That snack drawer in your desk is pretty much the office MVP. The beauty of desk-ready snacks is that they can stay safely tucked away and will last for weeks, as compared to that ripe banana you forgot about over the long weekend or the yogurt you neglected to stash in the fridge. Yeah, ew. Luckily, there are plenty of healthy midday munchies that’ll keep you just as satisfied, no refrigeration required.
Keeping healthy snacks within arm’s reach can keep your energy up and your blood sugar stable during an afternoon slump, says Brittany Kohn M.S., R.D. Plus, “If you’re prepared with your own healthy snacks you won’t be tempted by any unhealthy choices available at the office,” she says. Game, set, match, stale donuts and birthday cake in the break room. A solid snack should be less than 200 calories, she adds, and make sure you’re getting plenty of protein and fiber to keep you fueled until your next meal.
Here are 14 healthy options you can enjoy at your desk.
1. Superfood Seeds
via Veganbaking.net / flickr.com
“Seeds are a great source of protein, and [they’re] easy to store, quiet, [and] not messy,” says Kohn. Her faves are pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds.
2. Dried Fruit
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This sweet treat is full of fiber. Just be sure to nosh in moderation and avoid options with added sugars. According to The Kitchn, a serving size is about half of what it would be for the whole fruit in its natural state.
3. Nut Butter
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Whether you spread it on crackers, a piece of fruit, or just a spoon (hey, no complaints here), nut butters are tasty, versatile desk snacks. You can always opt for individual servings, like almond butter packets, too. Keep in mind the typical two tablespoon serving if you’re just diving in with a spoon.
4. Low-Sodium Jerky
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Gone are the days when jerky was reserved for camping. This uber-portable snack is earning serious cred for its major protein boost (just make sure you pick one that’s not loaded with sodium).
5. Air-Popped Popcorn
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Make easy air popped popcorn at home by adding 1/4 cup of popcorn kernels to a microwave safe bowl, then covering with a microwave-safe plate and popping it in for two minutes and 45 seconds. According to LifeHacker, this results in way fewer unpopped kernels—plus, you can season with savory or sweet spices to bring to work when it’s done. Try cinnamon, red pepper flakes, cumin, turmeric, dried rosemary…the flavor options are endless so you’ll never get bored. The only thing missing is the movie.
6. Plain Oatmeal Packets
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Oatmeal isn’t just for breakfast—stash it in your drawer for a hearty snack, too. “Packets of instant, plain oatmeal microwaved with water in a mug and sprinkled with cinnamon is a great cold-weather snack when you want something warm and filling,” says Katherine Younger, R.D. Careful, though—those flavored packages are often loaded with extra sugars.
7. Roasted Seaweed
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This savory and crunchy snack is a great alternative to go-to chips or crackers. Find them at a health store, or get gourmet and make them at home with this easy recipe from The New York Times.
8. Raw Nuts
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“I love raw nuts like almonds or cashews. They deliver a great protein and fat combo,” says Younger. A standard portion is about one ounce, or 1/8 of a cup.
via Stacy Spensley /flickr.com
A low-sugar granola or cereal is a great dry snack. Or snag some communal milk from the office fridge and pour over your bowl for a satisfying (and chilled) treat. This recipe for a fruit and spice granola is perfect for either.
10. Tuna Pouches
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If you’re chained to your desk for lunch, personal sized tuna packets and cans are a great stand-in snack to help hold you over. They’re filled with protein and healthy omega 3s, says Kohn. She recommends sticking to 150 calories and 300mg of sodium or less, and opt for water-packed tuna (or one that doesn’t need draining at all).
11. Dark Chocolate
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Hey, nothing wrong with treating yourself at snack time with high-quality squares of dark chocolate. “Cacao is great source of magnesium, which is a natural stress-reliever,” says Kohn. “Pair with peanut butter, nuts, or Greek yogurt for a protein-filled, satisfying snack.” She also suggests eat chocolate with 70 percent cacao or higher.
12. Roasted Chickpeas
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You can DIY these crunchy snacks or buy ‘em pre-made, but either way, they’re a great room temp stand-in for your beloved hummus.
13. Real Food Energy Bars
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Nothing wrong with a good old granola bar at snack time—just remember that they’re not all created equal. Tip: Go for bars with ingredients you can see and pronounce. Kohn favors Kind bars and Rx bars, and Younger opts for Larabars.
14. DIY Trail Mix
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Still can’t decide? A personalized trail mix might be the way to go. Throw in dried fruits, seeds, nuts, coconut flakes, and even dark chocolate chips and portion it out into individual serving sizes. One of these 10 trail mix recipes should do the trick.
—By Alexa Tucker