Fast and easy meal ideas for finals week

For students feeling the pressure of finals, food columnist Jessica Kremer offers easy-to-prepare meal ideas.


Veggie potstickers, along with rice and a green salad, make for a quick meal when time is limited. | Jessica Kremer/THE CHIMES

Jessica Kremer, Writer

Veggie potstickers, along with rice and a green salad, make for a quick meal when time is limited. | All photos courtesy of Jessica Kremer

Once upon a time, there was a girl who was graduating college. She was consumed with the tensions of graduation and the uncertainty that was before her. Finding an answer to the question, “What are you going to do after you graduate?” was driving her crazy because in a matter of weeks, she would be living the answer to that question, whatever it would be.

To top it all off, the many assignments and responsibilities involved with wrapping up her degree did not decrease because she needed time for job interviews. Life moved faster and faster and she felt like a hamster on a wheel running to keep up.

I’m sure many of us who are graduating feel that way. I do, at least. I need as much time as I can get so I can study for tests, prepare for my senior voice recital (Come see it! Tuesday, May 17 at 7:30 p.m. in Crowell Hall –– there’s free food) and somehow find the job I want in time for graduation.

There’s no time for elaborate cooking experiments or lounging around –– its time to focus. So I “sold out” and bought some quick, simple meal options to get me through finals as efficiently as possible. Today I’ll share some of those ideas with you, as well as a tasty recipe just in case you need a study break.

Simple and quick meal ideas

This option is obvious but it must be mentioned: buy a jar of pre-made pasta sauce and a bag of dried pasta. They will cover several meals, cost you well under four dollars and take less than 15 minutes to prepare. Grab some greens from the store and make a healthy salad to accompany your jar-born pasta masterpiece.

Need a quick breakfast? Try Cream of Wheat! It takes less than 10 minutes to prepare from start to finish, depending on how quickly your water boils. It also has an incredible texture and tastes fantastic once you know how to doctor it up. Follow the directions on the container to prepare, then give it your own twist.

Some people like milk and sugar. Others add a little — or a lot — of butter. I have been making a slightly healthier alternative, sweetening my wheat with Stevia, a healthy zero-calorie sweetener, and then adding some honey to give it that aroma we all love. Cream of Wheat is a great start to the morning and is convenient as well as satisfying.

Last week, I used tortillas, shredded cabbage, hummus, lemon, black beans, tomatoes and cilantro to make refreshing hummus wraps. Preparing them took only a little time and they were excellent to wrap up and bring with me on the go. You can create your own variation of wraps, which is just what I did.

You might also try garden or salmon burgers for a quick meal, or something of the kind. Do not feel obligated to heat these up to accompany a bun because they could go over a salad just as easily.

Need a snack? Make some edamame, as they’re high in protein and so fun to eat. Fresh and Easy has a good deal with edamame costing around $1.50.

One of my favorite purchases last week was a four dollar bag of veggie potstickers. They are easy to prepare but taste like they took hours to make. Get creative with that frozen section of the grocery store to get you through finals week.

Sweet potato fries recipe

If these are all too quick for your taste, try this recipe for sweet potato fries.

You need:
Sweet potatoes
1 tablespoon of olive oil
Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 350. Meanwhile, chop up the sweet potatoes into thin, long slices. Put them in a plastic bag and drizzle in one tablespoon of olive oil. Seal the bag and shake them up. Add a little salt and pepper into the bag and toss until well mixed.

Empty the bag onto a baking sheet and spread out the fries. Bake them for 20 minutes or until you have them as brown as you like them.

I hope these ideas help you make it through the final push into finals or graduation. They are certainly helping me.

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