While you’re writing that paper, having someone else do all the “cooking” for you.
Curled up on the floor, gnawing on the dog’s chew toy, weak from hunger: This could be you if you don’t know how to balance basic human needs with rigorous grad school work.
Here are five ways to not pass out from starvation during grad school.
1. Instant food is your best friend
You need instant oatmeal, ramen noodles and foods that only require a little liquid if you plan on surviving grad school. Sure, it’s not a wise long-term plan, but it will at the very least get rid of the hunger pains that so often interfere with productivity.
Josiah Marineau, a political science doctorate student at the University of Texas at Austin, thinks that Top Ramen and kimchi noodles are always a winner, but that Cup Noodles can sometimes backfire.
“If you go through the time and effort to prepare them and stand around for two minutes as it cools, there are certain expectations,” Marineau said. “But then you eat it and just feel sad. It’s just kind of bland. It’s trying to be Top Ramen, but it’s not.”
An investment in a few well-chosen condiments, like the popular Thai Sriracha chili sauce, can help with any bland noodle emergency you might have.
2. Juice up your studies
If you don’t own a blender or juicer yet, get one. They can be expensive, but you can find a good juicer or blender for under $100. Making healthy concoctions from fresh fruits and vegetables could help balance out the late-night pizzas you are sure to consume during your grad school years.
There are plenty of great recipe books and websites out there. One of my personal favorites is Juicingpedia. On top of great, simple recipes (such as the after-lunch snack of spinach, peach and mint), the site has several subcategories to help you quickly figure out what combination you might want.
Juicers and blenders are simple to use, a great investment and often only require putting the contents in and pressing a button. My suggestion: Check out the Vitamix. It’s just over $400, keeps the pulp intact (which is healthier) and is powerful enough to juice nearly anything.
3. Drop some hints
I like to think of this desperate approach as giving someone an opportunity to serve the less fortunate. Here’s how it works.
When hanging out with a friend, significant other or family member who’s much better off than you (a.k.a., pretty much everyone NOT in school), make your lack of food prep time and/or poverty known. This can be through words or actions. Maybe you wear an outfit that accentuates your malnourished figure. Maybe you throw a subtle hint into a conversation about involuntary fasting. Or maybe something more direct, like saying, “Yeah, I remember the days I used to eat.”
In this tactic, you use any means necessary to get them to bring you food and keep you nourished long enough to finish your grad degree. Marineau sometimes does this with his wife.
“I try to put on a puppy dog face with my wife when working on a paper and don’t want to cook,” he said. “She usually complies, but she starts to catch on after a while.”
4. Snack + snack = meal
I’ve developed a habit that has some grocery-store cashiers giving me strange looks.
Due to not wanting to cook or prepare food, I’ll sometimes go to the grocery store and buy random items: a combination of foods meant to be snacks that add up to a meal. A favorite combo of mine is an orange, Greek yogurt, a bagel and a pickle.
“There are certain substances that you can trick your body into thinking it’s food, like coffee, gummy bears and tortilla chips,” Marineau said.
The punk rocker in me argues that there are no rules. Don’t let society tell you what constitutes a meal. Marineau agrees, adding that society can tell him whatever it wants but it doesn’t mean he’ll listen.
5. Drive thru and delivery
These seem like obvious options for the starving grad student but any survival list without them is incomplete.
Delivery is a classic option for grad students too busy or bogged down to make or pick up food. While working on that grad school paper or studying for an exam, it’s convenient to have someone else do all the work for you. Chinese and pizza joints often offer this service. Thankfully, many places allow you to order online. If you’re dazed from 12 straight hours of studying and can’t string together a coherent string of words, this is preferable.
Drive thru is a personal favorite of mine, since my hunger often precedes my getting dressed. People at the pickup window either can’t see you’re still in pajamas or don’t care.
Just remember: If you want to be successful in grad school — or even in sustaining your life, it just so happens — you need to eat. Take these options seriously.
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