Between hectic work meetings and pressing deadlines, staying fueled throughout the workday is top priority. Whether you’re going into the office or working from home, you need nutritious foods and snacks that will keep you focused, energized and powered for whatever is thrown your way. Plus, options that are convenient, portable and simple to enjoy at your desk are imperative.
Enter our nutrition experts in the Good Housekeeping Institute Nutrition Lab; we’ve rounded up the best healthy snacks for work, focusing on real whole foods that are packed with fiber and protein, but keep added sugar and sodium counts in check. From savory to spicy, these options are bursting with flavor and are sure to satisfy any craving. Here are our top picks for deskside healthy snacks to have on hand:
Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
This delicious and nutritious snack is packed with plant-based protein and crunch. Also known as pepitas, this snack is loaded with tons of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Plus, you can easily make your own at home and they make for the best office snack.
Get the recipe for Roasted Pumpkin Seeds >>
Fruit and Cheese
You can easily grab part-skim cheese and an apple on your way out the door, and the combo can pack up to 5 grams of filling fiber from the fruit and 5 to 8 grams of protein per piece of cheese. Fresh fruit of any kind is great, but we’ll jump for just-as-nutritious frozen options if I’m in a bind.
If you’re looking for a little heat, keeping wasabi peas on hand for that afternoon slump can be a perfect solution. They are crispy and crunchy, plus packed with flavor and fiber. You can even add them to your lunchtime salad or soup too.
Low-Sugar Granola Bars
Bars are a great fall-back, if you know what to look for! Opt for ones with real food as the first ingredient — whether it’s fruit, nuts or oats — and the smallest amount of added sugar possible. They should fall in the 150 to 250 calories range and 3 grams of fiber and protein per bar.
RELATED: The Best Healthy Granola Bars
Trail Mix Packs
Trail mix can be the ultimate snack, packed with fiber, plant-based protein and healthy fats. Consider portion-controlled trail mix packs or making your own trail mix and dividing it into little baggies to store at work. If you’re buying premade, opt for mixes that have a nut or seed as the first ingredient and be conscious of sodium and sugar counts.
Pumpkin Cherry Breakfast Cookies
These delicious on-the-go treats are packed with protein (and fiber) to keep you energized till noon. Best of all, they aren’t just for a quick and easy breakfast; they make for the ideal afternoon snack too. These cooled cookies can be wrapped in plastic and stored at room temperature up to 2 days or frozen up to 2 weeks.
Get the recipe for Pumpkin Cherry Breakfast Cookies >>
If fresh fruit is too much of a hassle to bring into the office, try this shelf-stable option. Fruit crisps and dehydrated fruit are convenient options that can help you meet your produce quota and are a healthy snack that doesn’t require a fridge. Look for dehydrated or air-dried fruit crisps with no added sugar. Eat as a snack on their own or add to trail-mix for a fiber boost.
Chickpeas can be roasted and then enjoyed on their own or added to your favorite lunchtime salad. You can buy them pre-roasted or simply roast them yourself. Plus, they are loaded with plant-based protein and fiber. Our Good Housekeeping Test Kitchen found the perfect spice combinations to add to your roasted chickpeas, like maple cinnamon and spicy buffalo.
Get the recipe for Chickpea “Nuts” >>
Low-Sugar Oatmeal Cups
You can certainly store oatmeal packets in your office desk drawer, but instant oatmeal cups are even more convenient since no extra special bowls or dishwashing is required. Just add water and zap in the office microwave or simply add hot water and let it sit for a few minutes. But be sure to look for options that don’t have crazy added sugar counts; under 10 grams of added sugar per cup is a good benchmark.
RELATED: Oatmeal Nutrition & Health Benefits
Grass-Fed & Grass-Finished Jerky
This portable snacks is a loaded with protein and is typically a low-carb option too. Look for jerky options that are grass-fed and grass-finished, and don’t forget to check sodium counts.
RELATED: The Best Beef Jerky Brands
Tuna or Chicken Pouches
No can opener required here! These trusty pouches give you fresh quality and taste in the convenience of an on-the-go pouch. They come in tuna or chicken and can be enjoyed directly from the pouch or pair them with your favorite crackers. You can even keep extra around to use as a protein topping for your work salad. They tend to be protein-rich but take note of sodium levels.
Making a batch of homemade granola over the weekend can come in handy for snacking during the week. Enjoy it on its own or assemble a quick yogurt parfait at work; just scoop granola into a portioned cup of your favorite low-sugar Greek yogurt. Our Good Housekeeping Test Kitchen developed granola five different ways to satisfy any flavor preference.
Get the recipe for Best-Ever Granola >>
Nut or Seed Butter Packs
The creaminess provides a fill-you-up texture to (almost!) anything you’re eating, and it’s a super fast and inexpensive way to get protein, fiber and healthy fats from a deliciously decadent source. Peanut butter provides 8 grams of protein in just two tablespoons and makes everything (from toast to fruit slices to dipping sauce) taste better. A portion-controlled pack is portable, can be stored in your office desk drawer or even in your wallet. Have it on its own or pair it with crackers or a piece of fruit.
Mini Rice Cakes
Mini rice cakes are perfect for snacking and now come in a variety of flavors, from cinnamon sugar to white cheddar. Plus, they tend to be pretty low in calories, making them ideal for munching. They pair great with those nut or seed butter packs too.
Very Berry Quinoa Muffins
Homemade muffins can be the perfect work time snack. These light and healthy muffins have 6 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber per muffin to keep you fueled and satisfied. Plus, they feature fresh raspberries for tart fruitiness and flavor.
Get the recipe for Very Berry Quinoa Muffins >>
These increasingly popular seaweed sheets are roasted and lightly salted for crunchy, savory goodness. You can typically find them in the cracker and pretzel aisle. They are naturally low in calories and some brands season them with teriyaki or wasabi for extra flavor.
Whole-grain popcorn can be the ultimate cravings-killer. It satisfies the need for crunch, and it’s lower in calories than buttery, oily fried snacks when air-popped. A 1-ounce serving can also puff up to 4 cups, which feels like a lot when you snack! For a flavor boost, I love topping popcorn with chili flakes, sea salt or garlic powder.
This complete plant-based protein sources is packed with fiber too. You may be more familiar with the steamed variety, but roasted options are typically shelf-stable and come in pre-portioned bags.
Pre-Made Protein Shakes
A ready-to-drink protein shake can be great in a pinch to tide you over between meetings. But not all protein shakes are ideal; you’ll want to keep added sugar numbers in check and be sure to look at ingredient lists. Look for about 15-30 grams of protein per shake and try to get 3 grams of fiber too. Check out the GH Nutrition Lab’s top pre-made protein shake picks.
Looking for more healthy snacks for work?
Our nutrition experts evaluate hundreds of snacks year round to bring you the best of the best in terms of nutrition and taste. Check out our list of winners for the 2021 Good Housekeeping Healthy Snack Awards here for more snacking inspiration.
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