Times have changed, and while there is no extra minute in the day to make three wholesome meals from start to finish, there should be little reason to save money by going through fast food drive-thru.

Can convenience be healthy? Sure, but not in the way we are used to.

Resist zipping over to the golden arches between classes or dropping a wad at the gourmet farm-to-plate cafe walking distance from your job. Instead, stock your work fridge, trunk cooler, and day bag with these naturally gluten-free and ready-to-eat foods purchased from your local health food store. If you are needing a snack, a meal, or an energizing beverage, these ideas will satiate your hunger, and save your health and money. All you need is a fork, knife, and a spoon (and a couple napkins).

 

1. These inexpensive protein packed balls contain a good amount of nourishing fat for your hardworking brain. Cage-free, already hard boiled eggs can be found at Trader Joe’s or other health food stores, or can be easily made at home. Eat them with hot sauce or add slices to a salad.

2. Not all pickles are created equal. Bubbies Pure Kosher Dills are swimming in probiotic brine which means every crispy bite is supporting good digestion. These babies are a low-carb finger-licking-good snack.

3. One ounce of savory jerky has about eleven grams of protein, which is equivalent to a small hamburger patty. While good quality grass-fed beef jerky can be found at farmers markets, gluten-free beef jerky can be purchased from Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s.

4. With about fifty brands of protein bars staring back at you in the snack aisle, one brand stands above the rest. Larabars simply contain dates, dried fruits, and nuts, which means no soy, corn syrup, gluten, or added sugar (there’s cane sugar in the ones with chocolate). Enjoy a bar for sweet treat or before you hit the gym.

5. Full-fat cheddar cheese sticks are an excellent source of energy. For a sweet and savory snack, alternate taking bites of cheese with a juicy pear or grapes, or round-out a salad with cheese chunks.

6. The nuts and dried fruit combo has become the ultimate snack–keep an eye out for organic nuts and sugar/sulfer-free dried fruit. A mix of coconut flakes, almond slices, dark chocolate chunks, and dried apricots make a tasty meal between meals. Tired of almonds? Try omega-3 fatty acid packed macadamia nuts or pecan pie bites: halved dates, seeded, and stuffed with pecans.

7. While you’re out to lunch, imagine being out to sea with a can of tuna, or a personal favorite, Kipper Snacks. With lots of vitamin A and D, the unfishy smoked herring can be eaten straight out of the can or mixed with olive oil, lemon, and chives. Use cucumber slices or endive spears as scoops.

8. Salted avocado halves are easily devoured with a spoon. Or, try Terra’s Sweets and Beets chips, baby carrots, baby cucumbers, and cherry tomatoes dipped in homemade guacamole (avocado mashed with organic jarred salsa).

9. Take a break with a pack of Justin’s Nut Butter and an apple or banana for an energy punch. A couple of clementines, a handful of cherries, or some frozen blueberries are also nutritious snack-worthy options.

10. While it is tempting to get out and drive to the local coffee shop for a midday cup, take a walk, find a park bench, and savor a bottle of kombucha, mineral, or coconut water on a bench. Stash some organic Numi tea bags in your desk or purse pocket and just add hot water for a ridiculously cheap steamy brew.

11. If you are craving your mom’s Sunday roast chicken, you aren’t out of luck. Pick up one of those rotisserie chickens at the grocery store (Whole Foods has them) and pair with a microwaved sweet potato. Better yet, wrap-up shredded chicken and guacamole in lettuce leaves for a quick and easy bite.

 

Photo Credit: http://shechive.files.wordpress.com/2011/09/avocado-meal-40.jpg