60+ Healthy Foods for When You Have No Time to Eat

When you don’t have the time or place to fix something to eat, these are great, healthy food options. From Drs. Susan Mitchell and Catherine Christie, authors of Fat Is Not Your Fate: Outsmart Your Genes and Lose the Weight Forever

Here is a list of No-Prep foods to pick up at the grocery or convenience store. These are great when you don’t have the time or place to fix something or can’t sit down in a restaurant to eat. No-Prep means just that — open and eat. Be sure to think about the number of protein, carbohydrate, and fat servings on your diet plan for the meal or snack you choose.

You will have to estimate the correct portion size using your hand. Product sizes vary all over the country. Your serving size is the amount allowed in terms of your hand size. Item location will vary by type of store.

Bakery

  • Bagels (top with low-fat cream cheese or peanut butter) — Palm
  • Raisin bran muffins (even better if made with liquid oil rather than hydrogenated oil) — Fist

Dairy/Alternatives

  • Blueberry smoothie (such as Odwalla) — Fist
  • Cheese sticks — Thumb
  • DanActive probiotic dairy drink — Fist
  • Laughing Cow cheese (doesn’t require refrigeration) — Thumb
  • Milk chugs (single serving low-fat or skim milk) — Fist
  • Slim·Fast (check for cold ones in deli or drink case) — Fist
  • Snack size cottage cheese (such as Light n’ Lively) — Fist
  • Soy drinks in smaller sizes such as
    • Coffee soylatte — Fist
    • Vanilla, chocolate — Fist
  • Yogurt cups, low-fat and one third fewer calories (less sugar) — Fist
  • Yogurt drinks (smoothies; there are so many of these that you must compare the labels to make the best choice) — Fist
  • Yogurt tubes — Fist

Deli
Because these products vary greatly by store and recipe, one type of potato salad may have twice the fat of another choice. Compare your options and follow the portion guides, using your fist, palm, or thumb.

  • Bottled water or flavored water without calories — Freebie
  • Carrot raisin salad — Fist
  • Deli baked beans — Fist
  • Fresh fruit cups — Fist
  • Garden pasta — Fist
  • Green tea or other tea (canned with nothing added) — Freebie
  • Greek style salad — Fist
  • Hard-cooked eggs — Thumb
  • Hummus and pita (such as Athenos Travelers) — Thumb
  • Kosher garlic pickles — Freebie
  • Macaroni salad — Fist
  • Pimento cheese — Thumb
  • Potato salad — Fist
  • Red pepper hummus — Thumb
  • Salata Mediterranean salad — Fist
  • Shredded coleslaw — Fist
  • Smoked salmon — Palm
  • Soup of the day (non–cream based) with corn bread or other whole grain bread — Fist
  • Subs and other sandwiches made with lean meats and topped with vegetables — Fist
  • Summer rolls (typically found with sushi) — Palm
  • Sushi — Palm
  • Taboule — Fist
  • Tropicana peach smoothie — Fist
  • Turkey salad — Fist
  • V8 juice with a lemon twist (there are several V8 flavors) — Fist
  • White tuna salad — Fist

Miscellaneous

  • Clif Bars, such as Crunchy Peanut Butter or Chocolate Chip Peanut Crunch — Palm
  • Granola or trail mix (ingredients really vary by brand, so compare them) — Fist
  • Gourmet baked chips such as Kettle Krisps or Guiltless Gourmet — Fist
  • Just Tomatoes and similar snacks, such as Just Mango, Just Raspberries, or Just Roasted Garlic — Fist
  • New York flat breads (crackers) — Palm
  • Nuts — Thumb
  • Odwalla Bars such as Chocolate or Peanut Crunch — Palm
  • Peanut butter crackers — Palm
  • Peanut butter (also available in squeeze containers and individually wrapped slices) — Thumb
  • Peanut butter–filled pretzels — Fist
  • Popcorn, light — Two fists
  • Pop-top cans of fruit or individual fruit bowls — Fist
  • Pop-top tuna or tuna pouches — Fist
  • Powerbar: Harvest — Palm
  • Raisins and other dried fruit — Thumb
  • Raspberry bars, such as Natural Choice — Palm
  • Soy crisps, such as Genisoy Zesty Barbecue (other salty and sweet varieties available) — Palm
  • Soynuts — Thumb
  • Triscuits (reduced fat) — Palm
  • Whole Food’s VERVE Bar, such as Peanut Butter Crunch or Chocolate Chip Peanut Crunch — Palm

Energy Bars
Energy bars, trail mix, and trail mix bars can be quite high in calories, so compare them. They can even vary within the same brand. For example, some may have a coating that contains hydrogenated fat, so pay close attention to the ingredients as well as the Nutrition Facts label.

THE BEST ENERGY BARS HAVE:

  • At least 3 grams of fiber, preferably 5 or more
  • Low saturated fat grams and sugar grams (1 teaspoon sugar = 4 grams)
  • 7–10 grams of protein for women and up to 15 grams of protein for men if used to replace a mini-meal or snack.
  • No palm kernel oil, coconut oil, or trans fat, indicated by hydrogenated or fractionated fat

Produce

  • Baby carrots — Freebie
  • Carrots and ranch dip (such as Coolcuts) — Freebie
  • Celery with dip (found in produce section) — Freebie
  • Cut-up fruit:
    • Pineapple — Fist
    • Honeydew — Fist
    • Cantaloupe — Fist
    • Watermelon — Fist
    • Strawberries — Fist
  • Fruit by the piece  — Fist
  • Garden salad in a to-go container — Freebie
  • Grapes by the bunch  — Fist
  • Spinach salad in a to-go container — Freebie
  • Tropicana juice bottles (found with juice, usually by produce) – Fist

ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Dr. Susan Mitchell and Dr. Catherine Christie are the authors of Fat is Not Your Fate (Copyright © 2005 by Dr. Susan Mitchell and Dr. Catherine Christie), I’d Kill for a Cookie, and Eat to Stay Young. Dr. Mitchell, a registered dietitian, certified nutrition specialist, and fellow of the American Dietetic Association, has appeared on Today, CNN, and the TV Food Network. Dr. Christie, also a registered dietitian and certified nutrition specialist, is a fellow of the American Dietetic Association and president of the Florida Dietetic Association.

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