When you’re on the job and hungry, no doubt you need something to get you through until quitting time. But often, your options for snacks at work are less than appealing, and worse, not healthy. A half-eaten candy bar from the depths of your desk drawer, the vending machine down the hall, sugary office party leftovers in the break room – do any of these hunger solutions sound familiar? The best plan when your stomach rumbles is to be prepared with an arsenal of nutritious, crave-worthy, and non-perishable snacks that you can easily tuck away in your desk drawer.
Eight Great Snacks for Work
Single-serving of unsalted almonds
Why it works at work: When your attention is trained on other things (like the job you have to do!) it’s all too easy to keep digging into an open box of snacks; individual portions make mindless work of stopping at one serving. Plus, if you select nuts, you’ll curb hunger quickly, since they are packed with satisfying protein.
Fat: 14 grams
Protein: 6 grams
Fruit cups or fresh fruit
Why it works at work: Fruit is an easy, natural way to satisfy a sweet tooth. But sometimes fresh fruit spoils, or may not be at the ready when you are, fruit cups are the perfect way to knock out a serving of produce, as well as your sweet tooth.
Calories: About 70 (depending on the fruit)
Fat: 0 grams
Fiber: About 1 gram
Packets of instant oatmeal (plain)
Why it works at work: Sure, instant oatmeal has more sodium than the regular oats you’d cook over the stove at home – but it’s much better than surrendering to a donut from the office lounge. Keeping this high-fiber choice on hand means you never have to face a full workload without the most important meal of the day.
Fat: 2 grams
Fiber: 3 grams
Why it works at work: Sometimes taking the time to drink a hot beverage can help you slow down long enough to realize you’re satisfied after a meal. And when you’re stressed, hot tea can keep you from eating to keep your calm. Keep a few tea bags in your desk drawer for a quick cup.
Healthy granola bars
(Such as Kashi TLC Chewy Granola Bars Honey Almond Flax)
Why it works at work: Granola bars make great quick bites, but many are full of sugar and fat. Choosing a bar that’s loaded with whole grains, and that is also low in fat and added sugar is essential. Plus, healthy bars can be a quick snack to tote in your bag if you’re off to a meeting.
Fat: 5 grams
Fiber: 4 grams
Protein: 7 grams
Dark Chocolate Squares
(Such as Hershey’s Extra Dark Chocolate Tasting Squares)
Why it works at work: Just about every office has a candy dish – and they’re often full of chocolate. If you see it every time you pass, it can be impossible to avoid a taste. But a taste every time you pass can add up to big calories in the long run. Instead, satisfy a chocolate craving by eating just one square of intense and satisfying dark chocolate.
Calories (per square): 45
Fat (per square): 3.5 grams
(Such as Healthy Choice Fresh Mixers Chicken Cacciatore)
Why it works at work: When you’re working on a deadline that requires you to skip lunch (or work through dinner), you’re more likely to overeat at your next opportunity. Buck the trend by keeping a shelf-stable meal ready in your drawer, like the ones from Healthy Choice. Unlike many shelf-stable meals (such as some canned pastas, soups, or instant noodles), this line of meals keeps sodium at a respectable level. All you need to do is to add water and microwave to have a fresh, healthy meal that can fuel you to finish.
Fat: 4 grams
Sodium: 600 milligrams
Fiber: 20 grams
Crystallized citrus power
(Such as True Lemon, True Lime, or True Orange)
Why it works at work: You know you need to drink water, but if you want more flavor, the office vending machine can’t provide many options that don’t also load you up with caffeine, sugar substitutes, or calories. Unlike the other usual suspects, True Lemon powder contains zero artificial sweeteners to keep it at zero calories. Keeping a handful of packets like these on hand makes it easy to bypass the sodas in favor of water with jazzy citrus flavor (and without the hassle of fresh-squeezed slices).
The Bottom Line
When you’re at work, keep your healthy intentions with these great choices for shelf-stable snacks. When you’re prepared to handle hunger, it’s more likely that you’ll keep a lid on the calories and fat. And when you’re energized with healthy foods, it’s easier to be productive at work!
Beth Sumrell Ehrensberger is a Registered Dietitian and holds a Master Degree in Public Health. An experienced nutrition counselor, writer and public speaker, Beth specializes in translating complex nutrition information into practical concepts. Beth was awarded a Nutrition Communications Fellowship to the National Cancer Institute, and has worked on the internationally recognized Nutrition Action Healthletter of the Center for Science in the Public Interest.