UNDERGRADUATE ADMISSIONS at WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY in ST. LOUIS

Living and eating at a top-ranked university with top-ranked food

It’s no secret—the food here is good. You know it, I know it, we all know it. We always rank high (sometimes #1) on the college websites for our food. What can I say? We have our priorities in order.

It’s important to know you’re coming to a school that feeds you well. Maybe that sounds silly, since college is about filling your brain, not filling your tummy (that’s mostly true). But in actuality, it’s more about the idea that college is a place where you live your life, not just a place where you stop by once a day for your daily dose of knowledge. There’s a reason why your parents seem to care so much about college food (at least mine did)…they want to know you’ll be taken care of. When college is your 24/7 life, you’ll depend on your school to support ALL of you…your body, mind, and soul. I think food can be a big part of that.

Of course, being a college student is not a stagnant state of existence. I’d say it’s almost completely the opposite: college is a time of constant change. Just as I’ve changed, the way my days are structured has changed as well. One of the ways this is readily apparent is my mealtimes. Here’s a little tour of what three plus years of eating at WashU has looked like:

FRESHMAN YEAR

Breakfast: I ate tons of instant oatmeal. I’d get these boxes of oatmeal packets in the mail from my mama, and I’d supplement with the occasional Target run every so often. I used my meal points to buy milk from Paws and Go (a little convenience store built into BD—the South 40 dining hall), and I always kept a jug in my dorm fridge. Before class, I’d throw a packet and a splash of milk into the microwave, and have warm, delicious breakfast in 90 seconds. On weekends I’d get BD brunch, where they make all the food stations buffet-style and you feast like nobody’s business.

Lunch: I split my lunches between the DUC (the biggest on-campus dining hall) and BD (technically, “Bear’s Den,” the South 40 dining hall). Both halls have different stations (Grill, Mexican, Asian, Pizza, and others).

Dinner: ALWAYS BD. My favorite go-to’s were chicken stir fry, or a Caprese sandwich on focaccia.

SOPHOMORE YEAR

Breakfast: I genuinely don’t remember. I do remember that every Tuesday I’d meet my friends for breakfast at BD, where I’d eat a banana, peanut butter, and cream of wheat. Or a blueberry bagel.

Lunch: DUC. I went through a major DUC salad station phase. How to build a Sierra DUC Salad: Spinach + mixed grains + broccoli + chickpeas + carrots + red wine vinaigrette + sunflower seeds + crasins + goldfish crackers. Goldfish crackers on salad is a pretty good description of how I live my life.

Dinner: I lived in the village, but worked on the 40, so split my meals between the two places pretty evenly. At the Village my favorite was a grilled cheese sandwich with avocado and an egg. At BD I ordered lots of pasta, which they let you load with the veggies of your choice.

JUNIOR YEAR

Breakfast: Cereal. Always cereal. I was living off-campus for the first time, so I got to keep my kitchen well-stocked. And back then, my definition of well-stocked was milk and cheerios.

Lunch: I was always on campus, and mostly ate at the DUC (I had a couple of lunch groups I’d meet there at certain times on certain days). I also discovered the Law School Café, which makes salads, wraps, and always has a super affordable pre-made grain salad. Even though living off campus meant I had less meal points, I was always able to eat lunch on campus.

Dinner: I made my own dinner (my go-to was pasta with steamed veggies) some nights, and ate at school on other nights. I had one class that met on Wednesday nights, and the professors brought us bagels and cream cheese for dinner every class.

SENIOR YEAR

Breakfast: I live a little farther off campus than most, and this year more than ever, my apartment feels like a home. I eat there more than anywhere else, and at this point I’m well-practiced at grocery buying on a college budget. My pantry is full, so my breakfasts vary. Cereal is still a staple, as is Greek yogurt. When I’m on the run, I’ll grab a Cliff bar (my mama bought us a Costco-sized box of them). I brew a pot of coffee nearly every day, and I have a really cool leak-proof coffee thermos I throw into my backpack when I ride my bike to school.

Lunch: I bring a packed lunch most days. Sometimes I’ll make a sandwich, but my number one favorite is always leftovers.

Dinner: If I’m not in the mood to think about dinner, I make chicken breast and sautéed spinach. Or chicken breast and spinach salad. Or sautéed spinach with spinach salad. (I really love spinach). But the truth of the matter is, I love to cook and bake. I’m trying new things all the time. My favorite recipes of 2016 have been zucchini raviolis, carrot cashew soup, and homemade apple pie. Pretty much my favorite thing ever is getting to cook and eat a meal with my best friend/roommate/partner in crime. We try and do it at least once or twice a week, and when we do it always makes our place feel a little more like home.

The truth is, eating shapes the way we structure our days and live our lives. What it means to eat at WashU helps answer the question what it means to live at WashU. And while that meaning has changed for me through the years, it’s always something I’m grateful for.