Whether you’re fueling a late night study-session or grabbing lunch with some friends, food is a huge part of the college experience. We (understandably) receive quite a few questions about dining on campus, so in an attempt to answer them, I’ll be logging what I eat throughout a typical day as a vegetarian on Northwestern’s dining plan!
I don’t care what anybody says – breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so don’t skip it! Breakfast is my favorite meal to eat in the dining halls, and I find that a delicious (and healthy) meal can really set the tone for the day. Most of the time, I’ll head to the omelet bar at Allison and have an egg white omelet filled with veggies with a bowl of fresh berries on the side. If I’m on the go, I might put together a breakfast sandwich instead, adding in a delicious vegetarian sausage patty if they’re being served that day. Then, all I have to do is grab a cup of hot coffee (free Starbucks brew served all day!) and I’m out the door to class.
Where I eat lunch usually depends on where I am on campus. Luckily, the dining halls are never too far! When possible, I love going to our pure eats, allergen-friendly dining hall at Foster-Walker East. Not only are the options inclusive of those with dietary restrictions, but they’re also super healthy and fresh! My favorite meal comes from the made-to-order stir fry bar, which is unique to this dining hall. I’ll usually have a hot bowl of teriyaki veggies and brown rice with a fresh salad on the side. Believe me, if you didn’t know it was dining hall food, you definitely wouldn’t be able to tell. After lunch, I’ll typically grab a banana or an apple for later and then go about my day!
As part of the first-year dining plan, each student receives $125 dining dollars to spend per quarter at participating non-dining-hall locations on campus, including convenience stores and the quick service locations in Norris. This definitely comes in handy when I’m not really in the mood for the aforementioned apple or banana option. Sometimes I’ll stop into one of the convenience stores on campus to pick up trail mix, a protein shake or some other quick and easy bite to get me through the afternoon. If I need some caffeine, which is not an uncommon occurrence, I might use my dining dollars to grab an almond milk latte from Starbucks in Norris. Or, if I happen to be near a dining hall, I’ll just pop in for a quick bowl of greek yogurt and honey (perks of unlimited swipes for first-years!) a few hours before dinner.
It may not be the largest or most popular dining hall, but Hinman definitely has the best dinner on campus. While the other halls change up their cuisine each night so there’s always something new to try, Hinman maintains a reliable offering of Mexican food, build-your-own pasta bowls, and breakfast for dinner each week night. I’ll usually throw together a burrito bowl full of beans, greens, and fajita veggies, topped with plenty of guac and pico de gallo. This meal is absolutely infallible and, in my opinion, even better than Chipotle.
The dining halls definitely make an effort to accommodate the extremely diverse dietary needs, restrictions, and preferences of Northwestern students. My top two tips for navigating the vast array of food options include: using the dine on campus website or app to check menus before choosing which dining hall to eat at, and getting creative by combining dishes and ingredients from the different buffet-style stations to create what you want to eat. With six dining halls to choose from on campus, you’re sure to fall into your own delicious routine in no time.