Make-Ahead Meals for Finals Week

It’s that time of the year again, where the dread of finals week has finally caught up to you. Your lack of time prevents you from making yourself a decent meal, so you resort to dining hall food or whatever snacks happen to be left in your dorm room. However, it is so important that you remember what your teachers and parents have always told you: eat well and get a good night sleep before any test. Therefore, I advise you to halt your current route.

One helpful hint I can give to you, is to plan your week out. You do not need to organize your week, detail for detail, but even the basics can give you helpful footing in knocking out hours of studying while getting the nutrition your body deserves. To give you a suggestion on where to start, see the recipe ideas below. These recipes are fitted to mason jars, as I have recently discovered their practicality. Not only are they rustic and chic, but they are easy and durable lunch boxes for meals you want to prep the night or a couple days before.

Breakfast: Mason Jar Parfait

What’s so great about this recipe is that it requires no cooking at all, and can be made in advance. There is truly no way to mess this up! So throw in yogurt, the fruit of your preference, granola or oats, and any other toppings you would like for the parfait (e.g. honey, peanut butter, nuts, cinnamon/brown sugar, chocolate chips, etc.). This sweet breakfast provides incredible nutrients in a delicious blend of sweet and savory; smooth and crunchy. With this breakfast, you’re sure to begin your day off to a happy start.

What You’ll Need:yogurt-parfait

  • Yogurt or Greek Yogurt
  • Granola
  • Fresh fruit
  • Toppings of your choice
  • Spoon
  • Mason jar


  1. Layer ingredients (yogurt first, then additional toppings)
  2. Refrigerate until use

*Helpful hint: Any dry ingredients put in a Ziplock bag and set aside next to the jar. This will avoid soggy ingredients if you are not planning on eating this tasty treat immediately.

Lunch: Salad in a Jar

Like the breakfast parfaits, the mason jar provides the perfect container for a build-your-own salad. This is entirely customizable to your food preferences. From a creamy caesar salad or a taco bowl, to a salad of your own invention this is the perfect lunch to power you through the rest of your day. Another bonus to this recipe is that you avoid any wilted, soggy lettuce leaves, and its is incredibly quick to make. Because the number of salads is endless, I will provide you with the basic construction of this yummy lunch with a link to other creative recipes.


  1. Pour in salad dressing
  2. Add any protein or chunky ingredients (such as vegetables)
  3. Add fixings (nuts, cheese, seeds, croutons–basically, anything you would want to maintain dry until feasting)
  4. Add lettuce, spinach, or leafy greens
  5. Refrigerate until use.
  6. When using: empty jar onto a plate, mix, and enjoy!

*Some Ideas: Salad Jars

Dinner: Lasagna

Sometimes, you need a little bit of comfort to keep you grounded during your studies. Lasagna, while delicious, is time consuming, tedious, and (if you’re cooking for one) will leave you with two weeks worth of leftovers. That’s where mason jars come to rescue.

What You’ll Need:jarsagna08

  • About ½ cup cooked noodles
  • Tomato sauce
  • Cream sauce
  • Cheese (e.g. mozzarella)
  • Mason jar


  1. Spread a thin sheet of sauce on the bottom of the jar to avoid sticking.
  2. Layer noodles
  3. Add small amount of cream sauce
  4. Layer with noodles
  5. Add small amount of tomato sauce and cheese
  6. Repeat until jar is full.
  7. Refrigerate until use. When heating, cook in microwave for about 2 minutes (or until warm), or bake in oven on 325 degrees until warm.
  8. Enjoy

Dessert: Dirt Cake

I think dessert is one of the most important meals of the day. However, it can be almost an impossibility during finals week. Yet, there are simple recipes that exist in the world, and that can be made ahead of time, or in no time at all. The inner child in you should be happy with this one: Pudding-Cups2-jpg

What You’ll Need:

  • 3 Chocolate pudding cups
  • Pre-made whipped cream (approximately one pudding cup full)
  • 6 Oreos
  • Gummy worms
  • Mason Jar


  1. Crush Oreos in a Ziplock bag
  2. With a spoon, mix pudding packages and whip cream in a mason jar.
  3. Mix in about half of the cookie crumbs.
  4. Top the rest of the cup with the remaining cookie crumbs (do not mix in) and a few gummy worms.
  5. Enjoy!

*Another suggestion: see my Single Serving Sweets post for quick, easy dessert recipes for one.


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