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How to Improve Dining Hall Meals

by Thalia Lauzon

Let’s all be honest: Dining hall food isn’t the best. It’s overcooked and generally bland for the inclusivity of all student’s taste buds. Some dishes are unsalvageable, but there are also adequate dishes that you can, and should, enliven for the sake of your palate. Don’t live in the world of bland food, and step into a better time with simple ways to elevate.

All these suggestions are available in the dining halls. There aren’t enough people taking advantage of the condiments, spreads, dressings and sweeteners that are readily given at each dining hall to customize your meals. Here are some suggestions on what to use and what to use them on.

Salt and Pepper

The holy grail to save all. The simplest and easiest ways to fix a dining hall dish. Salt enhances the flavors while pepper will give your food the kick it needs. If you’re worried about the possibly grainy texture of adding salt and pepper to an already cooked dish––don’t. The best way to avoid the unpleasant texture is to apply evenly to hot-warm dishes. You can even add the salt to your hot dish and put the cover back on for a minute. This will help build up some moisture that will help incorporate the salt and pepper.

Salt and pepper can be added to anything within the dining hall, but it’s best to always have on hand when you eat any meat, potatoes, eggs and soups. You’ll be shocked how much richer flavors can come out.


Butter makes everything better; it’s easy to apply to any and all dishes to help liven up your dish and give it more flavor. The creamy richness that it’ll bring to your meals is worth the extra calories. Conveniently, dining hall butter comes in small packets that are easy to store and divide for your meals. The best part about butter is that it can mask how overcooked a food is by adding moisture and smoothness to the dish. No, it won’t completely fix the problem, but a little can go a long way if you haven’t tried this trick before. Try butter with any of the meat or rice you get from the dining hall and watch its magic.

Hot/Steak/Soy Sauce

Take advantage of these lifesavers to bring an entirely new flavor that your meals need. These condiments will give your food that extra “zing” it desperately needs. Spice can be sometimes overwhelming in dining hall food to the point you can’t taste anything else, but adding your own hot sauce is different. You can control your spice levels and enrich your dish to an entirely new level. Similarly, steak sauce and soy sauce give your food a vinegary umami flavor that can make you forget about the once bland food you ate before.

Seriously, use these on any dish you want to be different from the normal food you eat in the dining hall.


Ketchup isn’t used enough for foods other than fries. However, this condiment can be great on so many other foods. It will give you a tomato and vinegary flavor that will enhance the flavor of the meal while at the same time changing the flavors slightly towards the better. If you haven’t already, try ketchup on your eggs, rice and meat.

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