You’ve just gotten home from work. You’re exhausted and your stomach is rumbling like an eighteen wheeler driving over a pitted road. The last thing you want to do is cook.
It’s at moments like these that your commitment to eating healthy is in the greatest peril. If you don’t have something to feed your tired hunger as soon as you walk in the door, you’re liable to fall on a candy bar or a bag of chips, or, heaven forbid, head out to the nearest fast food joint and binge on sodium, grease and sugar.
The most effective way to head off a gastric meltdown of epic proportions is to have something healthy in your kitchen that you can eat within minutes.
It helps to have cooked protein on hand, if you’re a meat-eater. On a day when you’ve got a little extra time, bake or saute chicken tenderloins with salt and pepper. Steam shrimp in their shells with Old Bay and parsley. Keep these on standby in your fridge for those moments when you haven’t got the patience or energy to cook a meal from scratch.
Here are 10 healthy, calorie-friendly snack and meal ideas that will satisfy you before you get the chance to even think about the country buffet up the road.
10 healthy go-to snacks
- Lettuce wraps – Wrap a leaf of Romaine or Boston Butter lettuce around the chicken tenderloins or shrimp, sliced avocado and a spoonful of salsa.
- Greek yogurt cups – Stock your refrigerator with zero- or two-percent unflavored Greek yogurt. Add a sprinkle of chia or flax seeds to ramp up the protein and drizzle with honey.
- Frozen edamame – Soy beans are a quick, protein-packed snack. Microwave half a bag in a microwave-safe container with a tablespoon of water to help them steam. Serve them in their pods, dusted with salt.
- Nuts and raisins – A handful of nuts like almonds, walnuts or pecans deliver healthy fats that will satiate hunger quickly. Pair them with a fiber-rich fruit like raisins for a crave-busting two-punch.
- Banana and nut butter – Bananas are nature’s fast food. Peel, slice into one-inch bites and top with a small dollop of nut butter, such as peanut or almond.
- Quick salad – Toss pre-washed greens with flax seeds, sliced onion, raw mushrooms (don’t even waste time slicing them, just break them into chunks with your hands) and your cooked chicken or shrimp. Dress with a drizzle of olive oil, salt and chives.
- Cucumber stacks – Slice cucumbers into half-inch rounds and salt lightly. Top with smoked salmon, half a teaspoon of a creamy herb cheese and chopped red onion. The salmon can be exchanged for virtually any meat of your choice, like chopped shrimp or shredded turkey.
- Instant black bean chili – Warm a bowl of canned black beans in the microwave, seasoned with chili powder, cumin and garlic. Top with chopped tomatoes, sliced avocado, sprigs of cilantro and raw onion.
- Tomato caprese – Top thick slices of tomato with equally thick slices of fresh mozzarella. Scatter with fresh basil and top with olive oil and salt. If you’re avoiding dairy, skip the cheese altogether.
- Wilted spinach and shrimp – Wilt a large bunch of spinach in olive oil in a pan over medium-high heat. The spinach will wilt in under a minute and reduce greatly. Top with your cooked shrimp.
Don’t let exhaustion and hunger derail you from sticking to your health and wellness goals. A few smart kitchen staples and a little creativity will calm the hungry beast and give your body the nutrition it needs.