The bag lunch line at St. Olaf is a popular option for Oles with little time to spare. With a swipe of your student card, you can use your meal plan to get a portable lunch to sneak away to a quiet corner of the library or to munch on in class. But while bag lunches may be convenient, I will be the first to testify that they bore me to tears.
There is nothing worse than heading up to the bag lunch line only to have your eyes linger on Stav’s menu for too long, discovering that macaroni and cheese, quesadillas or wild rice soup are available. If only you had the time! While I do like a small portion of the regular bag lunch repertoire, bag lunches would garner more of my love if they allowed us more options. With the high cost of meals through Bon Appétit and our expensive board plans in general, we at least deserve to be thrown some variety within the recycled-paper confines of our bag lunches.
Let’s break down the typical bag lunch. First, we have the humble sandwich. I must admit that I am a lover of bag lunch sandwiches. Sue me. I am firmly in the same camp as Liz Lemon when she said in a “30 Rock” episode, “I believe that all anyone really wants in this life is to sit in peace and eat a sandwich.” My sandwich of choice is turkey on wheat accompanied by a tiny packet of mayo. Some may argue that bag lunch sandwiches are too packed with meat and too blasé, but to me, they hit the spot.
However, the rest of the bag lunch leaves much to be desired. Most disappointing is the salad option. I’m not expecting anything spectacular, but it would be nice if our tiny salads came with fresh lettuce and maybe an extra tomato. Then comes all the other lose-lose options. Potato chips are too greasy, but pretzels are too crunchy to eat in class without drawing attention to yourself. Red delicious apples are undisputedly the worst variety of apple, and oranges are too complex to peel in class without getting stuck with sticky fingers halfway through a lecture. The cookie included sometimes has a brief shining moment of redemption, but only if they are relatively fresh. There’s nothing worse than mistaking an oatmeal raisin cookie for chocolate chip.
What the St. Olaf bag lunch needs is a makeover. The sandwiches and drink options can stay, as far as I’m concerned, but the other elements should be modified or more options should be added. The pathetic iceberg lettuce salad should be swapped with a nutritious spinach or garden mix. Several options of cookies should be up for grabs, with easily-packed desserts like brownies and rice krispie bars added to the dessert queue. Things like fruit cups, crudité trays, grilled veggies like the ones in the deli line and different side salads would also be welcomed with open arms. We all know this stuff exists inside the walls of Stav, and it’s time these culinary beauties become available to busy Oles.
Until the glorious day when bag lunches get a facelift, I will continue to order my turkey-on-wheat-no-cheese, hope my tiny bag of carrots isn’t full of stringy rejects and, above all, pray to a higher power that the cookie of the day isn’t oatmeal raisin.