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making office snacks

For diet and money reasons I've been taking my lunch to work. But for time reasons the only lunch i can seem to manage is soup, because i can make it over the weekend. I can't even manage a sandwich in the morning--i intend to and after many intentions i've learned it just doesn't happen. Often the soups are just shy of making me full. even the hearty ones--there's only so much of it you can eat in one go. I then always have a piece of whole fruit.

Problem comes around 3-4 when I am STARVING. which leads to raiding the free chocolate bowl which still doesn't do the trick because I'm actually hungry. More fruit doesn't cut it. I need something cliff-bar like, something with substance and a bit of protien. I've seen posts refering to hummus and peanut butter--there's some possibilities in there but i also like the idea of making something over the weekend for this purpose. something easily self-contained. I don't trust myself with an open peanut butter jar in the drawer.

the only AM effort involved has to be remembering to put it in the bag, though i will happily do something that's lots of effort on the weekends, perhaps even weeknights if its good. It has to be reasonably healthy.

Thanks for any ideas!!

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  1. Prep is everything when you want to take healthy and substantial food to work. Take advantage of the weekend and spend a couple of hours making sure you have easy to grag food for the rest of the week.

    I, too, love soups. I'll make a pot of lentil or chicken soup and bring a container to work. But, like you said, sometimes, it's just not enough. If you have access to a refrigerator, you're lucky because you can readily have stuff on hand. If not, but a good, insulated lunch sack and some blue ice and keep your food supply readily at your workstation.

    Burritos are good for breakfast, lunch or an afternoon snack. I make breakfast burritos with eggs, potatoes, sausage and cheese. I use the "soft taco" size so they are a reasonable portion (six scrambled eggs will make eight burritos), use whole wheat tortillas, wrap them in foil and pop them in the freezer. As I'm running out the door, I can grab one, throw it in my bag and when I get to work 1-2 mins in the microwave and I have a hot and satisfying breakfast that holds me until lunch.

    You can vary the fillings to make them a satisfying lunch, or a light snack for that 3:00 need. Use chicken, rice, refried beans, cheese, tomatoes, vegetables or any combination. Takes about an hour on a Sunday, lable them and toss them in the freezer and your ready to go for the week.

    Don't discount peanut butter because you don't want the jar in your drawer. Keep the jar at home and portion out daily rations into small containers. Peanut butter with crackers, celery or carrots will give you a dose of protein, help you with the hunger pangs and still keep you on a heathly eating regime.

    Same with hummus. Portion it out at home and have it handy in the refridgerator. Put pita chips or vegetables in zip locks so you can grab and go. Same with cheese... slice and prepackage for the week ahead.

    I also like to have mixed nuts, whole grain crackers, dried fruits, petzels, rice cakes, etc. I keep them in my overhead in my cube, but if you think that's too tempting, keep the "source" at home and just take your daily portions.

    It does take a little bit of planning on the weekends, but you can prepare yourself so you are armed with healthy, high protein, hunger fighting snacks that will get you through the week.

    good luck!

    2 Replies
    1. re: janetms383

      Thought of a couple more....
      I like to make meat & cheese roll-ups. I'll take a slice of swiss and a slice of ham, or a slice of provolone and a slice of genoa salami, or a slice of cheddar and a slice of smoked turkey..... roll them up, 2 to a snack sized zip lock and they are ready to grab and go.

      Also, tuna or chicken salad. Prepare and put in small containers. Have some lettuce leaves cleaned, wrapped in a damp paper towel and packaged in a sandwich sized zip lock. Then you have a quick lettuce wrap to go!

      1. re: janetms383

        running with janet's suggestion for breakfast burritos, you can also whip up a batch of your favorite omelet or egg scramble (using eggs or liquid egg substitute and your favorite veggies/filling), pour into muffin tins, bake, cool, wrap individually, and refrigerate or freeze. a quick zap in the microwave gets you a filling, nutritious snack.

        i know others have already suggested oatmeal, but it bears repeating. you can also stir in a little protein powder (after heating) or nut butter for more balanced nutrition.

        i'm also a fan of string cheese with a piece of fruit.

        if you like cottage cheese, you can keep some in the office fridge (either a larger container or the single-serve containers). top it with a handful of cereal, granola, dried fruit or nuts, and you're set.

        oh, and jerky, though high in sodium, is a convenient & shelf-stable protein source.

      2. Here's a link to a current discussion on granola. Some of the recipes have wheat germ for extra protein and there's at least one with peanut butter.


        1. I keep a box of oatmeal in my drawer at work (and a deep bowl) - mix with milk from the vending machine and a banana, and it does the trick. Sometimes, I pack cereal, fruit, and yogurt (separately). On the savory side, in addition to hummus, cheese, nuts, crudites, I like hard-boiled eggs, and any leftovers in smaller portions.

          1 Reply
          1. re: jeni1002

            I have a stash of oatmeal, too, and I recently added those single-serving packs of All-Bran. Mixed with yogurt and fruit (kept in the office fridge), it makes a healthy, tasty and quick parfait.

          2. A co-worker and I love to buy Walgreen's lightly salted almonds when they are on sale for $2.50 per can...if you love almonds, you might keep some in your drawer; they last a pretty long time! I've tried keeping plain almonds--and realize I just hate them totally unsalted, so the lightly salted ones are for me! They make a very good snack at 4 p.m. BUT you have to keep your portion to snack size, that being 20 almonds (supposedly) I personally can't eat that many--6 to 10 does it for me! The possible down side to the granola bars is sugar...they all have either sugar or honey and therein lie the calories.

            1. When I was doing the South Beach Diet, I had to bring snacks, and the diet encourages snacks.
              A bag of peanuts in the shell is good.
              Cut up celery and carrots and put them in a bag in the refrigerator the night before. Take a container of hummus with you.
              For another snack, the packaged mozzarella logs ("string cheese") are good -- I like Organic Valley. Protein will keep you full without the sugar highs and lows that make one head for the bowl of chocolate, which only leaves you hungry.

              1 Reply
              1. re: NYchowcook

                Another thing I do with carrots and celery is make them into bite sized pieces (I actually buy the peeled baby carrots at the store because I'm lazy sometimes), and put them in a jar, dump dressing over the top (no reason you can't use a non fat dressing). Keep that in the fridge. The veggies keep for weeks in the dressing and get marinated. I spoon them out in the afternoon for a nice light snack.

              2. I'm big on those little tupperware containers for peanut butter or hummus. I also buy those 100 calorie bags of almonds from BJs Wholesale. We also love those mini babybel cheese wheels (lite). Or the laughing cow wedge. Love the Fiber One bars too. We are buying this new peanut butter that is dehydrated peanuts (so no oil) - just add water. It's much lower in fat (see link). I'll take one half of those Arnolds Sandwich Thins with tablspoon of PB2 (that peanut butter) and sliced banana - very fulling but low low low. I make my own pita chips and then divy up in small snack bags - made from whole wheat ww pita pockets or those Joseph's Low cal lavish bread or thick ones using Arnold's Sandwich Thins.. We are on weight watchers and all these snacks are either 1 or 2 points.

                For lunch, I make too much dinner and enjoy leftovers for lunch - no prepping, it was part of my clean up the night before to just throw in a container. I always make way too much of the vegies.

                Good luck!!

                1. I eat soup for lunch almost every day. It can get boring, and I agree, it's not quite filling on its own. I'll often have a pita with hummous (buy a bag of pitas, put them in the fridge freezer at work. Take one out and toast for lunch while soup is heating up). I'll also have melba toast whole grain crackers - good too because, although not environmentally friendly they come in individually wrapped packages - which limits me from gorging on the whole box. Sometimes I splurge on some low fat goats cheese with the crackers.
                  I'll also bring an entire container of cottage cheese to work for a little filler with the soup - eat some of it each day throughout the week.
                  When I'm making soup on the weekend, I'll also cut up a lot of carrots and put them in a big container in the fridge to help get through the week.

                  1. At my old job, trail mix used to be my saving grace from the afternoon slump. We had little bags filled with mixed nuts, raisins, m&m's etc. It did the trick. We also had those 100% fruit juice popsicles (I forget the name offhand), they were wonderful. I'm not sure if you have a freezer available though.

                    1. Something I send on DDs lunches is plain yogurt topped with frozen fruit. The fruit acts as the "freezer pack" to help keep the yogurt cold, and by mid-morning(kept out of the fridge) it's thawed and ready to eat. Blueberry is a fave combo but I think anything cut small enough would work. If it were kept in the fridge it'd be a good option for an afternoon snack too I think.

                      1. Speaking of Power Bars, there was a Good Eats episode a few years ago where Alton Brown made granola bars, rice bars, and protein bars.

                        The episode is available in two parts on YouTube:

                        And the recipes are available on the Food network site

                        1. A handful of nuts - about an ounce - quiets hunger pangs quickly and for several hours. It's easy enough to prepare a week's worth of snack baggies and keep them in your desk. Or, if you are near a Trader Joe's and don't mind paying a little more for the convenience, in addition to their very reasonably-priced pound bags of nuts they have bags of little cellophane snack-size bags. Definitely in raw almond (raw has more of the healthy cholesterol-lowering stuff than roasted nuts) and I think maybe roasted, and/or walnuts. I eat 8 raw almonds daily but since I find raw bland, I also buy TJ's tamari-roasted almonds and eat 4 of them along with the raw.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: greygarious

                            You shouldn't be starving by 3-4pm. The diet plan I follow allows a mid-morning and mid-afternoon snack. My favorite morning snack is an apple and a piece of stick cheese. Afternoon snack is 3 crackers spread with hummus and about 12 grapes. I find fruit filling now where before, fruit just seemed to make me hungrier. I also like a clementine and banana for dessert after lunch. I get a frozen fruit blend from Schwan's that is mostly peaches, mango and pineapple plus some strawberries. I take a handful of frozen fruit out of the bag and put on top of a serving of cottage cheese. I don't refrigerate because it takes all morning for the fruit to defrost.
                            Another thought is a few cooked shrimp and some cocktail sauce.
                            Wrapping sliced meat around a cheese stick is good.
                            I recently bought some whole wheat rounds by Arnold bakery which look somewhat like pita's except they're the diameter of a hamburg bun. Toasted with hummus is yummy.

                            1. re: greygarious

                              I generally avoid snack size packaging by the plague but I just tried the snack-size cashews and dried cranberries today at TJs. Genius. The nuts stay fresh and a package of each is a great snack.

                              My problem with nuts is the open bag.

                              1. re: JudiAU

                                Yes, it's deadly. I have an open container of honey-roasted cashews in my desk, but not for much longer.

                            2. I find that a BIG piece of nice crusty bread helps the fillingness of soup quite a bit.

                              I keep instant oatmeal in my desk, which is a good fallback. I also keep a mini fridge in my office and stock it on Mondays with hummus, carrot sticks and milk for coffee.


                              1. One thing I would suggest is to get your lunch and snacks organized the night before. I pack lunch most days for my pre-schooler and at the same time, I put my food together too for the next day.

                                I bring breakfast (usually Chobani Vanilla yogurt) with cereal (I measure the cereal and put it in a tupperware).

                                Lunch -- today I brought a small salad (just lettuce, tomato, cucumber) and I keep my dressing in the refrigerator at work. Last night I made baked potatoes and I made an extra one for today's lunch. Granted, it won't be as good when I re-heat it in the microwave, but I still find it pretty filling with some fat-free plain Fage yogurt instead of sour cream.

                                Snack -- I am following WW, so I brought a WW 2 point bar which I will have around 3 or 3:30.

                                My point is that the key is planning. If I don't prepare all of this food the night before, I will never do it in the morning -- too hectic -- and then I will end up in the building cafeteria, which has excellent food, but I will end up eating way too much. And it costs too much too.

                                1. I've recently discovered raw sugar snap peas (not snow peas) as a really delicious, crunchy, high-fiber yet sweet snack. If you have an office fridge, take a big bag on Monday and dish out a bowl for yourself at 3:00 pm. Also, maybe just throw a piece or two of Pepperidge Farm whole-grain cinnamon-raisin bread in a ziploc bag and toast it at 3:00.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: rememberme

                                    The best $100 I've spent in my working career was buying a small fridge for my office. I love having lots of space and not having to share the skanky office fridge.

                                    What about carrot sticks/celery? They can be prepared a few days in advance.
                                    Container of yogurt?
                                    A small bag of trail mix?
                                    I love a cooked and seasoned vegetable to snack on like beets with olive oil or blanched sugar snaps. If you have a TJs nearby? They have some ready prepped.
                                    Also small bags of dried fruit and nuts.

                                    1. re: JudiAU

                                      We're not allowed to do that in our office. Strict rules about no small fridges for energy issues. I solved the problem by becoming the fridge tzar (or nazi, depending on what you've left in the fridge lately ;). I also got us a NEW fridge that's energy efficient, and I keep it clean. :)

                                  2. It sounds like you want something sweet-ish... how about homemade oatmeal cookies with fruit and nuts in them and light on the sugar? They'll keep all week long...