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Taking the bar exam...what to eat?

So I'm taking the bar this week, and staying at a hotel for the test (3 days). I want to bring some food along with me for breakfast and lunch. I'll have a small soft-sided cooler with me, which I plan to refill with ice daily. Quick, filling, non-perishable items that can be made in a hotel room are what I'm looking for.

I'll have the regular camping staples:
Cliff bars,
Trail mix,
Dried Fruit.

I'm probably going to bring some instant oatmeal to cook in the room's coffee pot.

I'm doubtful of anything mayo-based, which nixes a lot of sandwiches, but the concept of sandwiches isn't completely off the table.

What would you bring for a 3-day, stressed-out adventure in mental endurance?

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  1. I took it last year and maybe I am just overly paranoid, but I just stuck with foods that I typically ate both during the day and for dinner and just tried not to vary my routine or even get close to anything that could get me sick. Granola bars were good for before the exam, a nice innocent sandwich at lunch, and pasta for dinner...Good Luck.

    1. I would eat more than protein bars, I would eat healthy and make sure not to over eat. One of my favorite things to eat is brown rice, saute veggies (cubed sweet potato, onion, carrots, cabbage,) with beans (kidney beans are really good in this mixture). It is delicious room temperature also. You could preportion it in ziploc plastic bowls.
      Oatmeal in the morning is good, it will keep you full, have some nuts and golden raisins mixed in.
      A sandwich is fine even with mayo in a cooler, Or you could get some mayo packets and add it before you eat. Have a lot of food, one less thing to worry about. Break a leg.

      1. Good canned tuna packed in olive oil on tasty crackers. Squeeze on some fresh lemon if you thin you can deal with a lemon a day, or if you can find a product called True Lemon (dehydrated lemon juice) it works well in a pinch.....

        Laughing Cow cheese is actually shelf stable unless you open up an individual wedge. Good with fruit or aforementioned "tasty crackers". If you have a microwave, you can "bake" a potato and top with Laughing Cow as well.

        Simple as it sounds, peanut butter sandwiches with a single-serving carton of shelf-stable UHT milk or soymilk (chilled well against the ice pack) can be quick and satisfying. If you have the energy, slice in a banana or some apple. Or skip the bread and just have peanut butter with fruit or crackers.

        Shelf-stable milk/soymilk can also be used on your oatmeal or for dry cereal. Sprinkle on your dried fruit or some nuts to keep things interesting.

        Have not tried many personally, but I believe there are some interesting noodle bowls on the market now that aren't deep-fried. Just add hot water....maybe other have recommendations of good ones.

        Good luck on the adventure!

        1. If you don't want to eat out, suck it up and order room service (that's what I did when I took the Bar).

          Personally, I don't think I could function well only protein/energy bars.

          Only thing I would bring (and not buy at the hotel or a restaurant) is fresh fruit.

          1. As bad as dining room/room service food usually is in mid-level hotels, I'd have to agree with that. It's an expense, but retaking the exam in February is a bigger one.

            One thing that hasn't been said is that -- unless you're normally asocial, you'd be much better off IMO hanging out with other people as much as possible and eating with them is a good way to do that in these circs - going from 8 hours of test back to the solitude of a hotel room --> really not a good idea unless you're bringing non-test-taking company yourself. Even if you don't have friends/classmates taking the same exam, you're likely to find willing dining companions. They may be people you wouldn't normally socialize with, but they'll be feeling the same way so that should work out fine. On the other hand, if you will be there with friends, eating better-tasting food in your rooms or a common area wouldn't be so bad either and could be something to take your mind off the urge to mindlessly, and pointlessly by that point, review notes during every waking moment your attention isn't otherwise occupied. :)

            Oh, and unless you normally eat a lot of extra-dry foods like those you've listed, beware unexpected, unpleasant GI results. If you want a quick, easy source of protein, I think protein powder to mix with water or milk or canned liquid supplements are a safer bet. (If you bring protein powder, bring a tightly sealable container to shake it up in!) Canned fruit juices are something I don't think anyone else has mentioned.

            3 Replies
            1. re: MikeG

              Hotels often have little fridges that you can request to have in the room. We've gotten them over the years for baby food or medicine. Or good leftovers. Or beer. Best to call in advance. I wish you well with the exam!

              1. re: MikeG

                Honestly, I would say the exact opposite -- I'm normally a very social person, but during the bar, I was in my own little cocoon. I took it in the city where I live, so I wasn't staying in a hotel, but at lunch I walked a few blocks away and sat on a stoop to eat, and I ate dinner at home, far away from other test takers. I found that any interaction with other people taking the bar was too much, because they will invariably want to talk about the exam, and that is the last thing that I wanted to talk about, because it would have just made me more anxious (reviewing questions already answered is never a good idea!). Back to the topic, I would definitely agree with ordering room service, at least once or twice -- I find room service to be a treat, and you definitely need to treat yourself a bit while studying for the bar. Get the simplest thing, and nothing too heavy, but even a basket of pastries with coffee and orange juice in the morning starts the morning off right.

                Definitely have some fruit, dried or fresh, easy sources of protein (turkey sandwiches, peanut butter/jelly sandwiches, canned tuna, string cheese, etc.). Also, I took the advice of someone else, and kept a little baggie of M&Ms in my pocket during the exam -- they're great to have when you need a little pick me up, just go to the bathroom, give yourself a 30 second break, and pop a few little candies, and they'll give you an energy boost to get through that session. Good luck!

                1. re: JasmineG

                  Do I know you? I did the exact same thing with the M&Ms almost 15 years ago! I was worried about going through withdrawal because I ate a lb of M&Ms every day and a half. So, I snuck a baggie into the bar and would pop them into my mouth as I went towards the bathroom. I've told countless people of my "addiction" over the years.

                  To the OP, for lunch, I had a cold grilled chicken breast sandwich, banana and ice tea for the caffeine. I also sat away from people at lunch and just read a fun book or magazine to clear my head.

                  Also, if you can, get a massage during the nights between the bar. It will help you relax and sleep.