The Cooking Light team is big on snacks. In fact, we taste test hundreds of snacks every year and pick the best of the best. But when when we have pies in the office kitchen and multiple items to taste test on a daily basis, we have to plan smart and give ourselves quality snacks that are filling but not bursting with calories.
If it's not already, your right-hand tool in the quest for healthier snacking should be the snack-sized zip-top bag—a budget-friendly tool that's also perfect for portion-controlled snacking. Their smaller size means they can't carry as much food as larger bags—which limits the risk of over-snacking—and they zip closed, making them ideal to use on the go.
This post is all about the DIY 100-Calorie Snack Pack. I've listed a few of my favorite options when it comes to filling up those little baggies. I've also categorized them as 'Good' and 'Better', for those instances when you have a choice between similar products. When snacks are just too close to call, I've labeled them with 'Or' to indicate that they are almost calorically the same.
Nutrition tip: Always be sure to check labels and rule out any snacks that contain trans fats or too much sodium. When you can, always opt for the whole-grain variety of any snack.
1 brown rice crisp (20 calories) + 1 cheese stick (8 caloriesversus1/2 ounce cheddar cheese cubes (55 calories) + 3 whole-wheat pita chips (45 calories)
In either of these options, you are essentially getting the same snack, just in different ratios. One has more carbs while the other delivers more cheese. It just depends on your preferences and willingness to put the bag of pita chips down. (I know that one is hard for me.)
Annie's Bernie's Farm Fruit Snacks (70 calories)versus1/4 cup grapes (15 calories) + 3/4 cup blueberries (60 calories)
When you're in a pinch, these Annie's Fruit Snacks (which contain not artificial colors or flavors, no high-fructose corn syrup, and are certified organic) will do just fine, but fresh fruit just can't be beat. Plus, 100 calories of fruit fills up the bag where you may only be getting a small handful of gummies.
1/3 cup Barbara's Peanut Butter Puffins (55 calories)versus1/4 cup granola (90 calories)
Roaming the grocery aisles for a decent bag of granola that doesn't have an absurd amount of sugar is quite frustrating. Chocolate, maple sugar, and nuts add a lot of unwanted calories to this breakfast favorite. I opted for Kellogg's Low-Fat Granola, but even still Barbara's Peanut Butter Puffins came up with half the calories and almost double the volume.
1 gala apple, cut into slices (80 calories)versus20 grams dehydrated apple slices (80 calories)
It's simply too close to call, unless you're big on the apple skins and crisp crunch of a fresh one! Dehydrated apples are almost calorically the same, so it really just depends on what texture you're looking for—and if you can spare having a sticky hand while working.
1 ounce beef jerky (90 calories)versus1 ounce turkey jerky (80 calories)
Turkey jerky might have slightly fewer calories, but you still get the same amount of jerky as you do with the beef variety. If you're watching your sugar, turkey might be the better route, but when it comes to sodium, they're both not ideal. If you've got the wiggle room for that extra sodium and need a protein-packed snack, these two options just can't be beat.
25 Pepperidge Farm Goldfish cheddar crackers made with whole grains (70 calories)versus 2 cups Cooking Light Simply Sea Salt Popcorn (70 calories)
Goldfish crackers might be one of the best childhood crossover snacks, but when you compare to the 2 cups of Cooking Light Simply Sea Salt Popcorn (available nationwide) you could have, it might not be a contest.
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