Making healthy snacks for people on-the-go doesn’t need to be so hard!
Snacks are critical to your healthy eating success. In fact, if you are eating healthy, you NEED to eat snacks to get you to your next meal without that ‘I’m going to starve to death’ feeling (which I personally do not like!).
Here are a few simple guidelines to follow for healthy snacks that are quick and easy to assemble.
But here is THE KEY to success: plan ahead and assemble them in to-go containers so they are READY-TO-GRAB on the way out!
But first, junk food is NOT a snack.
Pretzels, chips, cookies, fruit chews, snack cakes, etc. NONE of these are snacks.
These are junk foods.
And junk food in 100-calorie snack-sized bags or boxes is still junk food.
I go as far as saying these are sweet and salty TREATS.
How about a cracker? No. Crackers are salty cookies!
EAT REAL FOOD SNACKS! (ok, rant over)
So, what is necessary to make healthy snacks for people on-the-go?
The right food.
The right size.
And, the right recipe.
The trick is getting the right food in the right amount to keep you from feeling hungry without a lot of calories.
So use the right recipe!
It’s simple. It’s just:
A protein OR dairy AND a fruit OR vegetable.
The truth is that any lean protein or dairy and any fruit or vegetable can be considered a healthy snack if it is in the right amount.
There isn’t a ‘set’ list of snack foods.
Sometimes, even some of your leftovers in your frig can make perfect snacks!
The only rule: A healthy snack is a total of 100-150 calories.
PRO Tip: Eating the fruit or veggie provides quick energy; calories that will be used quickly. Pairing that with a lean protein or dairy offers fat or protein calories that will last a bit longer, so you don’t feel hungry again too fast. The goal is that the snack carries you to your next meal with less hunger-if you leave off the protein or dairy you will be hungry much, much sooner.
I do not recommend grains as a snack (especially when you first start eating healthy) because the calorie count is usually high, you feel hungry soon, and it is easy to slip into the junk food area. My exceptions: popcorn and granola!
And, for me, I want to chew more than one time. If I gulp down a snack in one bite, I’m going to be looking for another snack pretty darn quick! I’m guessing you feel the same, so make sure you eat ENOUGH food for a snack, which means eating the right portion size.
Most people can eat 2-3 snacks per day, plus 3 (or 4) healthy meals when eating healthy food.
Portion size is significant with snacks. Snacks are a common place for extra calories to come into your dietary intake. (It’s the first place I look when coaching people who want to eat healthier).
So, snacks should be measured with an actual measuring cup or weighed on a kitchen scale, especially when you are first learning to eat healthier.
Depending on the food, 1/4 – 1 cup is a proper serving size for fresh fruits and vegetables.
I like this Measuring Cup and Spoon Set because it has more than the primary 4 cups (it also includes 1/8, 2/3, & 3/4 cups), which helps when you are in a hurry and measure a variety of food.
Lean protein (meats, nuts, fish) and dairy portions will vary. Check serving sizes on the package. It is ok to eat 1/2 of serving size or weigh the meat (i.e., 3-4 ounces of meat). I like this digital food scale because I have found it to be precise, and easy to clean.
Quick tip: When you choose whole fruit (like an apple or peach), make a fist with your hand and set it on a table. Then, look at the circle on the top side of your fist, and that will be close to the perfect size of fruit you should eat for a snack (or the opening of a ½ cup!).
Two Common Challenges:
If you don’t have a way to keep your food cool, you have two choices. Choose foods that don’t need it, or find some way to cool it.
Many fruits & veggies like apples, mandarins, oranges, bananas, carrots, and celery are okay without it for a short time. If you prefer berries or slices of cucumber or other perishable fruits or veggies, you need to choose some way to keep it fresh.
Any sized insulated bag with an ice pack of some kind will work.
We love the Icy Cools Reusable Ice Cubes because they work in any size bag and will surround any shaped food or container.
When refrigeration is an issue, my family chooses to forego dairy. The best solution for refrigeration-free proteins is nuts or seeds.
Which brings me to a challenge we experience on a daily basis.
Like many families, we have food allergies to work around. Because of tree-nut allergies, we have found seeds to be the best go-to protein for us when refrigeration is not an option.
However, it was a challenge finding seeds that were completely allergen free. Now, we support Gerbs for this because they are processed in a plant that is free from the 12 top allergens.
Ideas to make healthy snacks for people on-the-go:
As I said above, there is no special list of ‘approved’ snack food. Eat what you like!
But, sometimes it’s just hard to come up with something in a hurry, so here is a quick list to get you started.
First, choose a serving of lean protein or dairy:
A hard-boiled egg, almonds, walnuts, pecans, (nuts, etc.), peanuts, peanut butter, sunflower or pumpkin seeds, hummus, lunch meat slices, leftover chicken breast, or a can or pouch of tuna or salmon or sardines, a few shrimp, etc.
Mozzarella cheese stick, cottage cheese, plain greek yogurt, dip, or milk.
Apple, orange, clemantines, bananas, strawberries, grapes, blueberries, dried fruit (1/8 – 1/4 cup), watermelon, cherries, rasperries, etc.
Carrots, celery, lunch box peppers, sliced cucumbers, sugar pea pods, slightly balanced broccoli, cauliflower or asparagus.
The combinations are endless!
Carrots + hummus,
2 clementines + 1 cheese stick
Berries + cottage cheese
Seeds + peppers
Dip + celery
Can of tuna + blueberries
A quick final word of advice when you make healthy snacks for people on-the-go:
When I first started eating healthier I struggled with healthy snack ideas.
I worried I was eating the wrong foods because I thought there were special ‘snack’ foods, and I had a hard time coming up with creative but easy, snack options. I struggled with making quick tasty snacks for my busy family members, going in all different directions.
But, then I realized snacks were nothing more than small portions of REAL FOOD! So, after that, every time I made a grocery shopping list, I added a few snack food options to the list. I started menu planning and made sure I put 2-3 snacks into each day.
This is what I’d like to tell you, friends: You can do this! Trust your tastes and just start choosing a couple of foods from the ‘recipe’ above.
You will experience how snacks keep you (& your family) from being so hungry. Then, in just a short time, you will find your favorites and you will see ways to make it even quicker and easier.
So commit to eating healthier snacks. Start by writing down two of your favorite you remembered or thought of after reading the foods in this post.
Now, put them on your grocery list.
And just like that, change is already beginning. You can do this!
Need an inspiration list to get you started? Subscribe to the My Life Nurse Weekly Email Newsletter and receive this Healthy Snacks Recipe List FREE! Happy snacking!!