19 Aug 2021
When we’re working in an office it’s all too easy to pop out for a quick coffee (maybe a croissant as well), or grab a pre-packaged sandwich to eat ‘al desko’ during a packed lunch hour.
And yet all of us know that we’d be much better off taking in our own meals and snacks.
Before the pandemic, the average office worker spent a stomach-churning £1,580 per year on lunch. That’s around £6 a day, going up to £15 for Londoners!(1)
As if we needed context, that amount would cover a week for two in a luxury hotel in the Maldives.
Bet that sad sandwich isn’t looking so appealing now. But even disregarding price for a moment, we also know that pre-packaged and processed foods aren’t particularly good for our health.
Many are laden with hidden fat, calories and fillers, not to mention chemical ingredients that indicate the food is ultra-processed. Trans fats and ‘Mono- and Di-Acetyl Tartaric Acid Esters of Mono- and Di-Glycerides of Fatty Acids’ in your cheese and onion, anyone?
Not only will packing your own lunch and snacks save you a bucket-load of money, you have complete control over what you’re eating. As a result, you can make healthier choices.
Plus, it’s unlikely that you’ll have any ‘Mono- and Di-Acetyl Tartaric Acid Esters of Mono- and Di-Glycerides of Fatty Acids’ lying around the kitchen to throw into your meals.
The main reason many of us don’t make a packed lunch or our own healthy snacks for work is time. And it’s true, taking your own food in does require a bit of organisation. However, there are plenty of easy hacks you can use to get around that.
By putting a bit of time in at home, making the most of leftovers and stocking up on some convenient healthy essentials, you’ll be lunchboxing like a pro in no time.
Without further ado, here are our top healthy snacks for work (or school). For each, we’ve also included some easy ways to save time so you can spend more time relaxing and less time prepping.
Five minutes spent wisely in the evening will provide you with a good few portions of delicious, homemade hummus for your lunchbox.
It is extremely easy to make. Simply tip a tin of chickpeas, 3 tbsp good quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil, a squeeze of lemon juice and a tablespoon of tahini into a blender and whizz away. For an extra smooth consistency, drizzle in a little ice cold water near the end of your blending time.
If you want to take it up a notch, try adding a crushed garlic clove or a sprinkling of cumin. Or, go the whole hog and make our tasty artichoke hummus recipe.
Then simply chop carrots, cucumber and peppers into sticks for dipping at your desk.
Save time: Tempted to get supermarket hummus? Check the label first. If you see any ingredients you wouldn’t have in your own kitchen, move on. Good quality organic hummus which does not contain these ingredients can be bought from health food shops.
Can’t be bothered to chop veggies every night? Neither can we. Chop up a few portions in one go and keep them in the fridge until needed. The best way is to store them in bags; for carrots and peppers, add a moist paper towel in with the veggies to keep them from drying out. Cucumber is happiest in a sealed bag on its own. Remember to re-use your bags once done!
Once again, the blender is your friend here. You can whizz a batch of energy balls together in minutes and make lots of them at once. Plus, they keep well, so you can pack a couple in your lunchbox for days to come.
The key to a good energy ball is dates. They’re naturally sweet, with a lovely toffee-like flavour, and their stickiness helps bind everything together.
For the remaining ingredients, choose a selection of nuts, seeds, oats and other flavours you enjoy. For example, it’s tough to beat a classic peanut butter energy ball (we love to roll ours in desiccated coconut) or a chocolatey one made with raw cacao!
Seize the opportunity to sneak in extra healthy ingredients. We never make an energy ball without adding in Jerusalem Artichoke Powder. It’s packed with prebiotic inulin fibre, and has such a mild, sweet flavour that you’ll never taste it in the final energy ball. Alternatively, our Sea Buckthorn Powder adds a fruity kick and lots of beta-carotene and omega-7 to your ball!
To make the dough, simply whizz your selection of fruit, nuts and flavours together in a blender. Tip into a bowl and take about a heaped teaspoon at a time. With wet hands (to prevent sticking), roll the dough into little balls and line them up on a baking sheet lined with greaseproof paper. Done!
We have a lovely recipe for cashew nut and sea buckthorn energy balls here as well.
Save time: let us do the hard work for you. We make three delicious flavours of raw energy balls here at Erbology. They’re all made with activated nuts and seeds for easy digestion, contain no added sugar, and provide prebiotic fibre to boot.
Grabbing a biscuit with your midmorning cuppa is as natural as breathing to most of us, but it’s probably not doing your health any favours.
Luckily, if you make your own, you can keep the comforting ritual in place while using healthier ingredients. There are plenty of biscuit recipes out there that provide a crisp and delicious partner for your cuppa without the need for lots of butter, sugar and artificial ingredients.
For example, take the classic Tuscan biscotti (or to be strictly correct, biscotto). Here’s a biscuit that was literally invented for armies on the move, so it’ll provide the energy to power your morning. Yet, you can make a whole batch of our almond biscotti recipe with no eggs or dairy, and only 2 tbsp oil and 1/3 cup sugar for ten biscuits!
Save time: Did you know that biscuits are really easy to freeze? Save yourself work by making up a double batch and freezing some for later. For the biscotti recipe above, make the dough up to the point where you shape it into a log and then wrap in cling film and pop in the freezer. When you’re ready, thaw it on a baking sheet and proceed with the rest of the recipe.
Even better, there are lots of other types of biscuit and cookie that you can freeze before baking, too. Simply bake them straight from the freezer, adding a minute or two onto your normal cooking time.
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