You know the drill. You used the last of your energy pushing through the post-lunch drowsiness and suddenly it’s mid-afternoon and you’re hungry again. Like chewing-the-inside-of-your-cheek, thinking-about-getting-another-poke-bowl hungry. Dinner seems so far away it might as well be next week.
Getting hit with the 3 p.m. munchies can undo your whole day, especially if that one coworker made cupcakes again. The good news? There are plenty of snacks that can keep you satisfied without spoiling dinner. The key is to reach for options with protein and fiber, two nutrients that give you the most bang for your buck. Barb Patterson, R.D., suggests reaching for options that are between 100 and 150 calories for women and 150 and 200 for men with at least 15 grams of protein.
To make it easy for you, here are six satisfying and easy-to-stash-in-a-drawer options that check the healthy-eating boxes above.
1. Peanut Butter and Banana
If your mom packed this kind of snack for you when you were a kid, she did you right. Peanut butter is high in protein and healthy fats, while bananas are naturally sweet and rich in potassium. Research has even found bananas may prevent cancer, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Make yourself an extra-filling grown-up version by stirring about half a scoop of your favorite protein powder into the peanut butter; it should put you around 13 to 20 grams of protein.
You've probably heard jerky praised for being a healthy source of protein, but most kinds are filled with sugar and nitrates. Biltong is the cured meat snack you've been missing: It's coated in spices, salt, pepper, and a touch of vinegar before being left to dry in the open air. The result is a minimally processed, low-sugar, high-protein snack that's free of nasty preservatives. Stryve biltong, for example, has only 1 gram of sugar and 36 grams of protein per bag. Trust us, you're going to want to switch to biltong.
3. DIY Trail Mix
Snacks that offer a little variety will keep your taste buds occupied while your body gets the energy it needs. Instead of buying premade trail mix, throw together a homemade assortment of your favorite nuts and dried fruits to avoid a ton of added salt and sugar.
When it comes to protein and fiber, some of the best nuts are almonds (which are also loaded with vitamin E and antioxidants), pumpkin seeds (they pack high amounts of zinc and magnesium, giving you even more of an energy boost), and cashews (a good source of copper, for strong bones). Fruit wise, try fiber-rich figs, apricots, and prunes—but be sure to look for ones with little to no added sugar. Or try one of these trail-mix combos.
4. Better-for-You Crackers and Dip
As with trail mix, making your own crackers is a simple way to make sure you're getting more nutritional value per bite. These keto-friendly rosemary and sea salt flax crackers, for example, are made with flax seeds, eggs, Parmesan, and fresh rosemary. One serving has roughly 11 grams of protein, so dip them in hummus, peanut butter, or cottage cheese for even more of a boost.
5. Roasted Chickpeas
An alternative to hummus, roasted chickpeas are a versatile snack you can dress up however you like—not to mention high in fiber, protein, potassium, and vitamin C. Make them sweet with a dusting of antioxidant-rich cinnamon, brown sugar, or cocoa powder; or go the spicy-salty route with salt and cayenne pepper.
You might want to clear this one with your coworkers first, but sardines are one of the all-time best snacks. Full of heart-healthy omega-3s, they come in easily transportable, single-serving cans, making them ideal for stashing. The tiny fish also contain high amounts of calcium, vitamin B-12, and vitamin D, and are a low-impact food, ecologically and environmentally speaking. Pair with one of the crackers above and a bit of Dijon mustard or eat 'em straight out of the can if you don't mind the taste and texture. Don’t be surprised if you start an office-wide trend.