After a long day of constantly climbing up and down the Smith stairs, sitting through a GB class that seems never ending, and attending a group project meeting, the best way to end the day is to swipe into the 921 and enjoy a hearty dinner with friends. Sometimes, the entrée options are enticing, but more often than not, I am left heaping random items on my plate and leaving the dining hall unsatisfied and disappointed. After constantly watching one of my dear friends create unique and appetizing salads for each meal, I decided to take her approach and build myself a perfect salad. With some creativity and practice, I was able to master the art of building the perfect 921 salad.

Build your Base 

spinach, vegetable, salad, lettuce, basil, relish, herb
Kristine Mahan

Naturally, the first step of the process is to choose between the classic iceberg or spring mix. You cannot go wrong with either choice, as it all comes down to personal preference. 

Explore Toppings from the Other Food Stations

salad, carrot
Elizabeth Barker

Once you have got your base in place, in addition to your choice of veggies from the first half of the salad bar, it is time to go beyond the bar and explore the other meal options offered. Adding a piece of meat or grilled chicken can easily make your meal heartier. Try looking for additional vegetables offered at the other food stations. The simple section is where I usually have the best luck. Sometimes the pasta station has items, such as mini meatballs and grilled vegetables that can make a salad pop. This step requires a little more effort, so don’t be afraid to be creative and keep your eyes peeled for out-of-the-box add-ons. 

Don’t Forget the Other Half of the Salad Bar!

More often than not, I would often neglect to scope out the other half of the salad bar since it is home to the fruit and other various items. The other half contains croutons, cheese, and other unique toppings that add a whole other dimension to your meal. 

Explore Beyond the Basic Salad Dressings

whisky, wine, alcohol, beer, liquor
Betsy Chilcoat

Sometimes the classic Caesar or ranch dressing does the trick when dressing your salad. But when there are various oils and vinegars offered at the end of the second half of the bar, all it takes is some brainstorming to come up with a distinctive dressing for your meal. Not a fan of that? Try a little bit of the barbecue sauce and honey mustard offered for the fried foods

Are the options just not cutting it for you?

lettuce, pepper, tomato, vegetable, salad
Erin Arnold

There’s no rule that says that you can’t bring in your own fixings. One hack that I learned from my mother is to bring my own salad dressing. I’m able to exactly choose how I want to top off my meal, in addition to saving a few calories, as I am in control of what is going on top. Maybe if you’ve been lucky enough to make a trip to the grocery store, you can snag a few avocados to complement your meal. You can even bring in nuts as a healthier substitute to croutons.

It can be very difficult to construct a delicious and pleasant looking meal at the 921. All it takes to make your meal go from boring to bold is using the salad bar as a base and building off from there. Go beyond the bar and use creativity so you can leave the 921 with a full belly and a feeling of satisfaction.