Exam time foods

Every place we live has their own versions of foods that they give their children while preparing for exams. Sharing some interesting observations across cultures!

Local schools in us (Boston area)

Schools and PTO groups usually send out flyers and brochures explaining what foods to collect as a community and used to take up the effort to distribute it to all the children at school. I have not seen this practice implemented anywhere else! Good practice – that can be emulated in small pockets across schools!

PTO does a fundraiser and fruit collection and asks parents to bring in Oranges. Juicy oranges are sliced and distributed to children during their exams. All elementary to middle schools implement this practice and PTO supports them. When I was new, I wanted to understand why do they do it and was told thus

Children feel hungry and thirsty during long exams. Oranges are not only good for health, no allergy issues and helps boost immunity. Slicing them and distributing makes it tastier for kids to quickly eat and get back to work!

Loved the practice and continue the same!

South India

Steamed food is preferred on the day of the exam. Light and fluffy steamed rice cakes (Idli) with sambar (gravy made with lentils – filled with protein) is typically shared on exam days. If the exams continue for a week, this would be the typical meal every morning on the day of exams.

When I asked the rationale for the same – Idlis are light and 3-4 with gravy in the morning is perfect for breakfast and not too full so that the kid would sleep off during the exams. Overfeeding gets them to sleep during exams, so a light meal is good. Rice based varieties without a lot of oil and grease, continues to increase their pitta (helpful for sustained drive).

Picture of mini-idlis in sambar

North and east india

On exam days, the one thing that helps is to keep our minds alert is protein, and for that one needs to eat eggs 🙂 Boiled eggs (or any non-greasy egg preparation), egg on toast, egg omelette with tomatoes, onions and coriander leaves would be the best and most often breakfast during these days.

Rationale – High protein helps keep mind alert! Rice and fish / meat dishes can be eaten for lunch / dinner. Breakfast has to be full of protein.

Morning Breakfast Prepare within 3 minutes | Egg Toast Recipe| Bengali Dim  Toast Recipe| Easy Recipe - YouTube

South Asian food

Interestingly, porridge seems to be one of the most preferred foods during exam days, and also when children are recovering from a cold/flu. Rice porridge is the most common of them, with variations of adding chicken or shrimp or vegetables, or sometimes even sweet porridge with berries! Exam time is the simple rice porridge.

Rationale – Easy to eat and digest and light food helps during exams. Children remain healthy and do not end up overeating and sleeping during exams.

Chinese Chicken and Rice Porridge (Congee) recipe | Epicurious.com

other Most preferred other breakfast items during exams across the world

1. Egg, Toast and Orange juice

Plain toast with a dollop of butter on the side, egg (boiled / variation) and a glass of orange juice

2. Milk and cereal

Simple bowl of milk and cereal (kids favorite) ensures they finish it before getting to school. Do not make it a very sugary dish, to help avoid a sugar rush!

3. cereal bars

Variety of cereal bars are available. Ensure the child eats one at least on the way to school, if not at home to ensure child does not reach school on an empty stomach.

4. Fruits and Yoghurt

Some families prefer to have their children eat sweetened yoghurt before the child leaves for their exams to ensure success in their ventures. Fruits (berries, melons) and yoghurt is most common.

5. Mixed nuts

While some parents share a trail mix of cashews, almonds, walnuts, dried cranberries and raisins, it helps as a snack during the exams as well.

While everyone and their families seem to have their preferred foods, local weather and cultures seem to influence the choices as well!

On an exam day, a bottle of water is the most common item across cultures and locations.

Ensuring children are well hydrated and well rested before any exam definitely helps!

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