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Meal Prep Hacks for Finals Week

Each week, I will contribute an article to my food column: College Cooking, where I will share recipes and opinions on food trends and culture. To see more of what I like to cook and bake, check out my personal food Instagram at @healthy_eclair.

As I addressed in my previous article, it is essential to practice healthy eating habits during Zoom university and finals season. Even if you feel pressed for time to meet deadlines, fueling your body with food will guarantee better productivity. That being said, meal prep can help make preparing meals during finals week less stressful. Here are a few hacks that I employ almost every week whether I am cranking for finals or binge-watching The Undoing on HBO.

 Overnight oats are a night owl’s best friend

While overnight oats are the perfect way to make a hot bowl of oatmeal bearable in the summer months, this easy and quick breakfast is the perfect summer trend to revive during finals. My favorite recipe is Minimalist Baker’s Peanut Butter Overnight Oats as you only need five ingredients: plant-based milk, rolled oats, chia seeds, peanut butter, and your sweetener of choice (optional). I have made this recipe countless times and experiment with fun toppings from banana slices, strawberries, to cinnamon. If you prefer a warm bowl of oatmeal in the morning, you can always pop your overnight oats in the microwave for a minute or two!

Boiled eggs when you are boiling over with stress

Speaking of breakfast, boiling a few eggs to keep in the refrigerator (shelled) is also a time saver for breakfast. NYTimes Cooking has this helpful post about how long you should boil your eggs to guarantee your ideal amount of runniness or lack thereof. For a more runny egg, I boil my eggs for six to seven minutes, but when I am boiling eggs to use over the next few days I prefer them to be cooked more and will keep them in the pot for up to nine minutes. Eggs are a perfect addition to avocado toast or even a salad later in the day to get some extra protein.

Choose a vegetable and roast it #roasted

Another time-saving hack is roasting a bunch of veggies, or a protein such as chicken sausage or tofu if you so desire, at the beginning of the week so you have these as add ons for a salad, sandwich, or a side dish at dinner. My favorite items to roast are sweet potatoes, broccoli, and brussel sprouts as I find all three of these foods pair well with a harvest bowl, veggie sandwich, or on top of a bowl of pasta. Roasting veggies is also super easy: all you need is your vegetable of choice, olive oil, and salt and paper to taste. You can also add onion and garlic powder too if you want to get fancy. NYTimes Cooking also has a super helpful graphic on their Instagram which lists out the appropriate temperatures and amount of time for cooking for a bunch of different vegetables. I often reference this helpful cheat sheet!

Grainy days for rainy afternoons

On the topic of warm bowls filled with yummy vegetables, it is also helpful to make a bunch of rice, quinoa, or farro on Sunday night so you can have this particular grain for salads or dinner throughout the week. All three are easy to cook and only require the particular grain and water. Quinoa pairs well with kale and roasted sweet potatoes but I have found myself opting for farro lately and pairing it with sauteed greens and a boiled egg––or pretty much anything I have on hand.

 Something spreadable if you are feeling fancy

Something which I have not always done in the past, but which I have realized via Thanksgiving leftovers this year, is that having something spreadable in the fridge like cranberry sauce, pesto, or hummus is a great way to spice up sandwiches and paninis. Whether you make pesto from scratch to have with pasta or buy hummus from the store, I find this an easy way to make a turkey sandwich or grilled cheese more exciting.

Those are some tips and tricks for eating well this finals season; good luck camels!

Elizabeth Berry

Conn Coll '21

Elizabeth Berry is an English and Italian Studies double major at Connecticut College with a passion for journalism. She enjoys overnight oats, traveling to new cities, and reading the night away.
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