This week (as well as last week and several weeks before and the next few weeks too) is revision week in our house - revision for GCSE exams. There is a lot of studious activity; stress levels are high and WhatsApp messages received by me are things like, "Can you use ‘passive’ as a noun?" and "Please can you buy me a compass". The breakfast bar in the kitchen has transformed into this -
I've noticed that food becomes more important during these stressful weeks - for the energy it provides, for its calming effect, as a treat, as a break from boredom and as a stress reliever.
I can help with advice about using passive as a noun and I can go out and buy a compass but that's probably close to the limit of my study assistance - I can, however, make things a little lighter and easier by keeping everything ticking over in the kitchen.
Not everyone is going to have students studying at home right now, but we all have times when life is busy, busy, busy and we need our food to help us move in the right direction rather than drag us down. And this applies to looking after OURSELVES in busy times, just as much as caring for our nearest and dearest.
Here's how I think food can assist during revision (and other busy times)
- Make the most of the freezer - Freeze in flat packs which will defrost really quickly (especially when the need to eat is URGENT) or freeze things individually (Hella had a couple of cooked sausages from the freezer this morning - they were easily defrosted and very well received).
- Keep easy-to-eat things in the fridge - this may avoid a few of the meltdowns. You will know what works in your life. Here it's hard-boiled eggs and small bowls of something (anything) that can be eaten with no effort.
- And also, keep some cooked, plain pasta in the fridge - It's super-fast to add a bit of pesto or a jarred sauce to make a quick meal.
- Keep the pasta water - I'm a late adopter of this incredibly useful tip. The starchy water in which you have cooked the pasta, is perfect for loosening sauces or revitalising last night's pasta to create food in a hurry. Two things I've discovered - Italians will tell you to use LOADS of water to cook your pasta. I've found that the less water you use, the 'starchier' the pasta water is and the better it does its job. I save it and keep it in a jar to revitalise a dry pasta. Also, it's a real pain when you drain the cooked pasta in a colander and realise that you forgot to save some of the water. Put something (anything really - I use a ladle) in the colander as a prompt to remind you to rescue the water before it disappears down the sink.
- Snacks are everything - and keep them stocked up. The current favourites here are Tortilla Chips, Tim Tams, Strawberries and Ice Cream Sandwiches. And if next-level snacks are required, we can walk together to our neighbourhood shop and buy a Magnum (Double Chocolate) or a retro Cornetto. Please don't underestimate the power of a snack in times of stress.
- Comfort food is also everything - my go-to dinners in times like these are Pesto Pasta, Loaded Potato Skins and soup; all kinds of soup. I'm looking for food that brings a bit of joy in between Latin prose and simultaneous equations. Please don't underestimate the power of comfort food in times of stress.
- Make some treats to say, 'I'm looking out for you' - I don't think any of us enjoy feeling as though we're alone. I can't sit the exams for Hella (probably a good job) and I can't do the revision either, but I can keep some sweet treats to hand which is my way of saying, 'I'm with you.'
- Remember to eat - and remind your loved ones to eat. I am rubbish at both remembering and reminding. Note to self.
- Ask what they want to eat - I don't do this for 95% of the year (I'm not a short-order chef and you'll eat (and enjoy!) the gorgeousness that I create.) But on high days (Christmas and birthdays) and high-stress days (revision and exam days), I will ask. Pasta is the answer a lot of the time. I can do that.
How does food help the stress levels of revision in your house?