Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Cafeteria Break-down

I think it's necessary to explain how my cafeteria works.  First of all, I go to a private university, and the cafeteria is open from 7:00am until 9:00pm (although food is not served after 7:00).  Although there are various meal plans to choose from, I bought what is most common -- 225 meals for the semester.  Since I live in a dorm where no kitchens are provided for the students (in fact, any cooking device beyond a microwave specifically borrowed from the school is forbidden), I have to rely on the cafeteria for all of my food.  For this meal plan, I pay $1,899.

When you enter the cafeteria, it's an all-you-can eat type of thing, even though lunch ladies still serve you.  You can go back through the lines as many times as you want.  There are three main hot food stations--one is vegetarian, one is 'classic' American foods, and the other is usually something a little different, generally more 'international' cooking.  There is also a sandwich station, where a lunch lady will you make you either a sandwich or wrap to order.  In addition, during the week there are always two soups to select from (one on the weekends), a salad bar, bagels, a dessert station, a pizza station, and the grill, which serves burgers, chicken patties, fries and the like.

So really, my school has a lot of options available.  However, I feel that a lot of the food can be quite fattening.  They usually post the caloric content of each dish, and sometimes the dish with the highest calories come from the vegetarian station.  I think that this is because the vegetarian station offers some form of cream sauce of cheese-covered option quite often.

This brings me to another issue--as a lactose intolerant person, I sometimes find it difficult to eat the food in my cafeteria.  For example, when they offer lasagna, they usually offer it at both the classic station and the vegetarian station, which eliminates two of the hot food stations for me entirely.  Then if the international section is serving quesadillas, all of the hot food lines are gone for me.  Sure, I could have a sandwich or salad, but that gets old day after day, and sometimes you just want a hot meal.  Those that make the food will make it without a sauce or the cheese if you ask, but in the case of the lasagna of the quesadilla, that's simply impossible.  There are no cheese substitutes (such as daiya cheese) available, although soy milk can be had upon request.

All in all, I really don't think my cafeteria is that bad.  There are certainly plenty of unhealthy choices, but if you're careful, they're easy to avoid. 

I forgot my camera to take a picture of my lunch, so I plan on photographing my dinner instead :)

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