Health & Lifestyle

Weekly SNACK prep: Our Go-to Kitchen Staples

Simple is Sustainable.

So meal prep has really been growing on social media lately. People are loving the idea of having quick healthy meals packed and ready to go. How else are you going to curb those spontaneous cravings? But let’s be honest– you’re more likely to “cheat” with a snack than with a whole meal. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with some sweet or salty treats in moderation, but if you find yourself getting into the habit of picking up the nearest vending machine item or fast-food snack, it might be the time to cut back. You’re probably not even craving those snacks as much as you think you are, they’re just the closest things to you and the easiest to access whenever you get a burst of hunger.

An easy weekly routine we’ve gotten into to help us eat healthy and make smarter meals is snack “prepping.” It’s not quite as hefty or tiresome as meal prepping 5 meals for the week can be. This just requires washing, cutting, storing, or simply buying the snacks we can easily grab when we get the munchies, or base our meals on. We’ve collected a nice list of 10 food items that help us feel good, fight cravings, and are low in excess refined sugars, saturated fats, and sodium. We try our hardest to keep these stocked in our kitchen every week. The vending machine ain’t got nothing on these.

Baby Carrots

Baby carrots are easily going to be some of the healthiest most convenient snacks you can find. You don’t even have to prep them–they come ready to eat. That makes them one of the only vegetables like that because you always always always need to wash other veggies. A good amount of them require cooking too and who really has time for that everyday? We find it a lot easier to grab something healthy and quick to eat when we w’re hungry instead of some chips when we keep baby carrots in the fridge. Lots of times you just want something to munch on.

There’s a nice amount in the bag and most of the time, they’re actually kinda sweet. Not like candy sweet or anything but tasty enough to curb some cravings. Not saying you can’t have your chips too, but these will help fill you up quicker. While we tend to ours plain, you can have a truly flavorful snack on your hands by keeping a dip ready. Ranch is classic, but the wave nowadays seems to ditch the salad dressings. It’s your choice, but we’ve even enjoyed dipping them in cottage cheese. It’s really high in protein, delicious, and pretty low in calories for the serving size.

If you’re trying to really limit your sodium or caloric intake, you can make your own dip. It’s always good to control your portion so we’d suggest pouring whatever dip into a little container first so you don’t overeat. Don’t want to take away from the health benefits of the baby carrots in the first place!

Oats/ Ground up Oat “flour”

We pretty much always have oats in our cupboard. We keep a nice big container of them so we don’t run out before we restock. Gluten-free seems to be all the rage nowadays, so oat flour has become a popular commodity. We tend to only make ours (In a food processor) instead of wasting money. If you make yours at the beginning of the week, you’ll have your gluten-free flour already prepared for any baking you do.

Oats are also key in our diets since we love pretty much all kinds of oatmeal. Overnight oatmeal is something we eat during lunchtime at least once a week, and it’s super satisfying and filling. You can dress it up with any fruit you want , or even mix it with yogurt. (Oatmeal Parfait, Yum!) If it’s already prepared you’ll reach for it on the way out the door instead of a piece of toast.

Frozen Fruit

Frozen Fruit is just so so convenient for fruit-lovers. Bye bye washing fruit last minute. Sometimes just knowing that you have to wash and slice a fruit up is enough to deter you from eating it. No shame–we speak from experience. While we wish that we could just slice fruit up and leave it for the whole week, a good amount of fruits brown or become soggy.

If you’re not a fan of frozen fruit though, you can still cut up and store melons, oranges(?), and most mangoes for at least 5-7 days. Frozen fruit is still a lot more convenient for us though since you can easily throw it in any meal and go.

Got a sweet tooth? Frozen fruit can even curb sugar cravings since they taste just like cold sweet treats. But that is kinda what they are after all.

Washed Cut-up Celery

Another veggie?? What kind of snacks–? Yes sister(or brother)! If you’re looking for a quick ready snack, then why not go ahead and eat some of your water for the day. The main thing that’s always thrown us off about celery is that it involves soaking, rinsing, and cutting, and most stalks need to be further cut down for more “snackable” sizes. Couple all that inconvenience with the fact that it’s not the most flavorful veggie out there, and you’ll find yourself never eating it.

Like us just a few months ago. The change? We finally starting preparing and slicing celery up at the beginning of the week and storing it into an airtight bag in the refrigerator. Now we reach towards that bag before we reach for pre-packaged snacks. And the best part is that it’s super hard to overeat celery so you can chomp on however much you need to feel satisfied.

Nut/Seed Butter

Alot of people have a love-hate relationship with nut butters. They’re really tasty(at least in our opinion), hold tons of healthy fats and protein, and are pretty…calorie-dense. No need to fear or avoid nut butters though! They’re actually a go-to spread for us when we want a quick filling meal.

Their macro-nutrients are extremely satiating, and they’re a delicious addition to any meal. Of course, you’ll need to keep your serving size within a reasonable limit, but fortunately if you opt to make your own nut butter, you won’t have to worry about any sugars, hydrogenated oils, or excessive sodium. All the ingredients are in your hands.

While we don’t do this every week since we often keep an all-natural peanut butter container in our cupboard regardless, roasting nuts and blending them to create a nice spread at the beginning of the week is a really smart idea. They fix a lot of sweet-tooth cravings and offer tons of variety. We’ve made almond butter multiple times. Sometimes we literally only use almonds, and other times we’ll add a dash of honey or peanuts to cocktail the taste.

Many consumers are missing out on the amazing creation of seed butters though. This is another commodity that’s easy to make, filling, and a quick way to spruce up a meal. We’ve made sunflower seed butter and hope to make pumpkin seed butter sometime in the future. They’re also both sold at certain grocery stores but likely with a few added ingredients.

Washed Spinach

Yes, notice how we said washed. Keeping a bag of spinach straight from the store in your fridge isn’t snack prepping. You keep it in the dirty bag and feel relunctant to eat it when you want a quick snack. Speaking from experience once again, you need to keep it cleaned and ready to eat.

Early in the week cut open your bag and soak the spinach in baking soda. Dish Soap just doesn’t do the trick. Re bag it in an air-sealed baggy and you’ll have it prepared for any fast addition to a meal or snack. Spinach hardly affects the taste of a savory meal and can add a nice boost of nutrients. Its a super smart way of getting multiple veggie servings a day. Now whenever we can, we scoop a nice amount of spinach into our breakfast dish (omelettes anyone?) And salads? We use spinach over lettuce any day. Seriously try keeping some prepared weekly.

Bananas

Bananas are snacks that prep them selves. We always keep a generous bundle since theyre simple to add to most meals. Plus with peanut butter they make a mighty feeling snack. They’re relatively sweet and can help satisfy a sweet tooth.

Ever heard of “nice cream?” Take a frozen banana, blend that mess up, and you’ll have a creamy treat similar to ice cream. Of course with some toppings and mix-ins too. And smoothies? Yet another meal item that can be banana based. Yogurt is great and all but nothing quite beats the natural nutrients and energizing macros found in fresh fruit.

A lot of health gurus even keep their bananas frozen so that they’re always ready to blend into a cool meal or snack. You can try peeling your bananas at the beginning of the week and sealing them in a ziploc in the freezer until you’re ready to eat them. That way you’ll have nothing holding you back from trying some new meal alternatives. Plus let’s face it– bananas are just about the only fruit other than berries [fun fact: bananas are berries if you didn’t already know] that can be tastefully added into traditionally carb-based meals.

You can cut them up on cereal, mix in or top pancakes with them, slice on top of a piece of toast

Wheat Thins

If there’s anything on this list that seems a tad out of place, it would be wheat thins. Why wheat thins you ask? They’re healthier alternatives to crackers and most chips. You’re able to gt a nice generous serving of approximately 16 crackers for around 130-140 calories. Compared to Savoritz and saltines, that’s a nice trade-off.

They also serve as quick dippers with hummus if you just can’t tolerate any more vegetables. You can put any spread or cheese on them, and they make for tasty relatively filling snacks. They can even make the foundation for your meal depending on what you eat them with.

If you want a crunchy snack other than chips or cookies, than wheat thins can be your best friend.

Raisins

Now, we know raisins have been under fire by some recent health claims due to their high sugar and calorie count while being less satiating than their natural counterpart, grapes. For those reasons, you may choose to skip these miniature snacks. But we love them. They’re ready-to-eat natural snacks that help satisfy a sweet tooth.

They’re packed with fiber, vitamins, and minerals that you can grab on your way out the door. No washing required. Plus they’ve been proven to aid digestion, pump up iron levels, and contribute to stronger bone density.

The best part is the range of versatility you have when consuming raisins. They make for great toppings on yogurt, celery, cereal, or salad, and they’re the perfect mix-ins for oatmeal and baked dishes like muffins or cookies. Let’s face it, grapes just don’t quite make the cut for most of these, so we choose to keep raisins on hand and eaten in moderation.

Shredded Cheese

If you’re vegan, this one obviously does not apply but being dairy consumers ourselves, we love keeping a bag of shredded cheese in the fridge. Mozzarella is our favorite but we really enjoy most types. There are so many options and most make the perfect addition to quick meals.

Shredded cheese servings are relatively big and you can adjust the portion to your liking. That’s the major advantage that comes with the snack being shredded over sliced. Natural, low-fat, low-sodium cheese is high in protein and calcium, while being low in sugar.

You can literally eat it as a snack, or in a dip, soup, sauce, pastry, egg, salad, or topping on pastas. Cottage/ Ricotta cheese is also great since it allows you to have full control over your serving size. Using these thick, liquid-based cheeses makes for great dips for veggies over traditional high calorie dressing or sauce.

Since cheese is high in protein, you’re left feeling fuller and satisfied for longer. And that’s always a perk in our books.

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