The Collegian
Thursday, December 08, 2022

Tips for living off the meal plan while living on campus

Would you rather eat more bread for less dough? Do you want omelets for dinner and pasta for breakfast? Is a tuna melt sandwich your idea of a complete meal? I think it's time you dared to enter my world: living on campus and off the meal plan.

It's not as fancy-smancy as the dining hall and not nearly as deep-fried as the Pier, but my cooking is exactly what I want, when I want it.

For instance, I often double-fist grilled cheese sandwiches at one in the morning ... always with ketchup and always with milk. When you get the munchies, don't count on the Dean's Den to give you what you're craving (unless you're craving honey wheat pretzel twists, which is legit). Freedom from the meal plan offers you so much more.

Case in point: This Sunday I was wondering to myself, "What sounds good?" Acting on a whim, I opened a particularly provocative can of baked beans and poured 28 ounces of brown sugar goodness into a pot on the stove.

For protein I took a piece of wheat bread (usually two bucks a loaf at Ukrop's) and cut a hole in the middle. (Side note childhood memory: I always called this an Egyptian eye when my mom made them). So now that you have an egg in the hole (Did she say that? ... Nope.), you should be sure to eat the extra bread mid-fry.

One of my friends always mixes his food together and says, "It's all going to come together in the end, so you might as well just mix on your plate." I happen to agree. Thus, I poured the steaming beans onto the egg and bread, and melted sliced cheddar to finish it off.

Fork and knife in hand, I devoured the meal in 10.5 seconds. Even the most fly-infested truck stop couldn't touch this. Warning: Don't play soccer for an hour after this meal. You will find yourself wincing as the pressure builds in your abdomen and might find the same wince in the guys around you as the pressure is relieved.

I know what you're thinking: "Most students could never ingest so much delicious food in one sitting." Well, I've got news for you: Yes, we can. When my parents told me that I wouldn't have time to cook for myself: Yes, we can. When the school tempts us with that smorgasbord of brunch food on Saturday mornings: Yes, we can. When PB&J becomes a staple in your diet: Yes, we can. And I most certainly will.

To those of you that live in the apartments and have thought about going off the meal plan: Follow the money. For those of you who have strange taste in food: Follow the selection. For the meat eaters: Do it for the medium-rare steak. For the tree huggers: Follow the opportunity to compost all your veggie castoffs. For everyone else: Follow the spontaneity that comes with buying your own food and cooking on a whim.

And when you want to eat with your 300 best friends, you can still head to D-Hall, pay full price for a meal and end up saving money in the long run. I'm a believer, and you can be, too.

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