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Avoiding the Vending Machine Slump

Avoiding the Vending Machine Slump

I lived at work in January. I didn't pull out a blow-up mattress and horrify the nurses by wearing my bathrobe around, but that did sound like a good idea some nights…especially when I was here so late that the lights were turned out on me twice (and I couldn't find the panel to turn them back on - funny guys, reeeeal funny).

Burning the midnight oil at work made it seem impossible to eat well. Being a dietitian, a cooking school grad and a person with no other mouths to feed didn't matter. I still found myself with my forehead against the vending machine late at night, slumped over in defeat.

In an effort to survive this long stretch of extra project work without the stain of ketchup chips permanently tattooed on my face, I had to come up with some solutions…fast. I know it would have been better if I had planned in advance and had individual servings of homemade oatmeal muffins, soup, lasagna and other meals frozen and ready to go. But, reality was, after the holidays my freezer had only a few old crumby ice cube trays, some freezer burnt smoked salmon and a yogurt container of frozen mystery liquid that I never labelled. So, I rallied with some options that would keep me healthy when I didn't have time to spare.

See the tables below.

Eating at your desk:
one handed snacks for when you can't pry both hands off the keyboard

Prep Time: 0 to 5 minutes

Nuts Kenton keeps a stash of unsalted nuts in his desk drawer. When I get cranky at work from hunger, he silently passes me the nuts. After a small handful of almonds, my hunger (and crankiness!) is appeased for awhile.
Fruit Fresh, dried, canned. Yes, I have a can of peaches in my desk drawer as I write this.
Veggies Baby carrots, sugar snap peas or snow peas, broccoli or cauliflower florets, cherry tomatoes, coloured pepper strips, celery or cucumber sticks. Dip them in hummus (store-bought works).
PB & J Half a peanut butter and jam (or banana or honey) sandwich on grainy bread makes me happy as if my mom were taking care of me while I worked.
Cheese String cheese or those little single serve cheese rounds
Yogurt Still one-handed if you don't hold the cup!


*Please Note: Eating at your desk is not optimal. No one wants a keyboard full of crumbs and miscellaneous food particles (not to mention the importance of taking a brain break). Also, if you find yourself so entrenched in work that you are crossing your legs to avoid getting up to go to the bathroom, it is time to stretch your legs instead of your bladder. If you feel so inclined, keep walking and get yourself some fresh air and a latte. You may be EVEN smarter when you get back!

Grab and go lunches you are willing to leave your desk for!

Prep Time: Up to 10 minutes

No plate required

Packages of tortillas are desk-drawer friendly (don't forget about them) and they can wrap around almost anything so you don't get taste fatigue (whole grain pitas work too but have a shorter shelf life). If you have the "wrapper" at work, you can just bring the fixins for the fridge. One less thing to think about. Try these combos:

  • Store bought hummus + tomato + cucumber + prewashed greens (spinach, spring mix, arugula, whatever)
  • Canned (drained and rinsed) black beans + pre-shredded cheese + salsa + prewashed greens
  • Scrambled egg + hot sauce + pre-shredded cheese + tomato
  • Nut butter + banana -> wrap up and eat like a hotdog
Something warm Melt cheese on a whole grain pita with apple (no, really, if you haven't tried it, you'll thank me) or tomato slices
Fishwich Stock up on those single serve flavoured tunas, canned oysters or sardines and keep a box of low sodium whole grain crackers in your desk

Foods that take little effort to chew:

  • Cottage cheese and canned fruit
  • Hardboiled eggs and toast
  • Homemade smoothie
  • Half an avocado on half a whole grain bagel

Despite my best efforts, on the few occasions when I found myself foraging for food, I usually settled for chocolate milk and a banana from a nearby convenience store. Not exactly a complete meal but enough to keep me from falling asleep on the bus and missing my stop.

If you aren't sure if those dried figs or other abandoned desk drawer snacks are still safe to eat, check out Still Tasty before you dig in.

What quick and easy ideas help get your through the busy-ness of work and life?



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