The struggle to shake off dull dining

The diet of a sophomore on a dining plan: cereal, salads, pasta and sandwiches. Lately, I can’t help but crave some diversity in my diet, and I can’t help but wonder if that’s too much to ask.

This weekend, I went with friends to Casablanca for Middle Eastern cuisine, and realized how long it’d been since I’d eaten beef. Of the meat options available with a dining plan, the few that don’t entirely gross me out are tuna, lunchmeat turkey and sometimes chicken.

Even the off-campus restaurant options limit the food palette. There’s only so many times a Jimmy John’s, Qdoba or Papa John’s “meal” can be considered “something different.”

As someone who considers eating a hobby, this disappointment really strikes a nerve. Especially when I find myself eating the same salad I had yesterday just to hold me over until dinner, where I’ll mow down a huge plate of pasta that keeps me full only for a few hours.

I know I was spoiled growing up with a stay-at-home mom who prepared gourmet, sit-down dinners almost every night. I also know my food situation is probably only going to get less exciting as I prepare for apartment life come June. But after paying more than $1,700 for a semester’s worth of dining hall food, I wouldn’t expect to feel so dissatisfied.

Casablanca helped me realize something else too: the reason I consider eating a hobby is because I enjoy doing it surrounded by people I care about. Being full isn’t the same alone as it is with someone else.

Overall, I think I’m mostly disappointed with my diet not only because I’m craving diversity in my meals, but because I miss meals that feel like those dinners my mom used to make—and not just the food, but on the whole atmosphere of it.

Sitting down and taking the time to enjoy a meal with people I’m close to seems like a fairly foreign concept to me as a sophomore with a dining plan. I’m not entirely sure what it’ll take to shake the dull diet problem, but I’m assuming it’ll include meals that are closer to home.