If you've ever taken an economics course, you've probably learned that nothing in life is free (opportunity cost, and all that fun stuff.) But, when your dining hall fails you with mediocre meatloaf and lukewarm pizza, I have a solution: buffalo chicken dip. All it takes is a meal plan, some discretion, and a few to-go cups cups (or Tupperware...thanks mom) to make this microwave-friendly snack by only using ingredients sourced from your school's dining hall.

Plus, is it still considered "stealing" if you're paying thousands of dollars for tuition and meal plans?

I have some connections to the buffalo chicken dip spy world that give James Bond a run for his money. So if you're ready to handle such a covert operation, put on your ski masks and channel your inner Spy Kids. It's showtime.

1. Step One: Gather Your Team

Gather a group of friends to accompany you on your heist (or a mission for deliciousness, if you prefer).  You've got a lot of stations to conquer, and you could use all the help you can get.

Make sure your team is equipped with the proper Tupperware, disposable coffee cups, or any other vessel that can hold ingredients for your dip. I recommend using coffee cups for liquid ingredients like ranch and hot sauce, but save Tupperware containers for the chicken and cheese. Also, make sure your outfit has plenty of pockets for maximum storage.

Now you're ready. Go to the caf, divide, and conquer. 

2. Step Two: Collect Your Ingredients 

First Victim: Cream Cheese (8 oz.)

At least at Fordham, our caf has an entire station for bagels 24/7 (because New York bagels are the best). Within that station, there are single-serving cream cheese tubs. For one serving of buffalo chicken dip, you need 8 oz. of cream cheese. Check your caf's cream cheese sizing, but you'll probably need about eight single serving cups. Grab a few extra, just in case.

Next Up: Cheddar Cheese

Locate your school's Mexican/taco/burrito or salad station. With to-go cups in hand (or a ziplock bag), ask for some cheddar cheese, but really, any kind will work. Cheddar is just my personal preference, but mozzarella is always a good choice, or try pepper jack if you want a little bit more spice.

You may get a weird look for exclusively asking for a cup of cheese as your meal, but play it cool and act natural. This is a crucial step in your plan.

The Star of the Show: Chicken (~1.5 cups)

You can't have buffalo chicken dip without chicken (unless you're a vegetarian/vegan). No matter what school you go to, chicken is an integral part of any cafeteria. Whether it's grilled, fried, or baked, anything that slightly resembles chicken breast will work. Though, try not to use chicken that has been over-processed or over-seasoned.

Order some chicken tenders or ask for a few pieces of grilled chicken then seal up your tupperware container. It's much less weird than asking for an entire cup of cheese.

#SpoonTip: If you're a vegetarian, a lot of schools now offer vegan chicken as a substitute. Or, just swap out chicken for celery or cauliflower instead. 

It's Crunch Time: Chips

If you take away anything from this article, just remember: you cannot have dip without chips. Find a vending machine, a bag of chips, pretzels, or revert back to the trusty ol' taco station for some tortilla chips. Tortilla chips are precious cargo, so handle with care (or just be gentle when shoving your chips into your containers).

*Optional: grab some scallions or a few celery stalks if you want an extra crunch in your dip. Or, if you're trying to be healthy, use carrots or celery as a substitute for chips. 

If your school is lacking in the tortilla chip department, check out this recipe on how to make your own. Don't have access to an oven? Try this microwaveable option instead.

The Glue That Holds Everything Together: The Condiments 

There is one more battle you need to conquer: the condiments. On your way out, use two more to-go cups. One cup should be delegated to the hot sauce or buffalo sauce, and the other is for either your blue cheese or ranch (whichever you prefer).

You need 1/2 cup of hot sauce (I've used Frank's Red Hot and Sriracha before) and then another 1/2 cup of blue cheese/ranch dressing. Add more or less hot sauce depending on how spicy you want your buffalo chicken dip to be.

Make sure to seal the cups tightly and refrigerate them when you get back to your dorm. Have your getaway car ready and flee the scene.

3. Step Three: It's Time to Cook

The hard part is over. Congratulations. Now, it's time to cook your product (I don't recommend using chicken from Los Pollos Hermanos in this recipe).

First, cut up the chicken into small pieces. You don't want huge chunks, so try to shred it as thin as possible using a fork and a knife to tear apart the chicken.

If you opted for the healthier option and stole some celery or scallions, now's the time to chop 'em up too.

Then, combine all of the rest of your ingredients in a microwave-safe bowl. The mixture should be a light orange color once it's fully mixed.

Microwave the complete mixture for about 5 minutes, stirring after about every minute or so (if you choose to use an oven, bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees, then cover the top with some leftover cheddar, and bake for another 15 minutes until the top layer of cheese is golden and crispy). 

#SpoonTip: Try to leave the cream cheese out of the fridge before you start making the dip so it's at room temperature. It makes it easier to mix all of the ingredients together. 

(You can also use the buffalo chicken dip as filling for a pull-apart bread appetizer. Buy two cans of pre-made crescent roll dough and form it into a ring on a baking sheet. Stuff it with your dip, and then fold the dough over. Bake at 375 until the dough is golden brown.)

4. Have Your Dip & Eat It Too

Voilà! You have successfully made a cheap, easy, and delicious rendition of buffalo chicken dip.

Once your dip has reached it's desired temperature, it's ready to eat. Serve alongside your smuggled chips and enjoy...especially after all of your hard work. This recipe is perfect for a Super Bowl party, social gatherings, or for any time you're craving some buffalo chicken. Plus, the leftovers are great for a midnight snack. The best part is, all it cost you was a meal swipe.

omelette, omelet, cheese, egg, scrambled
Vienna Terrell

Of course this recipe could easily be made by actually purchasing the ingredients, but I personally think it's a little bit more satisfying to smuggle them out of the dining hall.

If you didn't chicken out on this mission, try out some of these more advanced buffalo chicken recipes for your next trip to the caf.

Until next time...over and out.