When you start your junior year at Princeton, a new question becomes a part of the classic small-talk lexicon — “Where do you eat?” This strange question is in reference to the abundant dining choices available to upperclass students. In addition to the dining hall, they are presented with a multitude of dining choices, from joining a co-op or an eating club to going independent. Everyone has to figure out their approach to meals.
Many Princeton students turn to eating clubs. Eating clubs are a concept unique to Princeton and serve as social and culinary hubs on campus. During the second semester of sophomore year, students sign-up or participate in a selection process, called “bicker” to be in a club where they will eat most of their meals. The eating clubs are clustered on Prospect Avenue adjacent to the University. For generations, many Princeton students have had great experiences with eating clubs and relish this unique part of their time at Princeton. That said, eating clubs are not the only options.
Students who don’t join eating clubs and choose not to eat in the dining halls have several options, one of which is dining co-ops. Co-ops are food-share programs where small groups of Princeton students (usually around 30) come together and cook fresh, tasty meals for one another. As a co-op member, you are expected to cook once a week and the costs are very affordable. There are various types of co-ops on campus that cook foods catering to different cuisine types and preferences.
This year, I joined the Pink House food share. Pink House is a sustainability-minded community that cooks vegan and vegetarian meals for a community of about 25. As a part of Pink House, I have access to a real kitchen and fresh ingredients when I cook once a week. It is an excellent way to unwind, de-stress and learn some valuable cooking skills. So far this year, I have enjoyed experimenting with hearty stews, zesty salads and delicious baked goods. I have also enjoyed having fun and conversations with my fellow cooks.
Because I am vegan, I knew it would take me a while to figure out what other options, outside of the dining halls, were available to me, but my experience at Pink House showed me that there really are options for everyone.