Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Cheap and Healthy at Work

My office is often stuffing the counters of our shared kitchen with numerous baked goods. These aren’t just any treats. They usually look and smell so good that I avoid the kitchen like the plague. It’s almost impossible to walk past the counter to get to the water cooler without yearning for just one bite. I know me. Once I start it is hard to stop. I bet you can relate.

I have scoured the net for hours trying to find the best way to keep myself on track while at work, without eating away at my budget. Here are some tips that I use.

  • Reduced calorie packs. Buying "100 calorie" packs can become expensive for the small amounts you end up with. Save money and get more bang for that buck. Make your own!! I buy baggies at the dollar store. It’s hard to find them that cheap anywhere else! And then take time and portion out servings of Reduced fat Cheez-its (one of my favs) and other snacks I like into them. (I buy these items when they are on sale- of course.) Seal ‘em and pop those baggies back into the box. There you go. You just made your very own reduced calorie snack packs. You walk away with more packs than what you’d get in those 100 calorie pack boxes and spent much less.

  • Baby carrots. The ultimate take along snack. I have these on hand at all times. Better than potato chips, but you still get that satisfying crunch. If you don’t like them plain, use a small Tupperware container for dip/dressing. Try these recipes from Kayln’s Kitchen. Grandma's Vegetable Dip, World's Best Tzatziki Sauce, and Diet Friendly Ranch Style Dip. If you really miss those chips, fool yourself by using a food processor or mandolin to cut carrots diagionally into chip shaped slices!

  • Apples with nut butter. Apples are almost always cheap and I buy my peanut butter on sale- the BIG containers. I am not picky about my apples, so I go with whatever is on sale. The crisp sweetness of the apple paired with the good-for-you smooth, creamy nut butter is an unbeatable combo. I had never had this as a child and have to thank my friend Judith for introducing me to this filling snack. The amount of fiber in one of those little guys takes my sweet, fruit-loving guilt away.

  • Cheerios. They aren’t just for toddlers. These things make some of the best little snacks around. They are puffed, giving the illusion of more food. It’s a visual trick for the brain. Plus, they come in so many heart healthy flavors. I am really digging the Cinnamon Burst. Get boxes while they are on sale. My local grocery often has 6/$10 with extras (such as a free gallon of milk.) Plus, cereal coupons come along often in my circulars. Side note- Try mixing them into your own trail mix. Add raw almonds (Target has great deals on their store brand almonds), dark chocolate chips (I have also used chocolate yogurt covered raisins from ALDI) and craisins. It’s a sweet and healthy treat.

  • Reduced Fat Cheese Sticks. I swear by these little things. They are small yet pack a huge protein punch. The low-fat dairy fills me up and keeps me going through the afternoon. I am partial to Sargento and the Aldi brand Fit & Active.

  • Clementine Oranges. In my neighborhood, the Cutie oranges have bene on sale for god knows how long. They make a great snack, are easy to peel and store easily in your desk drawer.

  • Water. I know this sounds crazy, but often I find that I am much more thirsty than I am actually hungry. Sometimes thirst can mask itself as hunger. I keep water readily available on my desk throughout the day. I used to get hungry at certain times of the day. Just taking a sip every few minutes has kept most of those cravings away and saved me tons of calories!

They’re simple, but it works for me. If you have other tips you use- share!

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