As final exams and deadlines approach, spending time in the kitchen is the last thing on my mind.
Trust me — I’m definitely the type of person who prefers making a run to Chipotle or to pick up Chinese over spending valuable study time in the kitchen. It only took a week of eating out for practically every meal to whittle my bank account to nearly nothing.
In the grand scheme of finals week, it’s hard to prioritize eating well with studying hard. I still find it difficult to take a half hour or so away from the books to whip up a meal. I have, however, figured out a few tips to make eating over finals week less of a chore.
Perhaps the most important thing to do is to plan ahead. Pick a day early in the week and make something that will yield a lot of leftovers, like stew or lasagna. Take a half hour and make up Tupperware containers to take along to the library. If you’ll be back from the library early, set your slow cooker up before you leave. One single day of preparation will save you tons of time and money in the long run.
If you find yourself with enough time to eat, but not enough time to cook a full meal, fall back on the old college standby — ramen. Instead of mixing the noodles with only the seasoning packet, dress it up. My favorite twist on ramen is to stir in a spoonful of peanut butter and a squeeze of sriracha to make spicy Thai peanut noodles. Or mix in some taco seasoning and a spoon of salsa for a Mexican take. There are countless ways to keep ramen from getting boring.
Below are two recipes for finals food: one to make ahead and reheat, and one that can be eaten hot or cold.
1 package of stew meat
3 cans (6 oz.) of tomato sauce
1 potato, cubed
3 carrots, sliced
1 cup green beans, canned or frozen
1 cup corn, canned or frozen
1 cup peas, canned or frozen
Any other preferred vegetables
Enough water, broth or beer to cover
Garlic, salt, pepper and onion powder to taste
Heat your pot on the stove on medium. Cut stew meat into bite-sized pieces, put into pot and sprinkle spices on top of meat. Stir occasionally and cook until browned all over. Add tomato sauce, vegetables and liquid to cover (my favorite liquid to use is a dark beer, like a stout). Turn heat to low and simmer uncovered while you study for your next exam, stirring occasionally. When the vegetables are tender, you’re ready to go.
1 cup quinoa
1 can black beans
1 can corn
1 jar salsa
Shredded cheddar cheese to top
Cook quinoa according to package directions. Study. When quinoa is finished, add beans, corn and salsa. Mix thoroughly. Separate into several Tupperware containers and top with cheese.
You can eat this dish either hot or cold, and it travels well, making it a great meal to take to the library.
Eating well during finals week is a cinch if you do a bit of planning ahead. Hopefully these recipes inspire you to save your bank account for holiday gifts instead!