My Surprisingly Easy Go-To Snacks for Busy Weeks
Pictured Recipe: Classic Hummus
Welcome to Thrifty. A weekly column where assistant nutrition editor and registered dietitian, Jessica Ball, keeps it real on how to grocery shop on a budget, make healthy meals for one or two and make earth-friendly choices without overhauling your entire life.
When my weeks start to ramp up, I am all about whole food snacks that have minimal prep. When planning my snacks for the week, I make sure that both protein and produce are involved to keep them healthy and filling, while also hitting the flavors I want. I am primarily a salty snacker and prefer cheese to most anything else, but there are some options on this list for sweet snackers as well. My efforts to meal prep are usually pretty minimal but these quick snacks save me from afternoon slumps and hanger all week long.
Apples & Peanut Butter
This one may feel like a no-brainer but it is one of my standbys. If you want to avoid peanuts, any nut butter will do here. This easy snack is packed with protein and healthy fat from the peanut butter and loaded with fiber and vitamins from the apple. Together, you will feel full and satisfied from the variety of nutrients and flavors. To make it even simpler, I keep a jar of peanut butter at my desk at work so all I have to remember to do is throw an apple in my bag before I leave.
Hummus, Sliced Vegetables & Pita
I slice up a large container of vegetables, including but not limited to cucumbers, carrots and bell peppers, to start each week. To have this snack ready to go, all you need to do is scoop some hummus and a handful of sliced vegetables into a reusable food-storage container. For a heartier snack with some whole grains, I will add a few slices of whole-wheat pita as well. My preference is to make my own hummus from scratch. This saves me money (a can of chickpeas is usually less than $2) and allows me to play with different flavors combinations. Start with our Classic Hummus recipe, then try adding fresh herbs, spices or other vegetables, like beets, to boost the flavor even more. It does takes slightly more prep but the 10 minutes is worth it and will have you forgetting about store-bought alternatives.
Hard-Boiled Egg & Sliced Tomato
Before I start making my hummus for the week, I put on a pot of boiling water for hard-boiled eggs. In 10 minutes, I have part of my breakfasts and snacks for the week already set to go. I usually make three or four more eggs than I am planning to have for breakfast so that I have some left over for savory snacking purposes. For additional nutrition and flavor, I pair the egg with a sliced tomato and some flaky salt. For some extra healthy fat and to make it more filling, add some sliced avocados. And maybe some fresh herbs, too. Get creative with it.
Pictured Recipe: Egg Salad Avocado Toast
I know what you're thinking, such a classic millennial move. But this is an easy, tasty snack packed with healthy fats, whole grains, protein and filling flavor. If you like spice (like me) top it with a dash of red pepper flakes or hot sauce. And if you're really in need of something more to tide you over, tack on a hard-boiled egg (see, I told you it helps to have some extras around). Or, to really switch things up, add a schmear of hummus before topping the toast with sliced avocado. If you couldn't tell, I try to make the components of my snacks versatile so that I can switch it up throughout the week and avoid getting bored with the same flavor combinations every day.
Cheese, Nuts & Fruit
This is the fanciest feeling zero-prep snack out there. It is the perfect balance of sweet, salty, savory and creamy and will make you feel like you're eating hors d'oeuvres rather than an afternoon snack. Not to mention, these foods together pack a healthful punch of protein, carbohydrates and fats so your body is getting all of the nutrients it needs to function at its best.
Pictured Recipe: Ricotta & Yogurt Parfait
Greek Yogurt & Berries
This is one of the rare sweet snacks on this list but I love it all the same. Greek yogurt is packed with protein, and I always opt for the full fat version for extra creaminess and satiety. To save money, I choose frozen berries and, honestly, I prefer their taste and texture over fresh for mixing with yogurt as well. To take it a step further, check out our Healthy Parfait Recipes for more ingredients to add and flavor combinations to explore.
The Bottom Line
There are plenty of snack options that come from whole foods and this list is definitely not all-encompassing. But these are a few of my favorite, go-to snacks that take me just a few minutes to prep and are craveable all week long. I try to make the parts of my snacks, like hummus, eggs and fruit, interchangeable, so that I can mix it up as the week goes on. Planning ahead with snacks helps you from getting famished and all the unpleasant side effects that come with that. Opting for whole foods and making things from scratch, like hummus, are great another way to stay budget-friendly while eating healthy and deliciously.