Tired of Meal Planning? 4 Tips for Healthy Snacking

The start of a new year leads many people down the path to healthier goals. You kick things off full throttle with lots of plans when the calendar turns. And for the first few weeks or months, it can be easy to stick to. As time passes after January 1, it can be a challenge holding on to your new goals with gusto.

One popular tip for trying to eat better (and save money from eating out) is meal planning. This can be a great way to plan out shopping trips for less food waste. It also whittles down your grocery bill. It can also help you find healthier ways to prepare and pre-portion your meals. If you’ve tried it, you likely have seen great results in these areas too. 

After doing the meal prepping thing for a while, it is understandable to get a little fatigued. Don’t completely throw in the towel though. You might find yourself back to your old habits and ordering takeout. That can be pricey for your wallet and your health goals. If you’re tired of meal planning, check out these easy tips for healthy snacking.

1. Add, Don’t Sacrifice

Sometimes when you think about being healthier, cutting out everything “bad” seems like a natural choice. However, you don’t have to sacrifice your favorites — especially if you work on portions and moderation. You can make some of your guilty pleasures healthier with a few additions. One example is adding green drink powder to some of your favorite snacks and foods. You can mix a little into your guacamole, dips, drinks, or even soup for example.

If you like smoothies, add a little of the greens powder to that. You could even find a protein powder you like to add to your smoothie. Don’t just stick to fruit either; slip in some spinach for more vitamins. If you need more fiber in your diet, mix in some Benefiber as well. You won’t notice much of a difference taste-wise, but these changes will make the nutritional content soar! 

2. Make Substitutions

Substitutions are a great way to enjoy your snacks, save on calories, and up the health benefits. Swapping sour cream for greek yogurt in dips can save on fat and calories and increase protein. Switching from only eating creamy dips to tomato or corn and bean salsa changes the macros of your snacks also. Tomato salsas are super low in calories and are a great source of vitamins from the tomatoes. Corn and bean salsas add a different nutrient and protein profile as well.

What you eat with your dips can make a large impact too. You can switch to corn chips for example. Or swap chips or pita breads for vegetables. Carrots, celery, broccoli, and red and green peppers are great for dipping and have a fabulous crunch. They are good with a white veggie dip or humus as well as with salsas too. 

3. Keep Easy Snacks on Hand

In the same vein as meal planning and prepping, having foods easily accessible is a large factor in being successful. The easier it is to eat at home can make a huge difference between enjoying a healthy option or ordering pizza. Buying fruits and veggies and cutting them up and putting them in individual serving size containers can be a great step.  However, if you’re tired of meal planning, that might sound like too much prep. 

Instead, get some snacks to have for your peckish times that require no maintenance from you. Greek yogurt cups are excellent at filling you up because of their low sugar and high protein. Applesauce is a quick, easy, shelf-stable option that lets you get some fruit in. Grapes, bananas, berries, and oranges are pretty low maintenance fruits as well. String cheese sticks and nuts are quick on the go too.

4. Plan Portions and Calories

Snacking and following your hunger cues can be great for your healthier lifestyle. Having a sensible snack can add good vitamins and nutrients into your day. Doing this also can help regulate blood sugar hills and valleys. However, you must be mindful of your snacking. Different types of healthy food pack a punch if you don’t focus on portions.

When setting up your snack area in the pantry and fridge, look up the snack’s serving sizes and calories. You can even make a cheat sheet on the back of the pantry door until you have it memorized. Nuts and avocado, for example, are a great snack and source of healthy fats. But they are high in calories if you don’t pay attention to the serving size. When planning out portions and calories, you can pair low calorie foods with higher ones for a balanced snack.

For example, you could pair a handful of baby carrots (low in calories) with a tablespoon of hummus (higher in calories) for a balanced snack. Similarly, you could have a small apple (low in calories) with a tablespoon of almond butter (higher in calories) or a few whole grain crackers (low in calories) with a slice of cheese (higher in calories). The key is to combine foods that complement each other in terms of taste and texture while also providing a mix of nutrients to keep you satisfied and energized.

Snack Well

Adding in healthy snack options can complement your meal planning experience. As your hunger spikes and you just want some easy food without cooking, a snack can sustain you. It can quiet your roaring stomach and help you stay on track and cook at home. Sometimes great snacks can even just replace dinner. It’s like a round of appetizers at your own home.

After all, charcuterie boards are all the rage these days. No ideas for dinner? Make a fancy spread of your balanced snacks.