One of my favorite things about attending a university and living on a college campus (and part of what I kind of miss now that I’m living in an off-campus apartment) is the vast array of food options available to on-campus students. Granted, NIU offers off-campus meal plans as well, but half the time I’m too lazy to drive to campus to take advantage of that. While the idea of being able to eat delicious food at just about any time of the day, it can be overwhelming the first few times you walk into any of the residence halls and don’t know where to start. With that being said, I thought I’d give you all a few tips for eating at NIU.
Review the menu BEFORE going to get food.
It’s definitely overwhelming and partially frustrating when you know you’re hungry, but you’re not exactly sure what you have a taste for and you’re already in the dining hall. I’ve been there and stayed there for quite a while. It’s easy to feel rushed when making decisions on what to eat and you could potentially slow down people who are already waiting in line and know what they want to eat. All of NIU’s dining halls have a menu online on the NIU website. The menu shows what perspective meals that particular dining hall will be serving for the entire week for all hours of the day. I wasn’t even aware that this existed until my sophomore year, so you’re already ahead of the game!
Learn what dining halls offer the food you like.
After a while, this will be much easier, but the fact that different dining halls offer different food options at different times of the day can be confusing.
Disclaimer: The following will be completely subjective, but eventually you’ll learn to do the same thing when it comes to learning what dining halls offer the food that you like to eat.
Neptune Hall: In my opinion, when it comes to salads, Neptune is the place to go.
New Hall: When it comes to pasta, New Hall is, hands down, the best place to find it. The pasta toss there is to die for and they offer multiple ways to prepare it for you.
Stevenson Hall: I haven’t been to Stevenson in a couple semesters, but the last time I was there, I remember the burgers being pretty awesome (the burgers at Neptune are pretty good too).
Master knowing what times to go to certain dining halls.
Timing is everything. You’ll learn very quickly what times certain dining halls get full and at what times. It may take a couple of times going to a dining hall that’s just closed its doors to finally remember what times some dining halls close (that happened to me a few times), but you’ll learn it eventually.
It’s especially beneficial to know this information when you’re on a time crunch, specifically if you’re eating at NIU in between classes. It’s also beneficial to know this if you’re like me and like to enjoy your meals in a quieter environment sometimes or if you like to get some studying done while eating. Because this is true for me, I’ve realized that most dining halls are pretty free at around 3 and 4 PM. However, this is kind of an awkward time to eat and you’ll probably be hungry again later in the evening.
I’ll go ahead and sum up what times the dining halls are open. Gilbert, Neptune, and Stevenson dining halls are all basically open from 7 AM to 8 PM on weekdays. Their hours change a little on the weekends, but not drastically.
For example: Neptune and Stevenson don’t open until 11 AM on the weekends while Gilbert closes early on Friday and is completely closed on the weekends. It’s also important to note that Gilbert is an upperclassman residence hall. But even though you can’t live there as a freshman, you can certainly still enjoy the dining hall there!
New Hall is open from 7 AM to midnight on the weekdays, but they close at 8 PM on Fridays. Their Saturday hours are 9 AM to 8 PM and their Sunday hours are 9 AM to midnight. Keep a look out for changes in schedules to these openings though (they’ll be posted in the dining halls) because during certain holiday breaks and other events, these hours will vary throughout the year. For more info on hours, click here.
Check the dietary information on food in the dining halls.
I’m going to give it to you straight. The freshman 15 is so real! It is not a myth; it’s a real thing that affects a ton of college students eating at NIU, myself included. But this doesn’t have to be true for everyone. If you’re interested in keeping track of the nutritional information in the foods served in the dining hall, you can check them out on the school website.
I hope this information helped and remember to have fun this semester!