Food ideas to get you through your semester

Now that the March Break, we are truly in the final stretch of the semester. If you have fallen into a slump and gotten tired of the same old meals, I have some food options that will hopefully inspire you! Grounded upon the idea of cheap, quick-and-easy options, I've compiled some meals and snacks to spice up your day.


BREAKFAST

I used to never eat breakfast during high school (and the vast majority of my undergrad). But with practicum from Monday to Thursday, I find that I always need something to get me through the morning. For breakfast, I always look for options that are grab 'n' go, and more on the carb-heavy side.


Oatmeal

I personally like to use a packet of Quaker's instant oatmeal packet in regular, and then add my own toppings and sweetness. Some honey, fresh fruit, and chia seeds can go a long way. I like to keep all my ingredients prepped beforehand and stored in the fridge, then I just add hot water the next morning. Since I like my meals hot, this has been my go-to during the cold and windy days.


Overnight oats


If you have not heard of the overnight oats craze, well let me fill you in. These are amazing, and you can even make them in bulk! Simply fill a mason jar (or container) with regular oats, yogurt, milk of your choice, and other yummy food items such as fruits and nuts. Feel free to experiment, or follow the hundreds of recipes floating around online.


Steamed root vegetables


I know this one is a bit off the beaten track, but it is actually what my family and I grew up eating. I normally buy either some baby taro or sweet potato, steam a few on Sunday night, and then grab them as I leave the house every morning. Sweet potatoes are naturally sweet, so no flavouring is necessary. As for taro, I normally eat it as is, but I know that some may dip it in some salt or sugar depending on their personal preference. Not only are root vegetables super filling, they are such healthy carb options! Though this might seem a bit unusual or daunting of a breakfast idea, I encourage everyone to give it a try.


Smoothies


I love them because you can literally put anything inside. The vast majority of ingredients used for oatmeal or overnight oats can go straight into a smoothie, so no extra food purchasing is required! I personally like to sleep in on Friday mornings since I only have class at 9:30AM, and so I just grab these on the way out the door and drink it either during my commute or in class.


SNACK

The following are my personal, tried and true, go-to snacks. Maybe it's because we're around kids a lot, but I've noticed that my classmates and I (as well as most teachers), seem to be constantly snacking throughout the day. While there's a myriad of snacks to choose from, I personally lean towards ones that are clean, easy, and filling. I'm also a huge fan of nuts, so while I would love to bring almonds and pistachios everyday, this is also school-friendly (because the MA-CSE building has a nut-free building policy).


Celery & Carrots with dip

They are great for munching, super easy to prepare, and great for class. I always stock up on celery and carrots anyways, since they are such versatile ingredients for meals and soup making.


Apples & Oranges

I know, I know. Boring. But I've come to realize that as basic as these fruit items are, they are also the most durable in your lunch bag. I also love a good pomelo or some cantaloupe and papaya. However, these fruits not only need to be prepared beforehand, they also need to be cut or stored a certain way. Meanwhile, apples and oranges are both tried and true, they can usually withstand some rough handling, and can be eaten whole. So in a pinch? Bring an apple!


Cheese

If you are a cheese lover, it's always a good idea to buy some of your favourites, cut it up, and eat it with a few crackers. If you are not picky, mini Babybels and cheese strings are a great way to keep you going throughout the day.


Hummus & crackers

A classic and a personal favourite, you can buy these two items in bulk at Costco and stock up.


Grapes

Not only are they sweet and filling, I find that they do wonders in helping me stay awake in my classes. If you want to change things up, consider also freezing your grapes, they make a wonderful dessert!


Trail mix

Simply stock up on the ingredients, get a big empty jar or container, and make your own trail mix so that it is school-friendly. Some foods that you can include are: mini wheat, raisins, pumpkin seeds, pretzels and chocolate chips.


Pop corn

Though they do take up quite a bit of space in your lunch bag, I find that their lightweight makes up for it.


LUNCH

I personally hate staying in the kitchen for too long, so I never go out of my way to make dishes that involve too much prep time. The following are some of my favourite meals to bring with me into a school or class.


Chickpea salad wrap

I probably eat some variation of this meal three out of the four weeks per month. This is by far the fastest food prep meal that I've encountered, and it tastes amazing. As with all wraps and salads, you can easily swap ingredients in and out, depending on how your fridge is looking.


Couscous salad with butternut squash and cranberries


I have always loved couscous, how it is just such an easy ingredient to work with. Similar to quinoa, whatever salad you make with it can be stored in the fridge for the week.


Pan-roasted chicken and veggies


I also love to bake my meals, because that means I can finally leave my kitchen when the cooking is happening. Pan-roasting an entire meal is usually my meal of choice, because it means that there are also less dishes to wash.


FOOD STORAGE

Now this category is not exactly food, but over the years as both a student and an educator, I've picked up some tips and tricks for how to carry food around.


Reusable sandwich and snack bags


Think Ziploc bags, but sturdier and more long lasting. Though I simply lug all my food in a bunch of containers all day, I do have classmates who use them, and they are so great for the environment! While there are a lot of brands out there, this website has compiled a helpful review of some of the best; they're all easily found on Amazon as well.


Lunch tote bag



If you were like me in undergrad, you probably did not carry a lunch box with you to class. Everything could fit into my oversized tote, and I did not see the need to lug extra stuff. However, once I got into OISE, I found myself snacking a lot more throughout the day, and really needing a separate bag for my food. With so many different options out there (straps or no straps, insulated or non-insulated), I strongly everyone to at least check it out!


Chopsticks


Now, this one may also be very left-field, but let me explain why. If you know how to use chopsticks (and are quite comfortable with them), consider bringing a pair along. Whenever I eat my lunches at school, I always use either a fork or spoon, but my chopsticks are actually used during class time, whenever I want to snack and take notes at the same time. There is nothing like wanting to eat some Cheetos, only to be restricted by the messiness of the snack. Though this is just one extreme example, it obviously can be applied to any snack that you eat in class.


With all of this information, I hope that even if not every idea was new or revolutionary, at least something sparked your interests and that you will be willing to try them out :)