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Healthy and fit on the go: Planning meals on the go

When eating away from home, planning may be the most important action a person can take. When stressed or rushed, many revert to familiar habits. If those habits include unhealthy foods, you may end up eating larger portions or grabbing fried or sugary foods because there isn’t anything healthy within reach.

Pack a meal

Planning ahead provides a variety of healthy food choices and portion sizes that are satisfying. Eating well also serves as a subtle role model for the workplace culture that may not focus on healthy eating and often includes unhealthy food for celebrations. With a little thought, anyone can plan a meal on the go that is both healthy and satisfying. Try these:

  • Whole-wheat bagel with low-fat cheese, a pear and water.
  • Fresh spinach, crumbled feta cheese, and cubed chicken in a whole wheat pita, grapes and skim milk.
  • Broth-based soup, baked wheat crackers, an apple and sparkling water.
  • Sliced turkey with low-fat dressing wrapped in a lettuce leaf, carrot sticks, fresh berries and  iced tea

Take along food

Fresh fruits

Select apples, pears, grapes and berries. Fresh fruit, whether whole or cut-up, is an excellent choice for a snack.

Dried fruits

Pack figs, prunes, dates, apricots, raisins or dried fruit mixes to satisfy both your hunger and your sweet tooth.


Choose plain or Greek yogurt and add fruit. Try blending yogurt with frozen berries for smoothies to go. Make a parfait by layering fresh berries, granola and yogurt.


Carry along part-skim mozzarella sticks or a small baggie of cubed low-fat cheese.


Bag up pre-cut carrots, celery, bell pepper strips, cherry or grape tomatoes, sugar snap peas, cold cooked sweet potato wedges, or cucumber slices. You can pack several snack bags at once and keep in the refrigerator to grab and go each morning.


Try hummus, salsa, plain yogurt or cottage cheese. Add herbs and spices to vary the flavors.


Keep it whole grain. Read the ingredients list — if the first ingredient says whole (wheat, corn, etc.) then it’s whole-grain bread. Try whole wheat tortillas for wraps or pita bread for pocket salads. These are easy to take along on the road.


Choose lean cuts like sliced, oven-roasted turkey or chicken. Processed or smoked lunch meats may be high in fat, sodium or nitrates. Peanut butter is a great choice. If you make PB & J, use a fresh fruit spread instead of high-sugar jam or jelly.


Drink water, 100 percent juice, skim milk, unsweetened tea or coffee. Other beverages include added calories, sugar and salt that aren’t necessary.


Bring baked whole grain crackers, pretzels, rice or popcorn cakes, small portion microwave popcorn, nuts (1/4 cup), or small bags or boxes of whole grain cereal.

Reviewed by Jimmie Johnson, Extension educator

Reviewed in 2023

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