Having worked in the corporate environment for more than 5 years, there is certain insider information I can give you:
- The work sucks your mental energy.
- You end up becoming crazily lazy, so much so that it is exceptionally hard for you to commit to any fitness routine.
- You are unexpectedly hungry, especially at around 4:30PM every evening.
On some occasions, I was able to take care of myself well, when I packed a fruit for myself for the evening, but for the majority of the 5 year span, I relied on the office cafeteria and the nukkad chaiwala for a helping of Maggi or some equivalent junk for the evening hunger pangs.
Today, I want to help all my readers who would like to know certain options that can be packed into boxes and kept in the office drawers or thrown into the lunch bag in a jiffy for taking care of the evil evening hunger. Yes, these would be pocket friendly and not over-the-top expensive items (I know very well, the cafeteria bills pile up into a significant number at the end of the month, hence here to the rescue). Here are some healthy budget snacking options for all of you.
A packet of instant oats can be made readily in the office microwave (I am truly sorry if your office doesn’t have a microwave, what a truly shitty place that must be to work!). All you need is a large microwave safe ceramic mug and any of the easily available packets of instant oats. I however, would not recommend that you make this an everyday habit, because I clearly remember, when I used to have instant oats every single day in the evening for a few weeks, one fine evening, I grew so fed up of instant oats that I did not muster up the courage to buy another packet for almost a year! The texture of oats can get boring after a point of time, hence, rotate these with other options on the list. With new flavour launches, such as Italian and Curry, apart from the regular Vegetable and Tomato, you have several options to try!
What you can easily do is, pack a handful of almonds, cashew, pistachio, walnuts, and pine nuts into small containers and store in the office drawers. A fistful of a mix of these nuts is filling and also provides you an energy boost, apart from providing you with good quality fats. Do be mindful of locking your drawers at the end of the day, though!
While we do have Act II microwave popcorn, and you can make some once in a while, however, it has too much salt and hydrogenated vegetable oil, both of which aren’t too great for your health over time. You could, however, roast some dry popcorn kernel in a cooker at home the previous night, and fill them up in a paper or plastic bag to carry with you to office. It is not extremely filling, but with coffee, it does help. In any case, it is a healthy budget snacking option. You can skip the salt to make it even healthier.
Foxnut, locally known as makhana in India, is being rediscovered as a healthy snacking option. I have seen several brands of roasted foxnuts in tonnes of flavours, ranging from peri peri to mint and cheese! However, all you need to do is, buy some makhana from the local grocery shop, pop it into the microwave for a bit, remove and let it rest in open air. This crunches up the makhana and makes it several times tastier. You can carry it to your office in paper bags and store it in the drawer. However, I really doubt you will have any leftovers!
- Boiled Potato/Chickpea Salad
Boiled potato is a common entity in the refrigerator. What you can easily do is, chop up the cold boiled potato, add in some fresh cut veggies (even an onion/tomato/garlic/coriander/peppers, in any combination you like) and pack into a container. Keep a cut lemon wedge too, and squeeze on some before you eat this. The best way is to put this whole thing in the refrigerator. You can replace potato with boiled chickpea.
- Peanut Butter
The great thing with peanut butter is that it doesn’t spoil at room temperature. You can conveniently store a small jar of peanut butter (I personally love the crunchy one, with bits of peanut) in the office drawer. You could easily combine it with crackers, or can have a couple of spoonfuls of the butter on its own, or even eat it with slices of apples. It is quite filling and a powerhouse packed with protein.
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Bananas are special. They are a complete meal on their own, being rich in vitamins, carbs and yes, potassium. They help kill the sweet cravings that we often have, and fill you up in a nice sort of way, unlike any other fruit. A couple of bananas down, and you will be satiated for a while. And no, they will not lead to weight gain. This is merely a common pop culture myth around this fruit. It is one of the best healthy budget snacking options ever.
- Raisins and Other Dried Fruit
Throw some raisin, dried apricot and dried cranberry in your desk for a post-meal sugar craving solution. Some dried fruit towards the evening accompanied with some nuts can fix you well for a couple of hours. Dried fruit is packed with minerals and loads of energy.
Chewing on something like carrots will give you something to do at your desk. All you need to do is peel a couple of carrots and wrap them in aluminium foil for the evening. You could pair it with peanut butter. The crunchiness and chewy fibrous texture of carrots is quite refreshing when you are all lethargic in the evening.
- Cottage Cheese Cubes with Condiments
The humble Indian cottage cheese or paneer is not only great in gravies and parathas, but it is delicious on its own too. Cold refrigerated paneer with ground black pepper or roasted cumin powder is a power food, providing you loads of protein and is super filling as well. Just remember to always refrigerate paneer, or it may turn sour, especially in summers.
I hope you find this list of healthy budget snacking options helpful to some extent! It is always a better and more economical option to carry tempting snacks in our own bags, rather than buying some from a counter every single day! I have been a culprit for soooo long. But it is never too late to start, right?