Long gone are the days when a quick snack in the office breakroom meant grabbing chips, candy or another unhealthy treat. People are more mindful of healthy eating — or they’re trying to be, anyway — and that includes the items they grab from the office breakroom.
Everybody still wants something tasty, and they want variety in their midday snacks. But you also need something that’s easy to stock and won’t spoil quickly. Luckily, these ideas may fit the bill — here are some healthy options that you might want to emphasize the next time you order food for your breakroom.
Popcorn is a whole-grain food that is high in a variety of vitamins and nutrients, including iron, vitamin B3, magnesium and zinc. It also has high fiber content, is a zero-cholesterol snack and doesn’t impact blood sugar levels. Of course, loading it down with butter and salt can negate any health benefits from popcorn, so go for light butter or homestyle popcorn for your colleagues. You can also have plain kernels and paper bags on hand for team members to quickly air-pop popcorn in the microwave.
Nuts are packed with a variety of vitamins and nutrients. To start, almonds are known to lower bad cholesterol and contain a significant dose of monounsaturated fat — the good kind of fat, in other words. Walnuts are another option that pack a nutritional punch. They contain omega-3 fats, can help with heart health and have plenty of antioxidants. Pistachios are loaded with protein and fiber, and are on the lower end of calorie count, which can help keep weight in check.
Nut butters — such as almond, cashew and sunflower — are another option. While some are high in fat, they are typically low in sugar and other additives. They provide a filling, protein-rich snack to spread on apples or crackers. Just be sure to learn of any severe nut allergies among your coworkers before stocking up, as some people are sensitive to even airborne particles from nuts.
Packaged snack bars aren’t always what they claim to be — some tout their healthy ingredients, but are loaded with sugar and unhealthy fats. While there is no one perfect bar to keep stocked in the breakroom, keep an eye on certain nutritional components to make the best choice.
For example, aim for snack bars that are around 200 calories or less. Also, look for a fiber content of more than 3 grams and protein content upwards of 5 grams per serving. Avoid bars that are high in saturated fats and have more than 10 grams of sugar per serving. You can also ask your team members for snack bar suggestions. Your best bet may to be have several types on hand based on what you learn from your colleagues and your research.
Jerky is a protein powerhouse, helping you stay full longer and managing energy spikes and lulls. Just 3.5 ounces of beef jerky provides over 30 grams of protein. It also contains a variety of minerals, like iron, potassium and calcium, as well as several vitamins, including B6 and B12. Turkey jerky can provide similar nutritional benefits and typically contains less sodium.
For vegan or vegetarian co-workers, there are a variety of meat-free jerky choices, including eggplant, mushroom and soy. The rise of artisanal jerky has introduced a plethora of new flavors, so stock a few to see which ones your team members enjoy most.
Added sugar can derail any healthy eating plan, but thankfully there is dark chocolate to satisfy your sweet tooth. While this treat still contains sugar, it’s about half the amount that milk chocolate has. Dark chocolate also has antioxidants and essential minerals. To keep it on the healthy end, aim for dark chocolate that has 60 percent or higher cacao content.
Loaded with calories but no nutritional value, sugary drinks can be one of the quickest ways to push a diet off track. But plain, still water as the only office beverage choice may leave some team members bored.
Low- or no-calorie flavored and sparkling waters can make drink options more appealing. Consider rotating flavors to keep things interesting. Coconut water is another choice with a variety of flavors — it contains potassium and electrolytes, and is naturally fat-free. Green tea has vitamin C and folic acid, while black tea has iron and magnesium — and both are rich in antioxidants. If colleagues want a refreshing beverage without the sugar overload, have sliced fruit and ice on hand for them to add to these drinks.
Some snacks in your breakroom need to have a long shelf life, but adding fresh foods into the mix can take your breakroom’s healthy factor up a notch. Yogurt, fruit, cheese, veggies and soy or almond milk provide substantial healthy choices.
To manage the purchasing of time-sensitive items, use a grocery delivery service that can bring you what you need. Most services let you log on, select the items you want and set up a delivery time.
Make sure you are taking all food allergies and preferences into account. Create a poll and email it to your team to find out what options they’d prefer. This helps ensure you keep the breakroom stocked with the right food items and that your co-workers can stay on the healthy track.