For those who have no time to prepare meals during the work day, yet want to eat nutritiously, one solution is to plan ahead and prepare mini meals and snacks that can be eaten at any time. Not only will this save money, it will help guard against that temptation of vending machines or fast food. Several snacks spaced throughout the day can take the place of several meals. Snacks also help curb between-meal hunger. Snacking is a great solution as long as you don’t forget to make healthy choices.
Here are some tips for preparing nutritious on-the-go meals and snacks:
- Your food choices will depend partly on the facilities available where you work. If there is a refrigerator, food selection can be more varied and a microwave is a plus.
- Plan a week’s worth of snacks. Add these food items to your weekly shopping list.
- Invent ways to use leftovers in snacks. Be creative!
- Prepare and pack the food the night before if your mornings are hectic.
- Create a mess kit to keep at your desk. Include a can opener, mug, plate, utensils, and napkins. Paper plates and plastic utensils make clean-up easy.
Pack It Up at Home
- Invest in a selection of small plastic containers that can be easily packed into an insulated lunch bag. These are usually inexpensive.
- Use insulated containers to keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold.
- Purchase a selection of plastic bags with a variety of seals. Also, have aluminum foil and plastic wrap available.
Snacking by Food Group
- Meat, Poultry, Fish and Alternatives – Try individual-sized cans of fish and chicken; hard cooked eggs; peanut butter; unsalted nuts; cooked, dried peas and beans in salads; and leftover cooked meats and poultry in sandwiches and salads.
- Dairy – Include low fat-yogurt and yogurt drinks in convenient serving size containers, low-fat cottage cheese, skim milk, low- fat milk, and individually wrapped cheeses. You can satisfy a sweet craving with individual servings of ready-made pudding or a flavored cheese.
- Grains – For convenience, include individual serving size boxes of cereal. Choose cereals low in sugar. Select enriched whole grain breads, rolls, crackers, and pita bread. Whole grain or enriched cookies or muffins are a nutritious choice for something sweet.
- Fruits/Vegetables – Fruits are a natural to pack since many come in their own package – for instance, bananas, grapes, oranges, apples and pears. Dried fruits now are available in serving size packets. You also can buy them in bulk and make your own packets.
- Vegetables – Fresh vegetables make great crunchy snacks. Serve with a yogurt- or cottage cheese-based dip, or tossed with a vinaigrette as a vegetable salad.
- Munchies/Combos – Mix plain yogurt with fresh fruits or dry whole grain cereal.
- Trail mix in individual serving size packets travels well. Make your own with dried fruits, unsalted nuts, seeds, and cereals.
- Stuff celery with peanut butter or farmer cheese mixed with raisins.
- Mix salads with cottage cheese and chopped fresh fruits or vegetables.
- Try individual serving size packets of whole grain chips, potato chips, and pretzels.
- Snacks You Can Keep in Your Desk Drawer – Keep a supply of emergency rations such as peanut butter, whole grain crackers, nuts, dark chocolate, and raisins available for days when you forget lunch and just cannot get out.
Munching on this combination during the day may help you resist turning in at the first fast food place you pass on the way home!