The Caf—where pledges bond over early morning breakfasts, where friends grab lunch between classes, where memories are made & stomachs are filled. Oh, the glorious Caf!
All jokes aside, the Caf has a fond place in my heart simply for the fact that it's where I've spent a great deal of time hanging out with friends & making new friends. I'm not quite a Caf-rat (i.e., an MC student who spends all free time in the Caf table hopping) but I can specifically remember several times when I was in the Caf until closing time laughing my head off with some awesome people. But now as a junior I find myself spending hardly any time in the Caf, far more often grabbing a to-go box & heading to my room to finish reading an article, write a paper, or work on a project of some sort. Nonetheless, I still eat the food that the Caf has to offer, just as I have for the past two years here at MC.
Here's some simple math for you. Eating three meals a day, you'll eat 225 meals per semester (not counting weekends). If you think that's a lot, just wait. For four years in school, that puts you at a grand total of 1,800 meals, give or take. That still excludes weekends. Even if you never eat breakfast (whoops, that's me), you're still eating 1,200 meals Monday through Friday in your college career. With that being said, I personally find it pretty important that those meals be healthy & tasty.
So then if you're a Caf-rat, if you're a to-go sort of Caf-eater, or if you eat in the Caf in any sort of capacity, read on for some tips on how to tackle eating well in MC's Caf.
Put It On a Salad
This is some pretty straightforward advice. Almost anything can be put on top of lettuce & it has a good chance of not only tasting great, but being pretty healthy for you. Granted, not every random combination is as delicious as others are, but don't be afraid to try new things. Grab some grilled chicken from the grill, some cheddar cheese from the salad bar, & liven it up with some raspberry vinaigrette dressing. Feeling daring? Check out the soup of the day & make it a salad topper; chili in particular is delicious atop a bowl of spinach.
Also lettuce is generally a wonderful healthy alternative to bread. Instead of having a sandwich from the deli, take the same ingredients & eat them on a salad. Chef salads (ham, cheese, & tomato) have the same toppers as the inside of your basic sandwich, so in an effort to eat more healthily try substituting salads or even lettuce wraps for sandwiches.
Complement with Condiments (& Dipping Sauces)
For me, chips taste better with salsa (or queso!), pretzels taste better with Nutella, & carrots taste better with ranch. In the Caf, there are tons of ways to embellish your food. As a good source of protein, get some peanut butter to eat with a banana. To add some natural sweetener, grab the jar of honey near the tea & mix that into your peanut butter. That mixture is wonderful spread on pita bread or celery stalks. You can also eat pretzels or vegetables with your hummus which can be flavored with barbecue sauce or salsa for a flair of something special.
Don't Vegetate—Eat Veggies!
It's the easiest thing in the world to walk right over to the grill section, grab a hamburger & french fries & consider that a good meal. While your tastebuds might agree, your body needs vegetables for vital nutrients. French fries, while made from potatoes, don't quite make the cut. To get some good stuff along with the good-tasting stuff, make a pit stop by the salad bar on your way out of the serving lines.
For starters, you can add lettuce & tomato as well as onions or pickles to that hamburger. In addition, eat some carrot sticks, cherry tomatoes, or spinach & never forget that a little bit of ranch is the perfect solution if you don't like the way vegetables taste.
Make the Rounds
The best way to get the best meal in the Caf is to take a good look at every section—Main Event, International, Deli, Grill, Vegetarian Entree, Pizza, Salad Bar & Soup. I've missed many a good meal because I walked straight to the entree section & later learned that there was chili in the soup section (one of my all-time Caf favorites!). Make sure you walk around & look at the daily offerings before you make your meal decision.
Also make sure you take note of what you can gather from different sections to create your perfect meal. For example, when there's guacamole in International, you've got the option to make a Guacamole Burger. You could also put it on a tortilla from the deli section & chop up some grilled chicken from the grill to make a chicken fajita. Always remember that as many options as there are in the Caf already, there are also as many more as you can come up with yourself. Be creative! Your tastebuds will thank you later.
Hopefully, you can take something from these scattered tips for professional Caf-eating. Enjoy your food!
resident Caf expert & healthy-eater wannabe