Healthy Eating in the Dining Courts

So, you like cooking, or maybe you just like to have some control over your meals. Unfortunately, thanks to classes, clubs, and other commitments, you’re stuck having meals in the dining courts. All seems bleak, the rigid menus forcing you to choose between mildly appealing and kind of appetizing. However, there is still hope! Even in the dining courts, there’s room for customization, opportunities to make your meals your own. I’ll give you a few of my personal favorite customizable options and unique creations, but feel free to explore the dining courts and make your own college student creations.

  1. The Salad
    The obvious option. Practically all dining courts have a salad bar available, stocked with toppings ranging from beans to peppers to cheese to sunflower seeds. With all the choices in greens, dressings, and toppings, it’s easy to make a salad perfect for you. But don’t feel obligated to stick to the bar when making your masterpiece! Look around to see what else is being offered. Top your greens with some tofu pepper scramble, add some rice for a homemade burrito bowl, scoop on some hummus in place of dressing, or do something entirely your own.
  2. The Sandwich
    The other obvious option. Many dining courts have containers filled with various sandwich breads next to a collection of meats, cheeses, and veggies. Just take two slices of bread, put what you want in between, and enjoy. Make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich if you want to satisfy your inner child. Or put a tomato and mozzarella sandwich into the panini press for a delicious tomato mozzarella panini.
  3. The DIY Burrito
    Also in the bread containers, you can find the often ignored tortilla wraps. Take one of these, put it in a salad bowl (to prevent ingredient spillage), and fill with whatever you’d like. Putting salad ingredients into the wrap can transform a healthy eating choice from drab to fab.
  4. The Taco Salad
    It’s taco day at Windsor. The tortilla chips and guacamole look so good, but you were hoping to make a healthy choice for lunch today. The solution? A taco salad! Start with a bowl of lettuce, add some black beans if you’d like, then head over to the taco bar and top with corn, guacamole, sour cream, and crushed tortilla chips. Delicious and healthy taco-y goodness.
  5. The Desserts
    That’s right, even when the dessert bars tempt you with apple pie and shortbread cookies, you can still make your own desserts, and even have them be healthy. If you’re a fan of peanut butter and banana, grab a banana, scoop a dollop of peanut butter, spread one on the other, and enjoy! Or, do the same with apples if that’s more your style. Yogurt is another personal favorite. Scoop some in a bowl, sprinkle some granola, and top with any and all of your favorite fruits

See, dining courts don’t have to be a death sentence for a cook. Whether it’s a salad, sandwich, or something else, you can always make food your own.



By Cooking Instructor Connor Hage



feature image from:

A. (2010, January 4). Wiley Dining Court earns national design award [Purdue university]. Retrieved October 24, 2017, from



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