Despite snacking's bad reputation, when done correctly, it can beneficial. The below meal prep snacks will help keep you on track with your healthy eating goals.
Snacking is not a bad thing
First, you may be wondering if snacking is actually good for you or not. Many people think they shouldn't snack. Whether or not snacking is good for somebody will depend on the person but in general, most people do well with at least one snack per day. This is because snacking prevent you from getting overly hungry (aka "hangry") which can lead to overeating and choosing less healthy foods.
The majority of people do not need a snack between breakfast and lunch, but they do benefit from one between lunch and dinner. Around 3 or 4pm would be a reasonable time to have a snack if you are somebody who eats lunch around 12pm and dinner at 6pm to 7pm. Again, this will vary from person to person depending on their schedule.
You may not think you need an afternoon snack but, if you are somebody who snacks while you make dinner or can't stop snacking late into the evening, you would likely benefit from an afternoon snack and the below meal prep friendly snacks can be great options to take to work with you.
Even though smart snacking can be helpful for many people, there is a way of snacking that is not good for your health.
When snacking can go wrong
When it comes to snacking, it is important to avoid getting into the habit of grazing. Grazing usually occurs when people feel like they shouldn't snack so they eat as little as possible. When somebody does this, they usually look for another small snack shortly afterward. It is even possible for this pattern to continue throughout most of the afternoon and evening.
Instead of trying to eat as little as possible, plan to eat a balanced and filling snack. I recommend foods from at least two of the food groups (carbs, protein, and fat) to keep you full and your energy steady. Below are some examples:
- Instead of just carrots → carrots & hummus
- Instead of an apple by itself→ apple & peanut butter
- Instead of chips → chips & guacamole
- Instead of crackers → crackers & hummus
- Instead of just yogurt → yogurt with chia or flax seeds
Why meal prep snacks will help you
Keeping your goals on track is easiest when you are prepared with healthy food. Rather than just grabbing whatever you can find, I recommend meal prepping 2-3 snack options each week.
Having at least a rough plan for what you are going to eat during the week, whether it be meal or snacks, can make a huge difference when it comes to sticking with your healthy eating goals. Changing habits can be difficult. Making it as easy on you as possible is key. That means, make the healthy snacks the easy snacks. If you wait until the last minute when hunger strikes, it is very unlikely that you will take some time to make a healthy snack or that the healthy snack will even taste good. I recommend having a few meal prep snacks with you at work or stock in the kitchen.
Plan your meal prep snacks in advance
Rather than planning out exactly what you will eat each day, I recommend planning out a couple of options to choose from. Then you can decide which snack from the options that you have planned sounds best to you. This encourages you to continue to tune in to your own personal hunger cues and food preferences instead of following an exact plan.
Now that you have permission to have an afternoon snack when the hunger kicks in, you can start planning what you will have.
12 meal prep snacks
- Air fryer roasted chickpeas
- These are a great alternative to croutons! Same salty, crunchy satisfaction but with more fiber and protein!
- Strawberry shortcake energy balls
- Key lime energy balls
- Pumpkin spice energy balls
- Orange cranberry energy balls
- Nut butter stuffed dates
- These are great to satisfy a sweet tooth. You can even top with a couple dark chocolate chips if you like!
- Chia pudding
- This is great for either a snack or breakfast. If eating this as a meal, you do need to make sure you are adding more things to it (i.e. nut butter, granola, oats, etc.) because this alone is not enough to be considered a meal.
- To meal prep smoothies, put all of the smoothie ingredients except for the liquid into single serving freezer storage bags. When you are ready for your smoothie, pull the bag out of the freezer and add to a blender with your liquid of choice.
- Egg salad
- Sometimes scrambled or fried eggs can get boring. Egg salad is a nice way to switch up the way you eat eggs so you don't get bored.
- Veggies and hummus
- If you're feeling up for it, you can try making your own hummus by using the recipe here.
- Yogurt parfait - plain Greek yogurt with berries, chia or flax seeds, and granola
- Be sure to get Greek yogurt instead of regular yogurt as Greek yogurt has more than double the protein of regular yogurt. Protein will help to keep you full and satisfied.
- I recommend plain Greek yogurt but it can be a bit tart. If you are new to Greek yogurt, it is OK to start with a flavored one that has added sugar. If you want to work to reduce your sugar intake, start by mixing the flavored yogurt half and half with plain yogurt. Once you are used to that, you can mix 75% plain Greek yogurt with 25% flavored Greek yogurt. Keep increasing the amount of plain yogurt until you are able to have just the plain Greek yogurt. If you never get there, that is OK too!
- Apple with cinnamon and peanut butter
- The added cinnamon adds a nice flavor boost to this classic snack. Cinnamon is also good for blood sugar control, amongst other things.
- Air fryer kale chips
- I won't lie and say these taste as good as regular tortilla chips but they are a fun way to change up the way you eat kale.