5-Minute Snacks: Healthy Options for Busy Schedules

5-Minute Snacks: Healthy Options for Busy Schedules

Snacking tends to get a bad rap, but it’s not inherently unhealthy. Done right, snacking can be a great way to curb hunger — and bingeing — and keep energy levels steady. (And if you lead a busy, on-the-go lifestyle that makes sit-down meals challenging, snacks — especially 5-minute snacks! — can play an important role. )

In my own life, I tend to satisfy my snacking needs with a piece of fruit and some mixed nuts — super easy to pack, no weekly planning required.

But if you want a little more variety, I’ve got you covered. In this post, I provide a list of some healthy foods that you can mix and match for snacking, followed by some specific ideas for balanced, 5-minute snack options.

A few notes before we begin:

  • This is a general guide; adjust as needed to suit your needs, goals, and lifestyle.
  • I focus on plant-based meals. If you need some high quality animal protein to feel your best, adjust as needed.

The Formula

As with any healthy meal, a healthy snack should comprise whole (i.e., unprocessed) foods, and ideally a fruit or vegetable. Follow the formula below to craft your own healthy snack, or skip ahead to my healthy snack ideas and recipes!

Step 1: Pick a fruit or veggie

  • Fresh fruit: apples, pears, grapes, chopped melon, oranges, berries, etc.
  • Dried fruit: prunes, dates, raisins, dried cherries, dried mango
    • Tip: Opt for varieties with no added ingredients, and keep portions in check — a typical serving is 1/4c, which is about the size of a large egg.
  • Fresh veggies: carrots, celery, sliced bell peppers, broccoli, cauliflower
  • Baked or dehydrated vegetables (i.e., veggie chips): kale, beets, zucchini, carrots, sweet potatoes

Step 2: Choose one or more of the following…

  • Legumes: bean crunchies (chickpea crunchies are the most common), hummus
  • Nuts and seeds: almonds, cashews, pepitas, sunflower seeds, walnuts, peanuts
    • Tip: Raw or dry roasted nuts and seeds are both great, as are nut and seed butters. Whatever you choose, opt for varieties with no added ingredients (a little bit of salt is okay).
  • Whole grains (get plain varieties with minimal ingredients):
    • Rice cakes
    • Shredded wheat
    • Organic popcorn
      • Tip: Stay away from store bought microwaveable popcorn bags, which release a carcinogenic substance when heated.
    • Whole grain bread
      • Tip: Look for 100% whole grain bread with minimal ingredient lists (e.g., 100% whole grain flour, salt, and yeast).
    • Puffed grains (e.g., puffed rice, puffed kamut)
  • Other:
    • Dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa)

Tip: I recommend including some source of healthy fat (from dark chocolate, nuts, or seeds) to aid absorption of fat-soluble vitamins.

Super Speedy: < 5-Minute Snacks

  • Rice cake with nut butter and apple slices
  • Hummus with red bell pepper and whole wheat pita
  • Trail mix with walnuts, almonds, raisins, and puffed kamut
  • Seasonal fruit with almonds or a square of dark chocolate
  • Banana with nut butter
  • Carrots and celery sticks with nut butter
  • Crunchy chickpeas with fresh citrus fruit (juicy citrus helps balance the saltiness of the chickpeas!)
  • Popcorn with drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of garlic powder, onion power, paprika, and nutritional yeast; balanced with your favorite fresh fruit

Pre-Made: Healthy Snack Foods To Buy

There are lots of healthy, pre-made snacks out there, but here are some of my favorites:

  • Brad’s Crunchy Kale
    • Naked, Original, Margherita, and “ Cheeze It Up” are my favorite flavors
  • Bare veggie chips
  • Larabars
    • A few flavors (mostly the chocolate ones) have refined sugar, but most other flavors are made from only whole food ingredients
  • Lundberg Family Farms rice cakes
    • Brown Rice Cake Lightly Salted, Brown Rice Cake Salt Free, Wild Rice Cake, Red Rice & Quinoa Thin Stackers, 5 Grain Thin Stackers
  • Arrowheat Mills Puffed Kamut, Puffed Rice
  • Biena Chickpea Snacks (plain / sea salt)
  • Berlin Bakery Spelt Sourdough
  • Alvarado Street Bakery Sprouted Whole Wheat Bread
  • Cedar’s Original Hummus

Recipes (if you have a little more time)

If you’re willing to step out of the 5-minute snack realm, consider the following recipes. Keep in mind, though, that while these take more than 5 minutes to prepare from start to finish, the amount of active prep time is still minimal. Additionally, since these recipes make several servings of snacks, the time-per-serving ratio can still meet the 5-minute snack criteria.

In any case, here are some of my favorites snack recipes. Enjoy!

Final Notes

Some people genuinely do better without any snacking; they feel best and can more easily sustain healthy eating habits with just three (or fewer) meals per day.

But if you’re anything like me, snacking is an important part of your diet, and thus it’s critical to have an archive of 5-minute snack ideas that are healthy and accessible.

Happy snacking!