Making Your Food Last through Finals by Planning Ahead

Story by Megan O’Neil
Feature Photo via Flickr

With the end of the semester right around the corner, many CMU students are getting ready for a big move. Whether you’re graduating this spring or planning to return in the fall, packing everything up may be in your near future.

Finding enough boxes and bags to haul everything in, let alone making all the trips can be difficult enough, but what about you’re pantry?

Its better to get a head start on planning what you’ll be eating during finals week than be neck deep in cramming for exams, and stuck between having no food and not wanting to get groceries.

When you’re getting ready to move, there’s that constant internal monologue of “I can get by for X amount of days without a trip to the store” and “I literally have no food in my house.”

Ideally, planning can take you to the brink of your last day hunger free, and minimize the amount of food you’ll end up throwing out. Here are a few simple steps to preparing your meal plan.

Undated leftovers, moldy brea  and food far past its expiration date have been known to crowd many a pantry or a refrigerator shelf. Throw them out so you can accurately determine how much edible food you have left.

Take inventory.
There’s no point in buying more of something so close to the end of the year if you already have plenty. You may also find items you forgot you had, like chia seeds, and can start planning to add them in to dishes to get rid of them before move out. You’re going to be at a point where you don’t want to take half a bag of something, but you would also feel bad throwing it out.

Plan your meals.
Before heading to the store, plan meals around what you already have. If you find out you can comfortably survive through your finals, why waste money on a load of groceries you don’t even need?

Fill in the gaps.
So maybe you have lots of rice, sweet potatoes, and miscellaneous vegetables left in your cupboard. This sounds like a great start to some sort of stir fry, but if you do decide to go to the store, picking up something to season it with wouldn’t be a bad idea either.

Experiencing the worst-case scenario
What if you’re already out of food? If you already desperately need to go shopping, pick up things you know you go through vey fast, and keep your meal planning in mind. Now probably isn’t the time to buy things in bulk, but it can be the time to make a very slim grocery list.

This author sticks to a pretty basic template of bread, milk, eggs, rice, miscellaneous fruits and veggies, a protein of choice, peanut butter and some sort of sauce.

Assuming you still have some sort of cooking oil, you can make egg scrambles with the eggs and veggies for breakfast, eat some fruit or toast for a snack, a sandwich for lunch and do something with the veggies, rice, and your protein of choice – beans, chicken, salmon, beef – for dinner.

Plan ahead! Don’t let yourself be one of the people who finds themselves forgetting about move out and throwing your entire pantry away!