It’s official: the world is reopening. Whether you’re going back to the office every day or simply getting out and about more, 24/7 access to our refrigerators is coming to an end — for better or for worse.
If you’re feeling anxious about taking your healthy habits outside the house, we’ve got you covered. Below, NYC-based registered dietitian Anthea Levi, MS, RD, shares her top tips for planning meals and snacks for a busy day.
Prep Like a Pro
You know the saying, “Fail to plan, plan to fail”? It’s not not accurate. While you’re definitely not a failure for forgetting to pack carrots and hummus for the road, it’s true that thinking ahead makes all the difference when it comes to making nutritious choices.
The best way to get ahead of hanger? Eat often. I recommend eating every three to four hours (usually three meals and one to two snacks daily) to keep blood sugar levels stable and prevent us from feeling overly hungry. Because we’re way less likely to order the kale caesar once we’re ravenous.
If I’m DIY-ing my lunch for the day, I’ll choose something easily portable and packed with nutrients. One option I love: grain-free wraps (like Siete Foods’ cassava or chickpea tortillas) rolled up with a sliced hard boiled egg or two, a healthy swath of hummus, smashed avocado, greens, and tomatoes. Other ideas are Mason jar salads (layer them with greens, grains, roasted veggies, and crunchy seeds for a Pinterest-worthy packed lunch) or a loaded green smoothie if you have a bottle, like a Yeti, that will keep it cool for hours.
Speaking of dishware, a killer lunchbox can make or break your meal prep motivation. Find an adorable bento box to take the guesswork out of packing and portioning your food, or snag some glass tupperware to make it toxin-free and sustainable.
If I have to grab lunch out, I’m all about a custom Sweetgreen salad. I usually go for a kale and romaine base, either the blackened chicken or tofu, fresh herbs, roasted sweet potatoes, cabbage, and whatever else catches my eye in the seasonal section (RIP their cucumber tahini yogurt dressing). A loaded Mediterranean bowl from Cava, the vegan “chickpea nicoise” from Bonberi Mart, and the seitan chorizo burrito bowl from Honeybrains are always welcome options too.
If I know I’ll be out of the house all day, I try to pack nutrient-dense snacks so I’m covered if I get peckish between meals. Choose snacks that serve up at least two of the three food groups, meaning a carb and a source of protein and/or healthy fat to maximize satiety. After all, what’s the point of a snack if it’s 20 calories worth of celery sticks?
Instead, go for something like an apple (carb) along with a single serving nut butter packet (healthy fat/protein). Need more ideas? Try:
- 1 single serving Lavva yogurt (healthy fat) + 1 small banana (carb)
- 1 single serving hummus cup (healthy fat/protein) + baby carrots (carb)
- 2 Medjool dates (carb) + 1 small handful toasted almonds (healthy fat/protein)
If you’re crunched for time and forget to pack a snack, New Yorkers can’t go wrong with a Blue Magic smoothie from Juice Press or a chia seed muffin from Le Pain Quotidien.
Chances are you’ll need to feel energized for a full day. Consuming adequate fluids is critical for keeping our cells hydrated and our energy levels stable.
Aim to drink anywhere from 65 to 100 ounces of water on busy days; recommendations change depending on factors like your age, activity levels, the foods in your diet, and the temp outside.
While it may feel inconvenient to take regular bathroom breaks, the alternative (think: sluggishness due to dehydration) will hurt your productivity even more. Throw some fresh cucumbers or orange slices in your water bottle to make your H2O more interesting, then sip away to feel fueled all day.