Food Ideas for Your Commute Home

Written By: Sofia Layarda, MPH

Title: Master of Public Health

Alumni: University of California, Berkeley

Last Updated on:

In an ideal world, you’d get out from the office after a long day, walk a few blocks down the street and get in the door just in time for dinner. However, in reality, many of us face a lengthy commute home from work or school. Let’s say you typically eat lunch around 12:30 and don’t sit down to dinner until 6:30; that leaves your body with a six-hour window between “refuels” – too long to run on empty. While we can’t cut down your travel time, here are some snack ideas to tie you over on your way home without destroying your appetite or calorie allowance for dinner.

Top 5 Food Ideas for Your Commute Home

For a snack to be meaningful, it should have carbs (as the “fuel” component), protein (the “tie-you-over” factor) and a touch of the right kind of fat. If you’re a numbers person, try to keep the snack to 200 calories or less. After all, your “full” dinner awaits at home!

If your office provides a fridge to store foods, take advantage of this. Alternatively, there are many thermal lunchboxes that can keep food cold and safe for hours with ice packs.

Salty and Sweet

Here are some quick ideas for those who like a bit of both salty and sweet flavors in a snack:

  • Cheese string and a small banana
  • A 100-calorie pack of plain almonds or walnuts with a homemade smoothie (blend together Greek yogurt, 1/4 cup berries, and 1 tablespoon of honey)
  • A handful of dried fruit (dates, raisin, apricots) with a handful of pistachios
  • Melba toast with nut butter and dried apple chips
  • Honey-nut oat cereal

Make it Zingy

Those who have a sweet tooth often fall victim to candy bars and sodas. Skip these nutritionally empty choices – sometimes all you need is something to perk up your taste buds. Try these choices instead:

  • Low-fat chocolate milk and pretzels
  • Pickled olives with baked pita chips
  • Frozen grapes
  • Frozen yogurt popsicle


Since you’re heading home to dinner, you could consider the snack the “‘prelude” to your meal:

  • Edamame (young green soybeans in pods)
  • A whole wheat mini bagel topped with a sprinkle of cheese and tomato sauce
  • One slice of toast with one sardine (canned in tomato sauce)

The Vending Machine Sleuth

Buying food from a vending machine? If you look closely and carefully you may be able to pick out some nutritionally reasonable choices, such as snack bars or fresh fruit.

Heat-Me-Up Soup

This one is not intended to be consumed while you’re driving! But for those who like a warm pre-dinner snack, soup could be the little pick-me-up you need before embarking on the commute home. The fluid helps fill you up without too much caloric load, and it’s a great opportunity to sneak in a few more veggies. Make big batches of your favorites, and freeze them in 8-oz containers. If you’re opting for dried soup mixes, look closely at the ingredient list and weed out any high-salt choices.

The Bottom Line

Say goodbye to the thunderous rumbling in your stomach! With a little bit of planning, you can have a tasty and nutritious snack before heading home and avoid drive-through desperation. Get inspired by our food ideas, and prep yourself a tasty snack to stave off hunger until dinnertime.


commuting, healthy snacks, snacks


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