Caf Hacks: How to Get the Most Bang for Your Buck with a To-Go Box

Caf Hacks: How to Get the Most Bang for Your Buck with a To-Go Box

As a busy and broke college student, I’ve found that one of the most daunting tasks is balancing your Dining Services budget. Here at Andrews, we’re fortunate enough to have the advantage of an all-you-care-to-eat style cafeteria, which is a gold-mine of culinary opportunity when it comes to saving money. That being the case, this week I set out to create the ultimate to-go box, to experiment and see exactly how much sustenance I could fit into my $10 Styrofoam box.

Step One: I started off with a base of beans and rice, and stacked warm foods such as potatoes and steamed broccoli on top of that. It’s always best to place starchy cooked foods on the bottom because, since theoretically you’ll be eating from the top down, having them there means you’ll eat them last, and if you’re full before then you can just save them, and they’ll keep longer than salad and such.

    Tip: Keep your box fully opened and on a tray while you’re loading up—it makes it easier to carry, and you can put foods on the lid sid, for optimal space-usage.

    Step Two: The next layer is the salad. It’s great to have the salad on top, because nutritionists recommend you eat vegetables first in a meal, and you’ll be forced into that with this arrangement. I chose an assortment of greens and lathered a layer of Italian dressing on next, followed by tomatoes, cucumbers and goldfish crackers.

    Tip: Put the dressing on your salad before adding the other toppings. Placing the dressing between the lettuce and other veggies can prevent the dressing from smearing onto the lid or other foods you might want to add on top of the salad.

Step Three: The top-off. The goal is to utilize every cubic inch of space available, so I stuffed three slices of pizza into my box as a topper. I placed them facing down, so that the bottom of the pizza wouldn’t get all soggy from the salad. The caf also permits you to take a cup and a bowl, as well as two pieces of fruit.

    Tip: If you’re wanting soup, instead of a bowl, trying using a hot-drinks cup. This is a much easier (and fun) way to consume soup, and you’re able to fit more into the container.

    Tip: Put fruit in your drink cup instead of an actual drink. Fruit is a great alternative to other desserts, and keeping it in the cup is a safe way to separate it from the other foods and preserve the integrity of the flavor.    

While it does take a little bit of extra time and effort to organize everything and arrange it in such a specific fashion, this bit of intentionality ultimately can go a long way. What would’ve been one meal suddenly becomes two. Though the box isn’t the prettiest thing to look at and many foods fuse into one another and “cross-contaminate,” many of those raised in the Adventist culture are used to potluck-style meals and don’t mind the mix-up. Besides, desperate times call for desperate measures, and, as the saying goes, “It’s all going to end up in the same place anyway.”


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