How do I find time to eat?
January 11, 2006 12:03 PM   Subscribe

I haven't got a free moment during the day. When do I eat; how do I find time?

I'm starting my fourth semester of college and have taken on two part time jobs to pay for the expenses related to living on my own. One is on-campus work study and fills up the blanks between my classes. As for the other job... Although I got hired at a nice, well-paying sedentary job with flexible hours, they need me to train daily for two weeks, which means showing up from either 8am - noon or 5pm - 9pm every day. This is really difficult to do, as I have to skip a class or two here and there to fit in the training and take time (about fifteen minutes) to commute and find parking. I don't believe they need to give me lunch time at the job training since it's only four hours a day.

My problem is that this leaves me absolutely no time to have a decent lunch or dinner. I'll be going usually from 8am - 9pm (work in the morning and night classes, or vice versa) without so much as time for bathroom breaks for these first two weeks of training. If I do eat, it needs to be a meal while I'm walking or in the car. Is there any way I can healthily push back my meal times to have dinner after nine o'clock? I can't space meals out too far because I get a massive headache. How do you fare meal-wise when your schedule is packed tight? I'm looking for some ideas both for meals and for finding an excuse to eat.
posted by sian to Food & Drink (24 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I cannot vouch for the healthfulness of this suggestion, but I find that Power Bars, Slim Fast shakes (not for weight loss, I just think they taste good), and yogurt smoothies are great when I'm running around. Also, I usually keep a few granola bars on hand for a snack. But make sure you at least have a decent breakfast.
posted by amro at 12:16 PM on January 11, 2006

Cereal bars, chocolate, energy drinks, nuts, water, juice, all well-spaced during the day. Notice all those can even be eaten during classes without much fuzz. A good breakfast and a nutritious but light (some people have trouble sleeping if they eat too much near bedtime) late dinner. Soups or meat and salad, for instance.

And get over yourself, you sound like someone just out of your Mommy's house - it's two weeks, not two decades. You could practically go without eating for the duration if you really needed to.
posted by nkyad at 12:18 PM on January 11, 2006

String cheese and hard boiled eggs are what I would make for myself in similar situations. I'd peel and freeze the eggs and carry them in tupperware - by the time it was time to eat they'd have thawed. These things have the advantage of not being sugar-laden junk and would keep my blood sugar relatively stable so I wouldnt get a big old headache.
posted by selfmedicating at 12:19 PM on January 11, 2006

Healthy fruit and veggie snacks that don't need to be refrigerated. A baggie of baby carrots, a couple of apples or oranges, raisins and nuts, crackers. And/or, you could have a small cooler in your car and keep a couple of sandwiches and some juice in there with an ice pack for a "while you're walking or in the car" meal.

Make sure you eat some breakfast in the morning, too.
posted by Gator at 12:20 PM on January 11, 2006

Is it healthy to eat after nine? Of course it is. You need food to heal and refuel, but keep any carbs you eat low glycemic and stay off the sugar that late.

It's not so much when you eat but how much and what it is.
posted by rinkjustice at 12:21 PM on January 11, 2006

Rice & beans (borlotti, black, red, black-eye, aduki etc.) will give you a lot of what you need nutritionally. (Staple diet of 60% of the world's population.)

Add in some of these chopped small & sautéed: onions, mushrooms, bell pepper, zucchini, broccoli, sprouted seeds, snow peas etc.

Make up a batch for 4 days & keep in a sealed container in the refrigerator.

To eat whilst you're driving, get one of those Rubbermaid sealed drinks bottles with a wide mouth big enough for however many portions you need at a time, add in the rice mix with:

Condiments: Soy sauce, tamari, hot sauce etc.

You can 'drink' in the car or take a spoon to use at the lights of if you do get a chance to catch a few seconds feeding time.

And drink lots of water - not to much soda, coffee etc.

Nuts, dried &/or fresh fruit, carrots etc for snacks inbetween.

The trick is to keep your energy level up by grazing rather than going for a big meal at the end of the day.

Good luck!
posted by i_cola at 12:30 PM on January 11, 2006

String cheese and hard boiled eggs

...could help you avoid those longer bathroom breaks...?!? ;-)
posted by i_cola at 12:34 PM on January 11, 2006

I find Tasty Bite meals to be inexpensive and fairly, well, tasty. They are Indian cuisine in a pouch. If you're desperate you can even eat them cold, otherwise, heat them up in some boiling water or micro.
posted by ArcAm at 12:42 PM on January 11, 2006

I like the chocolate Boost or Ensure drinks for times like this -- there's a version of Ensure that comes with extra protein, too. They're best cold, though, if you can find a way to keep them chilled before you drink them (maybe a cold pack of some sort?).
posted by scody at 12:44 PM on January 11, 2006

Great suggestions :) Thank you, everyone. I adore hard-boiled eggs and would like one right... about... now.

nkyad: Okay, since I don't really need to eat, then do you have a cure for the migraine problem?
posted by sian at 12:56 PM on January 11, 2006

Just ignore nykad. He/she sounds like someone who's never gone to school full time and worked two jobs to pay for it.

All of the snack suggestions are good. I second the point about eating small amounts throughout the day. It'll keep your energy and metabolism up. Discreet, snackable foods and high-quality juices can be consumed during class and commutes without a problem. Have a good breakfast, even if you have to drag yourself out of bed at 6am to do it, and eat a light dinner. I had an 7am-10pm jam-packed schedule for a full year at school when I had to commute on my bike, and your body will adjust pretty quickly.
posted by booknerd at 1:08 PM on January 11, 2006

booknerd : "Just ignore nykad. He/she sounds like someone who's never gone to school full time and worked two jobs to pay for it."

He if you will, and yet "he" went through college with a full-time job. On the other hand, each person has a particular reaction to starving (or, in this case, getting mildly hungry). I could and still can go from breakfast to supper without any food (and without any major discomfort). In attention to the headaches I suggested the snacks, juices and energy drinks (healthy and easier to carry around than boiled eggs - on the other hand I don't really fancy boiled eggs).
posted by nkyad at 1:51 PM on January 11, 2006

I'd avoid energy bars and juice like the plague. Those things are full of sugar. They'll give you a short term boost and then you'll crash. To reiterate from above: fruits, nuts, granola, and lots and lots and lots of water. The trick is to eat a nice, big breakfast. Get some sausage, ham and bacon in there.

You could also just take your meals during class. There were some weeks when I took all three meals (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) during class. Some professors do find it disrespectful and disruptive but, hey, you gotta do what you gotta do.
posted by nixerman at 1:54 PM on January 11, 2006

Isn't this eating on the go thing why sandwiches were invented? I know that you are in class/working/driving rather than playing cards, but close enough.

Depending on the filling they can be safe without refrigeration, can be cut into convenient quarters for quick access, can be prepared the night before, and so on, to fit most requirements and dietary restrictions. There's an infinite variety of possible fillings and combinations thereof to add spice to life. Healthfulness runs the gamut from bologna on Wonder Bread to veggies on 19 grain sliced doorstop.
posted by Quinbus Flestrin at 2:24 PM on January 11, 2006

you should get a crock pot. fill it up with chicken, potatoes, vegetables, and yummy sauces the night before and flip the switch in the morning before you leave for school. then when you get home you'll have a hot and dee-licious meal waiting for you.

plus, it'll probably generate a few days' worth of food which you could pack into those little disposable ziploc boxes when you clean it up. then just grab one on the way out the door and eat it when you have a spare moment. (i find it hard to believe that you are really booked -solid- for 13 hours - if you look carefully you can probably find 15 minutes here or there to grab a bite).

also, try buying a sandwich or something between classes if there's one of those little coffee shops in a lobby or a sandwich cart or something. nothing wrong with taking it to class and eating during a lecture.

try to incorporate complex carbohydrates into your meals. especially whole grains and things like brown rice. they last a long time in your belly, provide lots of energy and will prevent the headaches.

also, fuck nkyad. don't let internet jerkoffs get you down.

it's unhealthy and kinda irresponsible to eat on the go and in the car etc, if you make it a lifestyle .. but if it's something you gotta do to make it through a short crunch time, then so be it. hustle and you'll make it!
posted by sergeant sandwich at 2:36 PM on January 11, 2006

You can also eat in class. If you can pack a lunch or pick something up at a cafeteria if you have a minute, eat it in class. It will make it a little harder to take notes if these are notes-intensive classes, but if all else fails, it's an option.

Don't eat in the car. Drive in the car.
posted by duck at 2:53 PM on January 11, 2006

Most profs will be fine with you eating in class, even something like a sandwich, especially if the class goes through a typical mealtime. And also -- although the body can survive with very little food, that plan wouldn't do much for your school and job performance, so definitely eat as much as you personally need to stay energized.
posted by dagnyscott at 3:31 PM on January 11, 2006

Oh, another suggestion: Larabar snack bars. They're pretty much just raw, unsweetened dried fruit, nuts, and spices -- very yummy, and won't give you quite the same sugar crash as other bars. My favorite flavor is cherry pie.
posted by scody at 3:43 PM on January 11, 2006

Boy, I can relate to this one. Full-time grad school and 30 hours a week at work. Good ideas here.

I would also suggest going to a health-food type store and checking out the bulk foods to make your own mixes. For example: dried apricots and pecans; wasabi peas, pepitas (baby pumpkin seeds) and soy nuts; craisins, dried bananas and almonds. If you mix nuts with fruit you will have a good combination of protein, carbs and healthy fats that will give you lasting energy. Put your mixes in ziploc bags, pop 'em in your backpack and forget about them until you need them.

Also, you could look for small packets of protein powder -- I like the soy ones -- that you can mix with a bottle of juice or milk.
posted by blogrrrl at 4:29 PM on January 11, 2006

I'd also recommend the eating during class thing. If you have a class where it is feasible (maybe not in Chem lab) and a decent prof, I would explain the situation to him in advance, that you would love to be able to bring a sandwich/wrap/fruit cup/bag o' veggies and eat it discreetly. Particularly at night classes, I saw this all the time.

Also, if it is at all convenient, stash snacks at the location you will frequent -- in a desk drawer at work, your backpack, your car -- so that you don't always have to think ahead for every little hunger pang.
posted by Rock Steady at 4:44 PM on January 11, 2006

Eat during class. People in my classes seem to do everything short of cook dinner during lectures, so you nibbling on the sandwich of your choice shouldn't be a big deal.
posted by Hildago at 5:23 PM on January 11, 2006

peanut butter sandwiches ... or meat, if you can find a fridge handy

way back, i used to freeze the sandwiches ... i'd take them out on my way to work and in 4 hours, they'd be thawed ... never got sick once ... (but mayo or miracle whip is forbidden for this)

i've brown bagged it all my life ... it's cheap and very quick
posted by pyramid termite at 9:11 PM on January 11, 2006

Unless you're in labs, I can't imagine a prof minding you eating a sandwich or whatever in class - I had semesters where I did that weekly because I'd schedule 5-6 hours of class with no break.

Also, I'm not sure what kind of job you have, but I'm sure they would let you take a minute to eat some kind of food (possibly at your desk?), even if it's grabbing a quick snack (like fruit).
posted by SoftRain at 11:02 PM on January 11, 2006

Lots of good advice here, but I felt I had to put in a word for the one and only - burrito. The origin of the burrito was so that migrant workers could eat on the run, easy, portable, nutritious and inexpensive to prepare. Make in the morning (any combination of beans, rice, cheese, salsa, veggies, meat, or my choice diced up veggie burgers) and wrap it up in aluminium foil or put it in a tupperware.

You can eat it in the car if needed, or in class etc with a fork. A good, hearty meal that is easy to make.
posted by krudiger at 10:29 AM on January 12, 2006

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