A meal at Brown

Juniors and seniors at Princeton have several eating options. Many become members of eating clubs, some elect to eat in residential college dining halls, some choose to “go independent” and cook food for themselves, and some join co-ops. I chose this final option and joined Brown Co-op.

Brown has around 30 members, and we have our own kitchen and dining room on the second floor of Brown Hall, a campus dormitory. We get regular food deliveries from a company that typically supplies businesses, so our pantries are always full.  

Once a week, each member joins a cook team of around four people to prepare dinner for the whole co-op. Here’s how a typical cook night goes down:

10 a.m.:  Select the meat 

Princeton has three co-ops: 2D, a vegetarian co-op; IFC, a co-op that focuses on international food; and Brown. Since Brown has no official theme, we joke that our unofficial theme is meat.  We eat meat nearly every night, and always have lots on hand. Each morning, a member of that night’s cook team will select a type of meat to defrost.  

4:30 p.m.:  Meet as a team and decide what to make 

Our pantry: so many possibilities!
Our pantry: so many possibilities!

We usually don’t plan meals in advance, so we start by looking around the kitchen to see what ingredients are available. The team then decides who will cook the meat, who will cook a vegetable, who will cook some sort of grain, and who will cook dessert.  I love making desserts, so I always hope for that job.

5:30 p.m.:  Cooking!! 

Our kitchen, where the magic happens!
Our kitchen, where the magic happens!

Cooking is always an adventure at Brown. A cook team has two hours to prepare food for 30 people, so we have little room for error. But nearly every night something goes wrong—we suddenly realize we’re out of eggs, the oven starts to smoke, or a burner stops working.  Somehow, though, everything always comes together in the end.

6:30 p.m.: Dinner time

One night's dinner: chicken, potatoes, and salad
One night's dinner: chicken, potatoes, and salad

Around 6:30 p.m., hungry co-op members start to arrive and begin to eat. Everyone sits around a long table, and we have lively conversations while enjoying our food.

7:15 p.m.: Cleaning up and saying goodbye

After dinner, the cook team cleans the kitchen and says goodbye, leaving with good memories of cooking and eating! 

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