In a perfect world, healthy snack bars would be at every street corner; fully stocked with nuts, fruits, veggies, yogurt parfaits and hummus (no snack bar is complete without hummus). And of course the prices would be super affordable and the packaging would be environmentally friendly. Alas, in reality, the healthy store-bought snacks are way too overpriced and the affordable ones are way too processed. Thus, leaving us to prepare our own “just right” snacks. But this task undoubtedly takes much more pre-planning, pantry-stocking, prepping and packing than we’d like. Where to start?
1. Only the rich and famous can afford healthy snacks
You know there’s something wrong with the food system when a yogurt parfait is twice the price of a chocolate chip cookie. Feeling like a refreshing smoothie at 4pm? Smoothies and shakes at health food establishments cost anywhere between $5 - $10. When on a tight budget, it is difficult to justify spending that much on a daily basis. Especially, when you know you can walk into the grocery store and buy ingredients for a whole dinner with that much money… or buy a large pizza that will most probably last a few meals (guilty of that one). “Do it yourself” has been my mantra since college years, mainly because healthy snacks that are prepared outside of the home are simply way too over-priced.
2. The most stressful part of meal planning can be snacks
You’ve planned, shopped, chopped, prepped and cooked dinners and lunches for the next few days. Snacks? Darn! But, who has time for another grocery run? I’ll be honest, on days I’ve forgotten to prepare a snack, I pack an extra large lunch and split it up into two or three different eating sessions. Despite how bored my palate may be, I’ve managed to save myself a lot of time, money and empty calories. But, I’m not a mom and I still have room for these kinds of slip-ups. For all the busy parents out there with picky eaters and allergies to consider, packing snacks could be the hardest part about meal planning.
Here are a few awesome articles on very practical snacking options for the busy and the health conscious:
8 Take-to-Work Snacks: http://www.buzzfeed.com/jessseinfeld/healthy-and-delicious-take-to-work-snacks-87eq
40 Non-processed Snack for Busy Moms: http://eatlocalgrown.com/article/11375-quick-clean-eating-40-non-processed-snacks-for-busy-moms.html?c=cure
3. The perfect snack formula
When it comes to snacks, fruits and vegetables simply don’t cut it for me. Despite how much I wanted to be fully satisfied with munching on carrots sticks at the office, it just wasn’t happening. I’d get frustrated knowing that I took the time to peel, chop and pack my healthy snack only to get hungry again long before my next meal. So, back to the drawing board I went. But, why weren’t fruits and veggies alone doing the trick? Studies show that foods that have more protein, fats and soluble fibre tend to make us feel full for longer.
Although, some fruits and vegetables contain soluble fibre most have very little protein and/or fat. So, all things considered, there are a lot of variables that come into play when striving to make the perfect snack. And this is what they boil down to: Yummy + Easy to Make + Affordable + Healthy + Keep Me Full = Perfect Snack. Here’s a sample list of snack-type foods that can be mixed and matched for the perfect snack combo.
Most affordable snacks high in protein: eggs, yogurt, hummus (home-made), kidney/navy beans, almonds (bought in bulk), cashews (bought in bulk), peanut butter, oats
Most affordable snacks that have healthy fats: Avocados, almonds, almond butter, olive oil, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, olive oil
Most affordable snacks high in soluble fibre: black beans, oats, brussell sprouts, celery, carrots, apricots
Snacks that are nutrient dense but low in calories: take your pick from your favourite in-season fruits and vegetables
My latest obsession:Hummus guacamole anyone? Who said you can't have the best of both worlds?! Check it out here.