When I first arrived at Vassar, the meal plan felt restrictive and boring. Cooking and putting together meals is my creative outlet, and I felt boxed in by the Deece, where all the food seemed already prepared. I would lie awake at night imagining all the things I could cook if I were at home and had access to my own kitchen and pantry.
Eventually, I looked around and realized that our beloved ACDC actually does have a lot of raw materials to work with! I began to channel my frustrations into thinking outside the box, and once I stopped thinking in stations and starting thinking about foods I liked to eat and make at home, I realized how many of those options are possible within our dear old meal plan.
My column will focus on working within the Deece to create simple, relatively healthy recipes. I’m not big on waiting in a lot of lines and will primarily be suggesting things that can be made any day of the week, without relying on items that may or may not be provided.
If you aren’t having a happy and fulfilling Deece experience, my main advice is to be brave and intentional: Do not be afraid to walk back and forth grabbing weird things from different stations in the pursuit of a Deece masterpiece. If you act like what you’re doing is normal, so will everyone else!
If you don’t see something you want, ask for it—the staff is friendly and accommodating.
Finally, try to avoid the far too common dinner rush panic (grabbing a strange combination of foods that you don’t really want because you got overwhelmed).
If your schedule allows it, going to the Deece at off hours can really help with this. Be creative, use ingredients from multiple stations, take advantage of the “special” things they put out (sometimes they have pesto mayo…!), and don’t be discouraged if your first attempts at trying to mix up your food choices aren’t as delicious as you’d hoped.
Sometimes it’s all about the process, and if you’re persistent and optimistic about your food situation, you’ll be well on your way to making the most of your primary food option for the next several years!
I’m starting with the basics—sandwiches. These are just a few of the many ways you can take it beyond the teensy deli section at the end of the salad bar.
Four Deecewiches You May Not Have Thought Of:
Extra Fresh Curried Egg Salad
A great way to pep up boring egg salad while adding some extra veggies to your lunch! For a lower calorie mayonnaise free version, just use a sliced hardboiled egg and sprinkle with some salt!
toasted wheat bread + cucumbers + mixed greens (from salad bar) or lettuce (from grill station) + curried egg salad (egg salad from salad bar mixed with a shake of curry powder from stir fry station and a little salt.)
The Classic Tuna Melt
I know many of you will have already thought of the humble tuna melt, but if I can inspire even one person to panini-press their way to melty-crispy-savory Nirvana for the very first time, it’ll be worth mentioning it here. In my opinion, cheese on both sides (bread-cheese-tuna-cheese-bread) yields the best tuna to cheese ratio. I definitely recommend toasting any sandwich bread you use, even if you’re going to use the panini press.
toasted wheat bread + a thin layer of tuna salad (from the salad bar) + cheese of your choice (I prefer the slices of cheddar cheese, but they don’t always have this…you can also use grated cheddar or sliced provolone or swiss!)
Did my strategy work? Did the mysterious name catch your eye and draw you in? This sandwich also makes a great (and filling) breakfast on the go!
toasted wheat bread + peanut butter + honey (next to the tea and coffee at the drink station) + banana slices (you probably won’t use a whole banana…save half for later, or share the potassium lovin’ with a friend.)
Bagel and Lox (Minus the Lox!)
Also known as Sometimes-the-Toppings-are-the-Best-Part, this sandwich is a vegetarian, Deece-friendly version of the classic NYC breakfast. Veganize by switching the cream cheese for hummus!
toasted bagel of choice + cream cheese + sliced tomatoes (from the grill station) + sliced onions (also grill) + liberally applied salt and pepper.