Cramming for exams and looming project deadlines can make the clock seem to speed up. Suddenly you’ll look up and it’s mid afternoon and other than an endless cup of coffee you haven’t consumed much else. If this sounds like you then set an alarm for regular meals and snacks and, leave your computer for a bit to eat. Your brain will appreciate the break to reset. Don't try to prepare fancy or difficult meals, but stick to the basic plate method of eating – ½ a plate of vegetables, ¼ plate of carbohydrates and ¼ plate of protein.
Foods to help keep you focussed include:
Carbohydrates – aim for whole grains like wholegrain bread, brown rice, quinoa, oats
Proteins – aim for lean meats like pork schnitzel, legumes like lentils and natural nuts and seeds
Vegetables – always try to "eat a rainbow". Aim for a range of vegetables and remember, these don’t need to be fresh; frozen or tinned vegetables are a great way to keep up the vege intake on a student budget.
A couple of our favourite options for breakfast and lunch are:
These give your all the goodness of eggs with the calcium and protein hit of halloumi and the added treat of a bit of bacon to start the day
Taking a 15 minute break to cure the pork for lunch is a good way to reset the brain mid-morning and disconnect from the computer instead of some mindless social media scrolling! Then come lunch time you'll have delicious lean protein ready to eat.
When you’re stressed, you might crave sweet and salty foods like chips and chocolates, but beware of these convenience foods. They’re empty calories that your brain won’t thank you for. in fact you’re more likely to find your energy crash from high sugar products, leaving you tired and even less enthused about the study in front of you.
The best option for your study brain will be a snack with a wholegrain, vegetable or fruit base combined with protein foods like seed/nut butters, cottage cheese or Greek yoghurt to keep you fuller for longer.
One of the easiest ways to save time cooking (and also money) is to cook in bulk. It may get a little boring to eat the exact same thing, but if you choose a versatile meat base, you can then change out the vegetable and carbohydrate portions to get multiple different meals out of one cook.
For example, whip up a double batch of our Pork Spaghetti Bolognese. Use this base for a New Zealand pork lasagne and then add some beans and spice for a variation of our Neato Nachos. If you’re a solo student just cooking for yourself, you’ll be filling the freezer with a couple of weeks worth of food and not feeling like it’s groundhog day every dinner time.
You can read more of our tips for batch cooking here
Water is your friend. Coffee and other caffeinated or sugar packed drinks are not. After an initial energy boost, too much of these drinks will leave you feeling more tired, anxious and jittery than before so try to limit your intake of these drinks.
If you struggle to get enthused by plain water, here’s a few ways to jazz it up.
Get some sparkle in it - If you have a Soda Stream or similar machine you can have sparkling water without buying it bottled.
Try infused water – adding fruit or vegetables to a jug of water gives it a delicious flavour. We like orange, lemon, cucumber and mint. Try having a jug of this on your desk while you study; you'll be subconsciously refilling your cup throughout the day!
Give herbal iced tea a go – look for decaffeinated and sugar free varieties for a bit of a change.
Sleep is generally more beneficial than an all-nighter so make sure you get some rest. Limiting the sugar and caffeine you’re consuming will go a long way to helping you achieve this.