Substance for the runner
December 16, 2012 6:23 PM   Subscribe

I need some snack/meal ideas for myself in my very fast paced work environment. Help me take my non-healthy current solutions and make them better!

I recently started a high energy, fast paced job riding in a delivery truck. I'm sprinting at many of the stops, and the stops are constant. Between stops I need to look up information on the fly, which requires both hands. All this work makes me hungry, and lunch breaks are highly desirable to avoid. Besides, I don't really like lunch.

What I do like are snacks. Especially late morning to early afternoon. Which is when work is the craziest. So I need to find snacks I can grab quick and stuff in my mouth while I am riding between stops. I have found those cheesy crackers that come in six packs are handy. Poptarts are decent too. Except for the fact that both are terribly unhealthy. I want healthier, and maybe more substantial, alternatives. I'm thinking of trying jerky. Or cheese sticks would be decent. Maybe nuts/trail mix(Though that would be hard to make sure it doesn't spill everywhere).

Hivemind, do you have any yummy and/or suitable ideas?
posted by Folk to Food & Drink (27 answers total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
Prunes get a bad rap (too many stewed prunes in peoples' school lunches, I think), but they're fast, easy to eat, and I think they're delicious.

Natural peanut butter spread on celery sticks can travel fairly well, and remind me of childhood.
posted by xingcat at 6:30 PM on December 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

Are prepared to do some cooking on the weekends?

Mini quiches, bite sized sausage rolls, homemade breakfast bars.
All healthy and delicious eaten cold.

Do a google search for Kids Lunchbox Ideas too as kids like to eat with their fingers so there are heaps of inspirational recipes and ideas.
posted by Youremyworld at 6:34 PM on December 16, 2012

Hummus and baby carrots and celery. All of which can you buy in little packages if it makes life easier. That with some string cheese and a hard boiled egg or two will be a good proteiny snack to keep you going.
posted by sio42 at 6:34 PM on December 16, 2012 [2 favorites]

They make all-natural applesauce that comes in little squeezy pouches designed for kids, but adults can eat them too. It'd be a way to get some fruit in you.

Granola bars or maybe move up to protein bars designed to be whole meals/meal replacement would be another option. Again, make sure you're getting the good stuff, not the cheap stuff loaded with corn syrup, etc.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 6:37 PM on December 16, 2012

Rice cakes and peanut butter! Or just rice cakes!
posted by Potomac Avenue at 6:38 PM on December 16, 2012

You can make your own granola bars, too. It's not hard at all and you'll like them better if you can put what you like in them. for some starter recipes, but you can add what you want.
posted by angerbot at 6:40 PM on December 16, 2012

The health factor is debatable, but it's at least a step up from those cracker packs: Cliff Bars. They are on sale at Kroger for $1 each often in my city, and they have a great chewy texture.
They have about the same calories as one of those cracker packs, and come in a lot of varieties.

It sounds weird, but I like baby carrots dipped in PB. I ate them while driving a standard coming back from a backpacking trip once, so I can vouch for their portability.

Grapes would be easy to eat on the go, too. I'd add some nuts in there to get some protein, too.

I also really like Muscle Milk Light chocolate protein shakes. They are kinda pricey, around $1.25 each, but they have 100 calories, fill me up quickly, taste pretty good, and have 15 grams of protein.
posted by shortyJBot at 6:41 PM on December 16, 2012

Kids Luchbox Ideas brings up some great ideas. Cool search terms bro. Err... friend?

I totally forgot about hard boiled eggs! I love those things. I would have to peel them beforehand, but those would work wonderfully.

The peanut butter and hummus related ideas sound yummy, but it's (probably) too messy. I have to be able to clear my hands really fast, and sticky residual pb just does not cut it.

Great answers!
posted by Folk at 6:44 PM on December 16, 2012

Peanut butter and sliced banana sandwiches.
Hardboiled eggs (pre-peeled).
Mixed nuts.
Home-made electrolyte drinks. Gotta stay hydrated and salty!
Cold cuts.
Chunks of cheese.

I would opt for finger foods with a high caloric load (and low probability of sending you to the crapper every 15 minutes!), since you are on your feet and on the go.
posted by nacho fries at 6:47 PM on December 16, 2012

I don't know about splilling, but if I were you I'd make my own trail mixes based on crushed walnuts and dried figs (WF has high quality of both of these), plus adding some broken granola bars, both crunchy and chewy, dried coconut, sliced almonds, cranberries, apricots, prunes, papaya, mango, mulberries, blueberries.
posted by rainy at 6:50 PM on December 16, 2012

Smoked or baked tofu cut into reasonable-sized chunks.

Portions of this cheese and spinach crustless quiche. When it's cool or room temperature, it's pretty dry.
posted by punchtothehead at 6:50 PM on December 16, 2012

For extra yummy boiled eggs: Shoyu tamago
posted by crush-onastick at 6:54 PM on December 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

In the vein of prunes, I love dried fruit -- mangoes, pineapple, cherries, cranberries... just about anything you like fresh. Just make sure to not eat too much as it will act as a laxative (I ate about a pound of dried pineapple over the course of a day and a half or so and paid for it later...) and is sugary. That said, its a great healthier sweet treat that isn't messy if you find yourself missing the sweet factor from weaning yourself from the Poptarts.

I also recently took some semisweet chocolate chips and peanuts together in a baggie on an airplane with me and enjoyed that. Probably not ideal if it's hot where you are though.
posted by jorlyfish at 7:21 PM on December 16, 2012

Why would trail mix spill? I decant some into little sandwich bags and the little bag lives in the cup-holder, which helps keep it pretty upright. You just dip in when you can. You can add some small bits of jerky into the bag, too.

Finally, keep some wet-wipes in the vehicle with you to clean hands as required, so even the peanut butter would not be an issue. You've just got to learn to take that extra 2 seconds.
posted by koahiatamadl at 7:53 PM on December 16, 2012

just trust me on the whole peanut butter thing. You don't know how much it pains me to be separated from my best friend P Butter.
posted by Folk at 8:35 PM on December 16, 2012

I buy fruit and nut trail mix in little pouches similar to this. They're narrow enough to fit in your hand and/or a cup holder so it doesn't spill, and you can just pour the trail mix directly into your mouth which keeps your hands clean. It looks like this brand has a lot of different types of mixes.
posted by apricot at 8:43 PM on December 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

Cheap, portable, very filling: make a big batch of hummus (any recipe, starting with dried chickpeas is even cheaper), as garlicky or spicy or herby as you like. The key is to make it pretty thick by either adding more tahini/reserving olive oil-- should be thicker than peanut butter. Spread very liberally on a corn tortilla (toasted on a gas flame is even better), fold in half. Or in a split pita. I've tucked a few of these into a coat pocket before (don't judge) and it's the neatest little handy package of protein/fat/carbs. It's about the size of a poptart!
posted by ilk at 8:48 PM on December 16, 2012

Mini Babybel cheese rounds are cheapest at Costco and Trader Joe's.
posted by bq at 8:56 PM on December 16, 2012 [2 favorites]

Trader Joe's has yummy turkey jerky.
posted by Sal and Richard at 9:56 PM on December 16, 2012

Not fancy, but I eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich every workday morning on really substantial whole wheat bread. Cut in quarters. No PB on my hands, can grab a quarter when you're hungry.

Yeah, anything you can stuff in a pita-they really keep food contained.

And maybe pick up some of the toddler snack containers with iris-valve type openings-designed to keep things from spilling.
posted by purenitrous at 10:10 PM on December 16, 2012

Grab one of these on-the-go unhealthy snack containers that are made to fit in a vehicle cupholder (or find a container that will do so) and eat the contents. Then refill it with one or more of the following handy snacks:

-NUTS. Yum, flavored nuts are great for energy, not messy. Can be a little caloric, so limit your intake to 1-2 servings per day.

-Jerky! Jerky is great. If you have access to Costco, they make a cheap, high-quality beef jerky. If you want, treat yourself to some fancy small-batch jerky from online, like House of Jerky.

-Freeze-dried fruit (replacement for sticky/hard to eat fruits)

-Self-contained fruit, like hulled strawberries, raspberries, etc

-Dried fruit

-Mozzarella sticks keep pretty well for a few hours and are delicious

-Make your own trail mix: buy nuts, dried fruit, snacky things like mini whole grain crackers or wasabi peas or something, mix together, portion out.
posted by rachaelfaith at 5:13 AM on December 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

Smoothies! Get a small chill-pack to keep them in. In similar situations lately, I've been drinking smoothies made out of kefir, which is like liquid yogurt. You can get any size bottle and drink it as is out of the bottle. Or you can decant it, or remove some of the liquid from the original bottle, and add protein powder, applesauce, flavorings or anything else you add to a smoothie. No blender or anything necessary unless you want to get fancy.
posted by BibiRose at 6:12 AM on December 17, 2012

Wrap some lunchmeat around small gherkins or a stick of string cheese!
posted by fancyoats at 6:58 AM on December 17, 2012

Here are two of my faves, and healthy although not cheap (I don't do grain):

Steve's PaleoKrunch bars (high-protein and no refined sugar, but delicious!)
Black-pepper jerky (various meats) from House of Jerky -- just so much more delicious than the oversalty, dehydrating sticks you get at grocery stores...

Also, don't forget simple things like dried apples and other dried fruits -- easy to snack on, carry around, and no mess!
posted by acm at 7:17 AM on December 17, 2012

I'm thinking that some of your choices might be limited based on packaging, so let's look at that: If you want to bring nuts and dried fruit (snack mix) but you don't want to get your hands dirty, what if you find some very small tupperware tins that hold an ounce or two. Think of the dishes that they give you if you ask for extra salad dressing at a take-out place. I got some at the dollar store in a package of 4 which are reusable; maybe you go to a restaurant supply store and you get 1000 of those actual salad dressing cups and just throw them away every time. Either way, fill up several of them with a scoop of trail mix to bring with you, then when you are ready for a snack open one and pour directly into your mouth. No mess on your hands, no dropping nuts all over the car. Leave the others in their containers until you need another snack.

These containers can be used for other things, too, maybe even things that are a little messier - a scoop of hummus with 2 baby carrots diced into it - one big spoonful right into your mouth. If you put peanut butter into a stalk of celery, then chop it into small lengths, you could put 2-3 chunks into one container and eat in one bite. Same with crackers spread with peanut butter - break into small chunks and pack 2-3 per container - or if one cracker fits into the container, that's your single serving. Etc. Anything that you can tip your head back and throw into your mouth for one serving would work.

Similar for making your own granola bars. Find a recipe that binds together really well (rather than the crumbly kind) and bake them in small muffin tins to make single serving. Wrap each one separately in plastic or foil wrap (or a snack-size ziploc bag) and put it directly into your mouth without getting it on your hands or dropping crumbs on the floor. Muffin tins are also good for making those mini quiche egg cups or carrot muffins, banana muffins, etc. Make them one-bite size and eliminate mess.
posted by CathyG at 7:50 AM on December 17, 2012 [2 favorites]

Okay - one last peanut butter idea. I take these peanut butter packets on training runs. I rip off a corner of the packet and fire the peanut butter into my mouth. (If it's a cold day I put the packet in my bra for a few minutes to get it warm and mushy.) It's full of protein and fat so it will sustain you for awhile. Plus, yum.

It's no mess peanut butter for the on the run peanut butter lover. I totally get the mess factor of peanut butter, but I find these packets to work well for me.
posted by 26.2 at 12:21 PM on December 17, 2012

Okay. Time to get off the junk food my friend. Pop tarts (oh dear). Here are some easy-peasy lemon-squeezy ideas:
Pick one day on the weekend and prep these for the week:

Hard boiled eggs (make 1/2 dozen) and get a small baggy of seasonings (salt-pepper or lemon pepper, etc); then take the shell off and shake the egg in the baggie--YUMMY

Buy one sourdough or fancy bread BAGUETTE, spinach (holds up better than other lettuce), pesto or olive spread (something flavorful), a few different types of meats, and cheese.
You are going to make the whole baguette in one day (so vary the meats, etc), ADD some olive oil and salt, and pepper. CUT Up and place in tin foil. You have yummy snacks for the entire week (with different meats, etc). The olive oil and pesto spread are not only yummy but hold up better than mayo.

Turkey jerky (higher quality) or salmon jerky is also a quick and easy snack. You can also make your own gorp: various nuts, chocolate chips or peanut butter chips, etc. Again make a bunch and put them in baggies ready to go. I used to do this for my kids--the bottom drawer was chuck filled with pre-bagged snacks that were somewhat healthy!!
posted by MissSky at 12:24 PM on December 17, 2012

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