorrow's breakfast.

5. Ice Cream

Power move: Grab an ice cream cone (doesn't matter the type; whichever you prefer), fill the bottom with Nutella to make for a Drumstick-like last bite, and go ham at the soft serve machine. Finish it off with a ridiculous amount of toppings (I personally like to crumble a cookie or brownie and sprinkle it). Walk out of the dining hall with no shame; you're truly unstoppable now.

6. A Sandwich 

On days where you have lab from 5 pm-7 pm and will miss dinner (because dining hall hours suck), do yourself a favor and prep a meal beforehand. After you're done eating lunch, go for the sandwich station and fill up your slices of bread with some protein, veggies or whatever you're feeling. 

7. Fries

There are some foods, I believe, that dining halls cannot mess up. Fries are one of those foods. They're simple, they're always delicious, and they have so many types that you'll never get bored. Sure, they might get soggy, but you can always reheat them like a pro to revitalize them.

8. Tea Bags

During this time of the school year, it's like everyone is sick. If you feel a cough coming on or if you're on the tail end of your illness, it's important to drink plenty of liquids. Tea has a ton of health benefits, but I don't know about you, but I'm not going to walk the mile to Trader Joe's to buy a packet of tea bags. Do yourself a service and swipe a few from the dining hall. That way, you'll accumulate a stash in your room that rivals any tea store.

9. Hot Cookie Bar

Hot Cookie Bar is the real reason why I am proud to attend Northwestern. For those of you who don't know what HCB is, I am so sorry that you haven't truly lived, but I am glad to enlighten you today. HCB is Northwestern's claim to fame. They're fresh-out-of-the-oven cookies served in trays that you scoop up and top with ice cream; your very own pizookie. On those days where you want to enjoy your HCB in peace, scoop a couple of those freshly-baked cookies in your container of choice and enjoy.

10. Mac and Cheese

pasta, sauce, cheese, macaroni, Mac And Cheese, Macaroni and cheese, spoonful
Julia Gilman

I'm dumb and I didn't invest in tupperware until this year, but I managed to smuggle mac and cheese out from the dining hall, and it was such a power move. If you're feeling desperate, grab a coffee cup, press it down with some delicious cheese pasta. Put a lid on it and you've got some carbs to fuel you till your next meal!

11. A Full Meal

When you're close to running out of meal swipes, bring out your biggest reinforcements and take home a full meal from the dining hall. It can be composed of whatever you want, but I suggest making it a balanced plate so you get your protein, fats, and carbs in for the day. 

So, go ahead, grab a banana when you're heading out the door, swipe a cookie, hell, even stash some pizza in your Tupperware. You'll get a snack or even a meal out of these hacks, and maybe even a funny story along with it.