Is your energy for cooking dinner in short supply?  The snack-meal approach is a perfect solution for practically any meal in your day.

The 3-square-meals a day eating pattern may no longer fit your lifestyle or energy level.  The snack-meal offers convenience, thrift, variety, minimal food waste and portion control.  Have you noticed the 4-compartment grab-and-go snack packs in the market?

The secret is to pair your snacks considering flavor, nutrient-rich foods, and balance. Bento tins or food storage containers with compartments are perfect for portion control and on-the-go snack-meals.

For flavor, think sweet + savory, strong + mild flavors or sweet + salty.  Classic flavor pairings: apple + cinnamon, tomato + basil, chocolate + peanut butter, sour cream + onion or trail mixes.

For nutrition and balance, the perfect snack-meal includes sources of protein, a better-for-you fat, a complex carb, fruit, veggies and a fun treat.  Think about seasoned or different flavored options (e.g. lemon hummus) or a sprinkle of favorite seasoning, fresh herbs or balsamic vinegar.

Snack-Meal component ideas:

  • Protein sources: hard-cooked egg, cheese, nuts, nut butters, rinsed canned beans, hummus, dairy or soy yogurt, ham, turkey, tuna, salmon, yogurt-based dip
  • Good-for-you fats: avocado, nuts, hummus, olives, nut butters, seeds
  • Complex carbs: whole grain crackers (Wheat Thins, Triscuits), no-milk whole grain cereal (Cheerios, frosted mini wheat, oatmeal squares), granola bar, whole grain chips, popcorn
  • Veggies: raw crunchy veggies, corn-off-cob, pickled vegetables, 3-bean salad
  • Fruits: any fresh fruit, dried fruit, canned pineapple chunks, canned mandarin oranges
  • Fun treat: chocolate covered almonds or walnuts, oatmeal cookie, square of fine chocolate

Bon Appetit!

About Mary Lynne Hixson, MA, RD:

Mary Lynne, a registered dietitian, helps others enhance their health through the advocacy of nutrient-rich food choices and safe food-handling practices. Her expertise also includes counseling patients who have Type 2 diabetes and advising those who are in medically-managed weight loss programs. After her 35+ year career, she retired and became involved with the launch of Harvest of Hope Pantry in 2012 as a Board of Directors member. Mary Lynne is a weekly volunteer with Cultivate’s Carry-Out Caravan program, shopping and delivering groceries to seniors in the Boulder area, and also a frequent volunteer with Harvest of Hope.