CalDining Food Hacks!

Cal Dining
An image from the official CalDining webpage.

Do you love food? I love food. But no matter what school you go to, dining halls aren’t the best. (sad) Through trials and tribulation, I’ve come up with some hacks to get us through the daily grind. I have been to 3 of the 4 dining halls on campus: Crossroads (aka croads), Cafe 3, and Foothill. While I hear Clark Kerr’s dining hall is the best, I am not sure if these recipes will surely apply. (sorry ckc friends).

Appetizers & Mains

In n Out Animal Fries
Lived in so-cal and missing them animal fries? Me too. While this won’t be the same, we can come close. To prepare, the dining hall will have to offer fries that day. From the deli bar, you want to grab some onion slices, and grill them on the panini press or the toaster oven. After they’re pretty grilled, chop away! Grab some fries, place the onions on top. If you go to the salad bar, they will always have thousand island dressing and cheese. Put some dressing and cheese on. Some days it isn’t American cheese, but you do what you can do :’) . After, microwave for 20 – 30 seconds. And you’re all done!

Pasta Salad
A very simple recipe. I like to make some of my favorite salad combinations from the salad bar and add some pasta from the pasta area!

Vegan Tenders
Vegan tenders are the single most beautiful things to have been served to us, or at least I think so. Even if you aren’t vegan or vegetarian, these are a must try!

Spring Rolls
Croads and foothill offer spring rolls from time to time. And these are really good! I would recommend you get them, and you can also dip them in the sweet chili sauce that is always available with other sauces. (Winter fat gone, now you can have spring rolls!)

Grilled cheese, Grilled anything
If nothing is pulling your palette at the dining hall. There is always the option to make some grilled cheese! There’s always some form of cheese at the dining hall, either at the deli bar or at the salad bar. First, be sure to heat up the panini press before you get the ingredients, otherwise, it will take too long. Next, gather your ingredients. Some combinations can be just a simple cheese selection and bread. Sometimes, I like to put in sliced tomatoes and spinach or the marinara sauce from the pasta section. You can also do a PBJ press, add some deli meat, or just make some toast! There are so many options to rotate around.

Drinks & Dessert

Ice-cream with a Twist
If you’re lucky the ice-cream/fro-yo machines will be working. They are pretty good! I really like the chocolate and blackberry flavor ones. To spice up your fro-yo, add in some toppings from the cereal bar. My favorite combinations are cocoa puffs + chocolate, cinnamon toast + vanilla, frosted flakes + vanilla,

The dictionary says: “An affogato is an Italian coffee-based dessert. It usually takes the form of a scoop of vanilla gelato or ice cream topped or “drowned” with a shot of hot espresso.” Every time I go to a cafe I have to pay almost 7$ for a small cup. But if you’re feeling fancy at the dining halls one day, just make your own! All you need is the black coffee from the coffee machines and some vanilla ice cream. Honestly, a dream.

Milk and Vanilla Ice-cream
This is also a drink I saw at a popular cafe back home in Orange County. To make it, you want to fill your cup with soft-serve first, then fill up the rest with milk. Use a spoon and enjoy!

Lemonade + Passion Fruit Guava + Ice Tea
This concoction is my go-to mix. If you ever tried brisk lemonade ice tea, this is the upgraded version! It’s fruity but toned down by the ice tea. (only available at Cafe 3 and Foothill, not sure about CKC and not available at Croads sadly).

Things to Avoid
Just to be safe, I would avoid the fish and shellfish. An anonymous inside source has told me that is the one thing that they would not eat from the dining halls after working there. Make sure the salad bar items look fresh, and that the vents around them look clean! Personal opinion, but I choose not to try to eat the rice at the dining halls. I feel like they always over or undercook them.

I hope that with these fun little tips and tricks, you can survive yet another semester of dining hall food. If all else fails, there’s always cereal and salad!

Author: Jiyoo Jeong

Hello! My name is Jiyoo and I am a second year at Cal studying Business, Statistics, and Computer Science. Other than burying myself in problem sets and projects, you might find me writing and drawing while snuggled in bed and watching Netflix or probing through thrift stores. I also enjoy my days when I get to go to SF to volunteer to help increase digital and art literacy and get to spend time on the weekends running a female entrepreneurs accelerator with Berkeley Skydeck! I hope you can read some of my experiences and be inspired to make your own at Berkeley!