As I mentioned previously in the part I of this series [exam fuel – snacks], trying to cook and eat healthily around exam time can appear a total nightmare. Believe me, I’ve been there. You’re exhausted and the all-day study session has really gotten to you. The last thing you want to do is stand for roughly an hour in the kitchen making lunch/dinner AND do the washing up. However, cooking delicious-nourishing food doesn’t have to take hours to make, be super complicated or expensive!
Yes, OK, it does require a little bit of preparation but during exam time, your body will thank you for fuelling it with goodness. As well, nowadays there are some great on-the-go options for you to grab, and the services at QMU played a big part in keeping me well-fed throughout exams.
Firstly, some meal idea tips:
- Preparation: As boring as it sounds, this really is key to success, because it will save you time in the long run. Make a big pot of something, like a curry and use the leftovers for the next day or even better, freeze portions so they’ll be ready whenever you are! A big batch of vegetables can be roasted off, drizzled with a little lemon juice, seasoned will salt and pepper and kept refrigerated in a Tupperware box for up to three days. So will quinoa, couscous or any other time of grain, if you add a little extra virgin olive oil to the cooked grain. Doing this will really save time if you don’t have time to cook close to a deadline,although it’s best to not try this with rice as it has quite a high food-poisoning tendency. Use prep time to chill out and enjoy some time away from the computer, as well as catch up with flat mates! Stuck for packed lunch ideas? Just fill a lunchbox with some of the roasted veggies, a drizzling of olive oil, lemon juice, whole-grains, protein source (chicken, beans or hummus), sliced fresh vegetables, seeds/nuts for added crunch and tadaaa – an amazingly filling portable lunch.
- Cupboard life-savers: All canned goods are essential for making a quick and tasty meal. Think chopped tomatoes and coconut milk as well as canned chickpeas and kidney beans, which will are a great addition to boost the nutritional value of any meal. Seasonings are amazing also; garlic and ginger puree (buy in Tescos), chilli flakes, paprika – whatever you fancy! These will quickly spruce up a meal and make it taste x100 times better.
- Supermarkets: Nowadays, supermarkets have really stepped up their health game! There’s such an array of amazing salads, sandwiches and snacks on offer which will provide all the nutrients you need for studying. However, look for the ‘traffic light’ system on the front of food packaging. If there is red signalling, especially for sugar or saturated fats, it’s best to avoid that food item as this means that it’s full of stuff, that will give you a sugar-rush temporarily but will leave you feeling sluggish an hour later. Not ideal for exam-time.
- 1875 @ QMU: This place, if not already, will be your favourite go-to. I absolutely love the breakfast club that has so much on offer, for example a porridge bar, fruit salad, bagels etc. So great if you want to hit the library early and didn’t have time for breakfast at home! The lunches are also really great. I love to fill up a big box from the salad bar, filled with lots of lovely vegetables, whole-grains like couscous, and drizzling it all with the lovely oils. The ginger-infused olive oil is my favourite. Also the shop has some yummy healthy snacks, including ‘Nakd Bars’. I tend to go for either fresh fruit or ‘Propercorn’ popcorn if I want something crunchy.
I hope you found these tips to healthy-eating around exam season somewhat helpful - and all the best in your exams!