One of my favorite activities involves imagining my would-be corner office. It has big windows with an expansive view of Manhattan and also, a mini-fridge. But, most days, like most people, I’m lucky if I have a drawer. And if you have a drawer, you might as well make the most of that precious real estate. Tampons, lipstick, and I.M.O., most importantly: snacks.
According to Katherine Brooking, M.S., R.D., and co-founder of Appetite for Health one of the best ways to stock up smartly is by purchasing pre-portioned foods. And thanks to an increasingly health-conscious society (or just smart marketing teams), it’s becoming easier and easier to do so. You don’t even need a refrigerator.
Brooking and I talked about foods that keep you focused even when your eyes are computer sore and you’re dreaming of bed and Netflix. Her suggestions assume that you’ve had a balanced breakfast and lunch and work on the proven notion that protein promotes satiety. So how can you get a good protein fix (between four and six grams) in 200 calories or fewer?
DESK STAPLES TO MIX AND MATCH
The best part of this easy to gather smattering of desk drawer staples is the fact they can be mixed in unexpected ways to prevent snacking boredom.
1. Whole Wheat Crackers with Fiber and Protein
2. Nut Butters in Pre-Packaged Pouches
These packets from Justin’s are a favorite of so many nutritionists I feel like I never stop talking about them. That is, in part, because they are just 80 calories a pop!
3. Whole Fruit
Bananas, apples, and pears are equally good on their own or topped by the aforementioned nut butters.
4. Tuna and Salmon Fresh Packs
Brooking introduced me to these Starkist fresh pouches, pre-portioned servings of protein via fish. Who knew? But the Starkist variety is just one option, and Brooking notes that any will do.
For another, less-expected mix-n-match: Brooking recommends tuna on apple slices for its combination of healthy carbs and protein.
5. Pre-Portioned Bags of Nuts or Trail Mix
Nuts and dried fruit are notoriously easy to overeat, but in moderation they can be the perfect snack for stashing in your desk drawer. Be sure to look for mixes that don’t contain additives or preservatives, and try to purchase pre-packaged individual servings or make your own by putting a small scoop in small bags so there’s no guesswork. If you just want nuts, go for almonds or pistachios, which are extra-high in protein!
6. An Extra Serving of Veggies
Lots of us consumer extra calories throughout the day but fall very short on recommended portions of vegetables. For an easy and very affordable fix, Brooking recommends V8 Low Sodium Vegetable Juice, which in just 5.5 ounces provides a daily recommended serving of vegetables along with other vital nutrients like potassium.
I recently splurged on a S’well resusable water bottle, which keeps liquid cold for up to 24 hours and hot for 12. Since we know that drinking water can stave off hunger, this might be the most important thing to keep at the office.
One more tip: If you’ve had balanced meals throughout the day, and your approximately 200 calorie snack, try to wait 20-30 minutes before eating more. That’s how long it can take to register fullness. A 200 calorie snack with protein or healthy fats should go a long way to quell a hunger pang and get you through the day. If you find yourself eating more and more snacks and consuming closer to 600 calories, it starts to count more as a fourth meal than a snack, so if you snack at 4:45, spring for an early dinner instead of a larger (4th) meal of snacks.