Imagine it is your first day of finals. You wake up and get ready for the day, shower, do your hair, pick out a fun outfit, and do anything you can to make yourself confident for your impossible final. More likely, though, you roll out of bed and glance at your flashcards real quick before heading to class in your sweatpants and t-shirt you slept in. Regardless, you decide to swing by the dining hall for a quick breakfast, it is the most important meal of the day. You see the fluffy pancakes, crispy bacon, banana nut muffins, baked apples, and the fresh strawberries calling your name. The only problem is you ran out of swipes. Looks like you will fail the test on an empty stomach instead.

Here are some helpful dining hall hacks to be sure that you can stretch your swipes the whole semester!

Ditch the Doritos

Of course, they look awesome in the campus convenience store, but there are better snacking options. Many oatmeal, yogurt or salad bars tend to have granola or nuts. Next time you go grab some extra in a to-go container for a study snack with a little more sustenance.

Microwave mug muffins

Who would’ve thought that you could make a muffin in your microwave! Grab the banana on the way out of the dining hall and follow this recipe: http://www.biggerbolderbaking.com/peanut-butter-banana-mug-cake/ for an awesome breakfast! If you have access to an oven, go bigger and make a loaf of banana bread, trust me, it is sure to be a floor favorite.

You don’t need Nana for baked apples

While I am sure your Nana makes the best baked apples, you can too, all from the comfort of your own dorm. Cut up an apple from the dining hall into slices and put in a microwave safe bowl along with a pat of butter, spoonful of sugar and dash of cinnamon. Microwave for two minutes on high and you have yourself a wonderful warm snack!

Order less pizza on pizza night

You can make a pizza stretch between a few more people with this easy hack. Head to the dining hall and take salad to go. Fill up two containers with salad and one with toppings and you will have a nice salad to go with your pizza!

Salad bar veggies can have a second life

Those salad bar veggies don’t have to be thrown away if you don’t want them at the time. Instead, blanch them in hot water, you can use a Keurig or coffee maker, for 2-3 minutes, then freeze them. When you are ready, steam them in the microwave with a little bit of water in the bottom of a bowl and a lid with vents or paper towel on top for 4-6 minutes. Now you have veggies to go with dinner!

When you don’t “got milk”

Dry cereal is gross. With strategic thinking at the dining hall, you can be sure your cereal never goes dry again. Bring a travel coffee mug to the dining hall and fill it up with milk. Take it back to your room, refrigerate, and enjoy with your cereal the next morning, or Oreos, I won’t tell.

Sandwich Stretching

Don’t waste your awesome sandwich or wrap! Take the other half back with you and enjoy it for lunch the next day along with a piece of fruit or some of those delicious baked apples.

I hope these helpful tips keep your stomach full all semester. Make sure to continue to stay active as well and eat everything in moderation. A healthier you will translate better in class, with friends, and for your future! Happy dining hall hacking!