It’s hard to eat healthily, especially at work. A number of companies have sprung up to supply workers with healthy snacks. But is this really necessary, and are there other options? This article suggests a different approach to eating healthily at work.
Healthy Snacks at Work may be Better than Brown-Bag Lunches
Any frugal or green living guide will suggest that employees “brown-bag” their lunches (though to be truly frugal and eco-friendly it’s better to bring a reusable container instead). Frequently, however, busy workers either don’t have time for lunch, or don’t make time. Even cerebral desk jobs leave the employee hungry, since thinking is hungry work. Brown bag or no brown bag, a worker may turn to the vending machine for fuel, then wonder why he’s twenty pounds heavier.
At this stage the worker might turn to a snack delivery service. For anywhere from $5-$10 a package, companies will mail customers a snack box containing fruit like cherries and grapes, nuts, and other healthy nibbles.
Snack boxes are definitely better than skipping lunch in favor of cookies and candy, but they’re hardly cost-effective or eco-friendly. Not only will the customer spend over $25 a week on these snacks, she contributes to a wasteful habit: The package must be mailed, and the box it came in must be disposed of.
Do-It-Yourself Healthy Snacks For Work
As an alternative to mail order snack boxes, an employee might also exchange a small weekly effort for considerable savings of money and waste. The first step, then, would be to acquire compartmentalized containers–for this method he needs one plastic container per day spent in the office, and the willingness to go food shopping at the weekend.
Each weekend, the working person gathers together and processes (i.e. cuts up) a variety of healthy snacks and arranges them in the containers. The boxes then go into the fridge and one is packed into the briefcase or purse each morning.
If not in the habit of visiting the fridge first thing each morning, the worker can place a note near somewhere that he will be (the coffee-maker, for example). The idea is to make it impossible to forget a snack box.
Now, for a fraction of the cost and limited waste, the employee has healthy snacks that can sit on her desk for grazing throughout the day.
Where Can Healthy Snacks be Bought?
A farmer’s market, where available, is the best option. The produce is fresh, local, and can be examined before purchase; visiting a farmer’s market is also a fun excuse to get out of the house. Almost everything at a farmer’s market will be in season, so the costs are lower, too. Second best is a local produce stand.
Supermarket produce and deli sections would be the next choice, and are in most cases more convenient. While specialty health food stores are increasingly popular, prices there are often inflated. If cost is an issue, stick to supermarkets and pick no-frills stores which spend less time on presentation and advertising, passing on the savings to customers
The shopper may also wish to investigate food co-ops and membership-based discount stores, particularly if he wants to buy dry goods in bulk. The trick is to never buy more food than can be used up before it goes off.
What Healthy Snacks are Best?
Look for produce that is seasonal, and which comes in bite-sized pieces. Also try to avoid foods that are messy, too juicy or which cannot be eaten in one bite. The exception would be citrus, which can be rested on their own peel and eaten one section at a time.
Here are some examples:
- Fruit: Berries, cherries, cherry tomatoes, figs, grapes, small citrus (satsumas, tangerines, clementines)
- Vegetables: Pieces of celery, carrot, broccoli, cauliflower, radishes
- Nuts: Pistachios, cashews, brazil nuts, almonds, walnuts, shell peanuts
- Other: Jerky, dried fruit
Avoid prepackaged items such as granola bars. They are expensive, come with in-built waste, and are often packed with sugar.
Over time, the worker will be able to better gauge how much to pack for a day. By cutting out most sugar he will also likely find that his energy levels are much higher, and that the scales become kinder, too. It only takes a few minutes each weekend to assemble the snack packs, and the end result is far better for the body, productivity, the environment, and the pocket book.