Top Tips for Eating in College

January 1, 1970

As you are looking at colleges, you might be wondering what kind of food options are available to you. Every college has unique dining opportunities, and I’m going to tell you all about eating at Houghton University.

Houghton University’s rural location offers many advantages, but before you come here, you might find yourself wondering if you will really be able to survive on “cafeteria food” for all three meals per day. Rest assured, it’s not as bad as it may seem. The good news is there’s actually some great (even surprising) things about food at Houghton!

Eating on Campus

Make the Most of the Dining Hall

Dining halls aren’t usually places where people look forward to eating, and if you’re a freshman or sophomore on the full meal plan, the prospect can be daunting. However, Metz has done a pretty great job at creating a fun dining experience—so much so that I’m a senior living off-campus and still have a full meal plan because it’s so convenient.

College Dining Hall Houghton
Lots of the fresh food at the college dining hall is locally grown.

Metz offers a wide variety of options, including the main course, gluten-free meals, a salad and soup bar, a sandwich station, and pizza that’s always available. (Also, the desserts are usually de-lic-i-ous). There’s a huge selection of locally-made ice cream that Highlanders are known for rapidly consuming.

If you’re not feeling any of the ready-made food, there is also a stir fry station and a generic cooking station so that you can make your own meal there. It’s not your mother’s homemade cooking, but it’s a satisfactory substitute. And if there’s ever a suggestion you want to make, Metz has a bulletin board where you can put your comments—and they really do listen!

The best part of the dining hall is your ability to have great conversations with other people while eating. You can gather really big groups of friends and all eat together—some of your best college memories can be made at the dining hall.

Check Out Other Campus Eateries

If you need a break from the dining hall, the town of Houghton also has restaurants you can flock to. We have two on-campus restaurants that are still run by Metz but have very different options from the dining hall. You can use your flex dollars (pre-loaded money on your student card) to purchase items, and every full meal plan automatically comes with 100 flex dollars for the semester.

…The Coffee Shop

One of these eateries is Java 101, our coffee shop that offers quick-bite food and drinks. My favorites at Java are their fruit smoothies and their to-go snacks. They make some really great desserts, and even package together sandwiches that I can take for lunch when I’m headed off campus for the day.

…The Snack Shop

Big Al’s is our other on-campus restaurant that has some greasier options like burgers, fries, and other fried goodness, but they also offer healthier options like tacos.

Eating Off-Campus

Survey Local Restaurants

There are also a few restaurants close to Houghton that aren’t connected to Metz at all. Lots of students take trips to 3 Bums for pizza and wings, Subway for healthier options, or China Star for some Chinese food that’s easy on our college wallets. There are multiple other cute small-town restaurants in the surrounding towns, but it’s up to you and your friends to go find them and check them out.

Explore the Region

There’s a lot of exploring to do around here, especially food wise. It’s not a bad thing that popular chain restaurants are far away. If you really crave something that isn’t close, it’s just an excuse for an adventurous car ride, and those are the best!

Learning How to Cook for Yourself

If you are tired of everyone else’s cooking, once you are a junior you can be off of the full meal plan and decide on something smaller. Feeling brave? You can start making your own meals, which can be fun! If you want to play it safe, maybe sign up for a plan with seven meals a week, so that you don’t always have to cook, but you will still get some cooking experience each day. It can also be fun (and sometimes a little scary) to try your friends’ culinary experiments.

Snacks and Treats Are Never Far Away

Food plays a big part in our community. We even have our own garden at Houghton, where we’ve recently planted fruit trees that will eventually provide us with more fresh fruit. Often, if our professors are particularly proud of us or just want to celebrate, they will bring in desserts. This is especially helpful during finals and takes away some of the stress. Midnight breakfast is also a finals week tradition where we eat breakfast food at midnight amidst studying for our exams. At almost all campus events, they hand out free snacks which are usually delicious and the best part, in my opinion.

Food is something that brings people together and helps us develop a tighter community, and it surrounds us here. Houghton is a Christian college that loves to eat and be merry!