Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Drowning in Food Points

Although living in an on-campus apartment is quite convenient, it does have one major drawback: I must purchase a dining plan. As you may have noticed, I haven't been patronizing the university's eateries with quite the same regularity as last year, when I lived in a dormitory setting. The combination of having access to a full kitchen and simply becoming bored with the eateries' offerings, I prefer to prepare meals at home most of the time (with the occasional purchase at the mediocre salad bar). While I am able to use my dining plan at the on-campus grocery store for canned beans, Amy's burritos, and $6 boxes of cereal, it never seems to diminish my never-ending supply of dining funds. The result of this lack of on-campus spending translates into a major food points surplus--due to last semester's excess points and my moderate spending habits this semester, I have to spend $1300 before April 28th. Yikes! If only I were able to use food points at Whole Foods...Anyone else have experience with this?

Alright, now that I have my dining dilemma off my chest, we can proceed to the eats:

After class, I was surprised to find myself with extra time--now that my tutoring appointments have ended (for now), I don't have to rush around so much. I took advantage of the extra time by preparing some homemade bean stew: pinto beans, cauliflower, carrots, broccoli, garlic, tomato sauce, and curry powder made for a tasty dish. (I made a similar soup here). Toast and applesauce with cashews rounded it all out.
As per usual, I had my dining committee meeting on Monday night. Afterward, I was pretty hangry so, I grabbed a salad from the salad bar, then came home to prepare some killer accompaniments. I heated up some of TJ's chickenless nuggets and baked up a quick batch of sweet potato fries. Served up with plenty of organic ketchup, this meal was pretty awesome. That's Woodstock dressing on the salad.
I decided that I have been neglecting my beloved Nutribody protein for far too long, so I made a simple strawberry-blueberry smoothie with it. Yum.
Due to the rapid rise in temperatures, I decided that I could start having smoothies for breakfast again. Yes, I know--it's an addiction. Anyway, this one included peaches, banana, and rice milk; that's a mini bagel with cashew butter on the side.
Lunch was an old standard: scrambled tofu with broccoli. Seriously, what did I eat before I had scrambled tofu?! If you care to reminisce, here is a link to the very first time I made it. This batch tasted especially fabulous--somehow it turns out better when I use a fresh jar of tahini. I stuffed the mixture (well, as much as would fit) into an Ezekiel pita and had some greens and a blood orange on the side.
As I mentioned above, there is an on-campus grocery store where I may use some of my plenteous food points. I often browse the aisles and find some surprising products, such as this one: concentrated pesto. To be honest, I don't think I've ever had normal pesto. Nonetheless, this introduction to the food proved to be relatively pleasant. I squirted a couple tablespoons of the green goo with some whole grain angel hair pasta and squash. I had more greens (trying to use up the bag before it gets slimy!) topped with chopped apricots and a dish of fresh blackberries from TJ's.
For the smoothie last night, I used another Spirutein packet, this time in the Tropical Fruit flavor. Strawberries, pineapple, and coconut made this concoction pretty awesome.
I took the time to make a breakfast parfait this morning, and the end result was decidely berry-tastic. TJ's blueberry Greek yogurt, frozen blueberries, fiber cereal, and almonds made for a delicious breakfast treat. Oh Trader Joe, how I love thee. PS Lately, I've been sampling different brands of Greek yogurt (*gasp* venturing away from my beloved Fage?!). For all you Greek yogurt fans, what's your favorite brand/flavor?
It doesn't look like I'll be able to get into the Duke-UNC game tonight, which is a major bummer. I'll likely end up watching it on TV with some buds. What are your plans for this evening?


VeggieGirl said...

Hang in there with the food points, girl!!

Mmm, pesto!! :-D

VeggieGirl said...

Hang in there with the food points, girl!!

Mmm, pesto!! :-D

Lauren said...

Love the yogurt parfait! I need to get a parfait glass...

I'd have to say my favorite greek yogurt is Chobani 0% blueberry.

shelby said...

Your food looks too freakin good!!!

Mel said...

damn girl, your eats look killer!! and yes, i had the dining points dilemma my freshman year too, and so did everyone else I know! universities rip you off MAJORLY with that stuff :-/ oh, and my fave greek yogurt is Fage too, hands down haha. Nothing else like it! Have a great night! :-)

ksgoodeats said...

Good luck with the food points! I'm sure you'll figure something out you master chef :)

SP fries!! Q: are those soy nuggets meaty?

I LOVE pesto! I'm a Chobani girl through and through. I used to like the blueberry or strawberry ones the best but now I'm liking the vanilla one (not as sweet).

CeciLiA said...

Yea ... if only Whole Food is in the campus, then that would NOT be a problem at all :D

Hrmm does your campus store sells pb and co products?! If they do, you can help me buy some and I'll pay u back the money :D I wonder how much would be shipping cost be :/

Laura said...

When I had a lot of money left in my account at the end of the semester, I started stocking up on non-perishable things like bottled water, cereal boxes, etc.

Vegan On Stage said...

omg same thing happened to me when i was living on campus.. i just stocked up on my favorite frozen foods....also...why not try buying a salad every day and then bringing it home and garnishing it with your favorite toppings... cant go wrong with that i guess?\

i dunno how the eateries on your campus are,,, but we had some pretty decent ones.. you could treat some friends???

HangryPants said...

I definitely remember having all those points at the end of the semester and the school store being out of everything. What a rip off!

I really want to try the soy nuggets. They look great.

eatingbender said...

I definitely had a bunch of points left over at the end of every quarter when I was on the meal plan. We actually had a food drive where you could buy food and donate it, which was very nice! Maybe you could buy a bunch of food and bring it do a donation spot? I don't know!

That concentrated pesto sounds interesting and I bet it tastes great with pasta!

I just saw your comment on my blog - I would definitely try the humbecue combo with a salad or on a wrap as a pizza sauce. The latter is actually how I first discovered the deliciousness. Here's a recipe (not vegetarian/vegan, but maybe it will help!):

I'm excited to hear what you think!

carolinebee said...

Hey girl! Maybe u can do a Dining Dollar Food Drive :D!? My friends did stuff like that and put boxes in dorms/classrooms for ppl to buy cans and cereal for local homeless shelters. As for the Greek Yog, I love the Oikos plain, it has such low sugar.but I add Splenda :O!! I just bought the TJ's Greek Yog b/c its SO cheap! I'll prob add splenda to that too. I agree with JEnn on the hummus/BBQ- try it on salad, pizza, or will love it i know it!

Katie said...

I had the same surplus problem in college. I was never able to use them all, but I tried to buy mostly nonperishables. Sometimes I'd even use them for things like cold medicine, band aids, napkins and other random non-food items. If I knew I couldn't use everything I'd take a couple friends and let them get some goods, too. Good luck with that!

Danielle said...

Ah, I know how those food points are! I lived in an apartment last year too... why would you want to go to the dining hall when you can cook a yummer and healthier meal for yourself? Am I right?! Anywho, I ended up buying some of my "groceries" from the dining halls, like milk and containers of veggies from the salad bar and then being generous with friends. Good luck!

Marianne said...

Is that pretty standard that you would have to purchase a dining plan at schools in the US? Because it seems a bit stupid if you live in housing with a kitchen. And I don't understand why they force you to purchase it in the first place. At least you can find a few things worth buying, although it might still be hard to use up those points!

ChickPea said...

VeggieGirl: I'm sure I'll figure out a way to spend them somehow.
How do you like to enjoy pesto?
Lauren: Parfait glasses are really cheap--a got a pair of 2 for $2!
Thanks for the Greek yogurt rec--I've never had any of the flavored Chobanis. I can't find them anywhere!
Shelby: Thanks! Right back at ya:)
Mel: Major rip-off. I've never really had this problem before because I actually ate on campus for the past two years. Oh well!
Fage was the first brand of Greek yogurt I ever tried way back when...I will always be attached to it!
K: I wouldn't really describe the nuggets as meaty. As with the chik patties, I think the best part is the breading, and this stuff is whole grain breading. Score!
Seems like there are a lot of Chobani fans. I hope it soon becomes available in my area.
Cecilia: Unfortunately, the campus store does not sell PB&Co products...quite the contrary. All they sell is Jif.
Laura: Good recommendation! I have a feeling that when I drive home for the summer, much of the trunk will be occupied by food!
VeganOnStage: I think I will end up trying ALL of your recommendations. I always love having access to pre-cut veggies; I'll stock up on some Amy's products; and I'll take some friends out.
HangryPants: The soy nuggets are fab! If you don't have a TJ's, there is a brand called Health Is Wealth that makes a similar product.
EatingBender: Yep, we have a similar option here; I can donate food points to the Ronald McDonald house (and I plan on doing so!). I forgot to mention that in my post...oh well.
Thanks so much for the recipe..I can't wait to try it!
CarolineBee: I should have mentioned in my post that we have the option of donating points to the Ronald McDonald House; I have already allocated at least $100 to that. No need to waste food!
I haven't tried Oikos in a while; I like that they are organic unlike Fage.
Katie: That would be so nice if I could use the points for non-food items--then I'd never run out of paper towels and cough drops! Sadly, we can only use them on food.
Danielle: I know--the administrators of the university clearly don't think like we do. I guess most college students really don't care much about the kitchen aspect of an apartment!
Anyway, great idea to stock up on things at the dining hall.
Marianne: Yes, usually if you live on-campus at an American university, you MUST purchase a dining plan. I am not sure why such a policy evolved. Maybe I'll buy all my blogger friends some foodie gifts at the on campus grocery store! Care for some Nutella?

Erin of Care to Eat said...

The food points? I've never lived on campus so I was completely clueless! I feel smarter now! :)
Everything always looks great, obvi, but I swear I need those nuggets!

Sarah (lovINmytummy) said...

Can you "buy" fruit and other things in the cafeteria and then take them home? We were on an open plan, but I'd always take a piece of fruit with me on the way out the door, and the next thing you know, I'd always have a full fruit bowl in the dorms!

Your parfait was beautiful. I'm cheap and make my own Greek yogurt by straining the plain stuff.

My Magic Bullet cup wants to date your Magic Bullet cup ;)

HangryPants said...

Hi Caroline,

Yes, I made the eggplant chips myself. It's really easy - here are the directions:

Cut as thin as you would like. I like 'em thin and crispy.

ChickPea said...

Erin: Consider yourself lucky that you never had to purchase a dining plan...oh darn, you missed out on dining halls and buying food you don't need...
The Soy Nuggets rock my socks!
Sarah: I should make more use of the salad bar and produce at the main dining locations--that way I could save some of my own money that I currently spend on produce!
That's another good way to save $$--strain my own yogurt. I've heard of others doing it before, but I've never tried it myself. I shall try ASAP.
Haha..I am glad someone appreciates the MB as much as I do!
Hangry Pants: Thanks so much for the link! I look forward to trying them!