It’s finals season, and for many of us, that means hunkering down in Doe or our dorm or apartment, burrowed so deep inside our piles of notes and essays that it seems like we’ll never find our way out again.
When we’re stressed, we tend to let certain things fall by the wayside, and often, one of those things is our diet. Coffee, Red Bull, boba tea — all good choices when it comes to caffeine, but you have to admit it’s not a meal.
Now, I’m not here to lecture you on healthy eating. No, no. This is all about how to survive finals week as cheaply as possible.
These are the things you’re going to need:
A starch for stamina: Pasta, rice, potato — whatever floats your boat, and maybe more than one to balance it out.
A protein for perseverance: Chicken, eggs, sausage — whatever your body is craving (and that has a long enough sell-by date that it doesn’t go bad before you can eat it).
A sauce for success: Red sauce, white sauce, curry sauce, 21 Seasoning Salute from Trader Joe’s, something that goes beyond salt and pepper.
A few extras for exams: Mixed vegetables (frozen last longer), avocados, oranges, whatever will make your meal go the extra mile.
“What if I only have a microwave?” you ask.
“Well, young Padawan,” I say patiently. “Your basic plasticware can help with many of these issues.”
“Even pasta and rice?”
As an example, here’s a list of my own core ingredients: Avocado, Italian sausage, hash browns, eggs, a loaf of whole wheat bread, linguini pasta, red sauce, jasmine rice, curry sauce and a bag of frozen mixed vegetables.
Here are just a few ways I’ve mixed and matched to keep my belly full and my brain happy:
Italian fusion: You will need pasta, a sauce and a protein
For microwaving with plasticware, microwave the water for five minutes first and then add your pasta. If you are cooking for one, don’t use the whole bag or box — take about a third. If the noodles are too long for the plasticware, break them in half. Then try cooking them for another five minutes, checking them occasionally.
Then cook your protein (preferably on a stove — always check to make sure that your protein can be cooked in the microwave before attempting it), cook the sauce last (it takes the shortest amount of time), and you should be good to go.
Asian fusion: You will need rice or ramen, a sauce and a protein (and frozen veggies!)
For microwaving rice, it might take closer to 25 minutes, but it doesn’t need to be watched in the same way that pasta does. Cook your protein in your sauce — a bottle of Thai or Indian curry sauce can really improve whatever you’re making — and then add the frozen veggies. If you’re making it for yourself, you don’t need to use the whole bag of vegetables or the whole bottle of sauce unless you are creating multiple meals for yourself, but meal-prepping is always a good idea, too!
Brinner: You will need a protein and a starch
It doesn’t matter what time it is; breakfast is satisfying for any meal. If you have eggs, a spice (21 Seasoning Salute, or even the classic salt and pepper) and a starch (toast or potato/hash browns), you’re set! Add another protein (and maybe avocado) for extra yum.
Once you’ve got those core ingredients down, nothing can stop you. Go forth and eat — Your GPA will thank you later.