If you spend the majority of your waking hours at work, that may mean eating breakfast, lunch, and a couple of snacks there too. Keeping the right foods stashed in your desk or your locker can stop you from getting too hungry — and prevent those visits to the vending machine, coffee shop, and drive-thru — but just because these healthy options are a drawer away doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get up and stretch your legs every thirty minutes — or at least have a good stretch.
Here’s what to keep on hand:
A perfect snack is one that is delicious, filling, and nutritious, which describes nuts, well, in a nutshell. In moderation, a daily nut habit has been found to keep your heart healthy and may even reduce abdominal fat. Reach for the raw, unsalted variety for a filling boost of protein and fiber. For portion control, count out a proper serving (find out how many nuts that is here) rather than reaching into the bag every time you want more. And once you serve yourself, put the bag back away to avoid temptation. Eat them on their own, sprinkle them on salads, or stir a few into yogurt.
If you forgot your lunch, are having a busy day at work and don’t have time to go search for something to eat, pop open a can of tuna for a high-protein meal. To avoid added fat from oil, look for tuna canned in water with no salt. Don’t want to keep a can opener at your desk? Buy cans with pull tabs or single-serving packets that you can tear open and eat. (Just make sure to open it in the kitchen and drain the water off there. Your more olfactory sensitive office mates will thank you.) Enjoy with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar on whole grain crackers. (Make sure the ingredient list says 100% whole wheat or 100% whole grain flour. Tricky labels can say “whole wheat” on the front of the box, when they’re really made partially from refined flour.)
Jerky has gotten a gourmet makeover. Look for all-natural, nitrate-free versions. and it’s not hard to make your own. Just keep an eye on the sodium.
Whether you’re into chicken noodle, tomato, or lentil, an individual serving box or pull-tab can of soup makes a quick nutritious and calorie-conscious lunch when you need to eat something, stat! Dress it up with the condiments featured below, or pour on top of whole grain noodles or brown rice for a bigger meal. Again, opt for low-sodium versions and read the label to make sure your soup is made from all-natural ingredients.
Fruit is so good for you! It’s rich in vitamins, fiber, and tastes incredible. And, it’s a good snack to reach for when you want something sweet. Many fruits — including apples, oranges, plums, peaches — don’t require a fridge, so keep them on your desk to remind yourself to enjoy them each day.
For a hit of sweetness, fiber, and nutrients, reach for dried fruits without added sugar (consider dehydrating your own if you’re having trouble finding them), and keep your snack portion to about ¼ cup. Combine with nuts and coconut chips for a twist on trail mix, add to salads and oatmeal, or eat plain.
CONDIMENTS & EXTRAS
Red Wine vinegar
Vinegar is almost calorie-free and it’s a tasty way to add flavor. Keep a bottle at your desk to dress salads, drizzle on sandwiches in place of mayo, or add a touch of it to soup.
Whether you fancy whole grain, Dijon, yellow, or spicy, mustard can add a kick to any lunch and as long as you stay away from honey mustard, it’s pretty low in calories. Individual packets have a longer shelf-life. Otherwise, unrefrigerated, opened bottles will keep at peak freshness for about a month.
There’s a reason why everyone’s obsessed with sriracha. This hot chili sauce goes great on everything. Squeeze a few drops on a hardboiled egg, into soup or hummus, on chicken, or wake up a quinoa salad.
Low-sodium soy sauce packets
Soy sauce packets are automatically portion controlled which is great because this is one condiment that’s pretty high in salt already and when pouring from the bottle, it’s easy to pour too much and end up with salt super overload. Use it to season a brown rice and veggie bowl or as a dip for sliced veggie strips like peppers and carrots.
Nut or seed butter
A spoonful of nut butter can stop any snack attack in its tracks. Keep some on hand to spread on whole-grain crackers, add a dollop to oatmeal, or use as a dip for celery and carrots. Look for all-natural nut butters made from only nuts and little or no salt. Avoid brands that list sugar or hydrogenated oils in the ingredients.