Many people find that consuming several small meals or snacks during the day works best with their schedule and energy needs. When planning small meals and snacks, keep in mind variety, convenience, healthy choices, cost, and waste. Purchased snacks are often high in added fat, sodium, and sugar. Check nutrition labels for sodium content per serving. The American Heart Association recommends no more than 1500 mg per day, especially for those with high blood pressure or heart disease. Try to stay under 15 mg per day for added sugar also, as added sugar can increase inflammation in the body. It is also important to snack mindfully. Don’t eat while you are doing something else. Instead, pause with what you are doing for a few minutes and take time to enjoy your snack.
A snack usually consists of approximately 200 calories while a small meal is about double that at 400-500 calories. Here are several ideas for quick snacks and small meals, all low in sodium and added sugar, that you can easily and inexpensively prepare on your own.
- Cantaloupe or pineapple cubes with vanilla Greek yogurt
- Hummus with sliced veggies
- Apple slices with peanut butter
- Dried apricots with chocolate covered nuts
- Banana with nut butter
- Frozen fruit and Greek yogurt smoothie
- Whole grain toast with almond butter and fruit
- Low fat blueberry muffin with hot chocolate
- Boiled egg with an orange
- String cheese and dried fruit
- Oatmeal cookie and milk
- Low sodium crackers with tuna or chicken salad
- Low sodium tuna in ½ avocado
- One half low sodium turkey or tuna sandwich with fruit
- Scrambled egg with toast and avocado slices
- Oatmeal with yogurt and berries
- Whole grain toaster waffle with peanut butter, jelly and banana
- Bean soup with crackers and cheese
- Pasta and veggie salad
- Small baked potato with green salad
With a bit of creativity, most of the above snacks and small meals can be portable as well. Stock up on ingredients to be prepared to make your own snacks at home. Make sure you also have zip lock plastic bags for fresh fruits and vegetables, and glass containers for anything that may need to be heated in microwave. Put aside an evening or weekend afternoon to shop and prep for healthy snacks and they will be quick and assessable to you all week!