How to survive grad school: Part 2


What it is
Food that's not technically a meal, but let's be honest, it usually replaces a meal.

How it will help you survive grad school
The thing about terrible things is that they're often improved by food. I've found that snacking is both a way to procrastinate homework and a way to get through it. Need a break? Walk out to the kitchen and grab something to eat. Even just opening random cabinets and the fridge helps delay work on an assignment. Need to motivate yourself? Small, bite-sized snacks can provide enough incentive to get through that next paragraph where you are required to overly explain your reasoning. Plus, snacking is a great way to stay awake when you don't want to down an energy drink, even when you're bored to tears.

These are tried and true snacking favorites.

1. Popcorn
Anyone who has been my roommate since 2007 knows my deep love of popcorn. I loved using a roommate's air popper so much, she bought me one when I was moving out. This was one of the best presents I have ever been given.

If preparing popcorn with an air popper, you can either melt down butter (WARNING: using margarine or other fake butters end up weird with layers of oil when melted) or use I Can't Believe It's Not Butter spray. Melted butter is obviously the more delicious choice, but the I Can't Believe...spray is good when you're lazy or pretending to be healthy. I've found half a scoop full of kernels is a good snack portion and a full scoop is good for a meal. Basically, pour/spray on the butter while shaking a bowl or paper bag of popped popcorn. Then sprinkle in salt while still shaking. With practice, you can get the ratio right for your tastes.

If you're even lazier, you can just do microwave popcorn. My favorite? Pop Secret Homestyle. It doesn't have that weird 94% fat free taste or make you feel greasy. If you're trying not to eat popcorn for dinner, Orville Redenbacher's minibags are a pretty good portion.

2. Dried fruit
Also known as nature's crack, dried fruit is just as delicious as real fruit, but often sugarier and less juicy (leading to less mess). Trader Joe's is a great place to get everything from craisins to dried mango for pretty cheap. This is another way to pretend you're healthy while eating an entire bag of bite-sized deliciousness that's probably rotting your teeth anyway.

3. Gum
Yeah, I know it's not a snack, but sometimes you've got to stop snacking, and you need to distract your mouth from the fact that you're not shoving food in your face anymore. My personal favorite is Orbit peppermint flavor. It keeps its flavor for about 45 minutes and never gets hard, even when you've been chewing it for over an hour.

4. Trail Mix
Yet another way to pretend you're healthy. Even the kinds with dried fruit in them also come chocolate chips, white chocolate chips, or butterscotch chips. But what can I say, it hits the sweet and savory spot. WARNING: probably contains delicious, delicious peanuts.

5. Tortilla Chips and Salsa
I've talk about this before (in fact, I've talked about snacking before), this is how important tortilla chips are to me. Long story short, Santita's are cheap ($2!) and delicious, but I'm willing to branch out if another chip is on sale. And I usually play salsa by ear, although Tostito's salsa is a pretty solid choice.

6. Other crackers/chips
Crackers are a way to pretend you're not eating chips, but really, you're just eating less greasy chips. Personal favorites include Goldfish, Wheat Thins, Ritz, and pretzels. Say you still want crazy chip flavors but don't want to stoop to Flamin' Hot Cheetos, then go with SunChips. That way you can both think you're healthy and that you're saving the environment by buying one of those recyclable bags (which, BTW, are effectively loud if you need to startle yourself awake). Might I recommend Garden Salsa?

7. Candy
Sometimes you just need to get through finals. Sometimes a bag of chocolate chips or a package of Starbursts are a way to do it. No need to apologize.

What are your favorite snacks? Did I leave any classics out?

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