9 Healthy Snacks You Can Prep in 5 Minutes or Less

Swap snacks from the vending machine for these healthy, energy-filled options.

Updated on December 27, 2023

young woman snacking at office job
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Healthy eating—which includes a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and heart-healthy fats—can help you manage your weight, protect your heart from disease, and promote healthy blood pressure. But when you're crunched for time, a packaged snack may seem like the only option to prevent your hunger from turning into "hanger."

People in fast-paced professions may find it especially difficult to grab a nutritious bite to eat on the job. Packing a 5-minute snack is the best way to forgo full-fat and sugar-rich eats sold in convenience stores, workplace cafeterias, and vending machines.

Energy-boosting foods like nuts, fruit, and soybeans can be prepped in practically no time and carried in your purse, lunch tote, or backpack. The wholesome snack possibilities are seemingly endless and customizable. Here are nine examples to try today.

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A handful of nuts

Nuts are a portable powerhouse: They’re high in nutrition, readily available, and they leave you feeling satisfied. Nuts have another advantage: They can help lower your levels of low-density lipoproteins (aka LDL, or "bad" cholesterol). This fatty substance can build up in your arteries, increasing the risk of stroke and heart attack. 

Pack your favorite nuts (like almonds, pistachios, or cashews) ahead of the time in small plastic or glass containers or resealable bags. Be careful to not overdo it, though; nuts are high in calories. Keep your portion to about an ounce. That's roughly 23 almonds, 18 cashews, or 49 pistachios.

slicing an apple
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In-season fruit

Fruit is the perfect grab-and-go snack. Whole fruits—like apples, bananas, and pears—are cholesterol-free, low in calories, loaded with vitamins and nutrients, and can be tossed directly into your bag without any prep. Fruits are also chock-full of dietary fiber, which can help lower cholesterol levels and reduce heart disease risk.

If you forget your fruit at home, your sweet snack can be replaced easily and inexpensively. Bananas or apples go for less than a dollar a piece and are often available in cafeterias and convenience stores. For the best flavor and most bang for your buck, reach for in-season produce

cottage cheese
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Creamy cottage cheese

Cottage cheese: You probably either love it or hate it. This might not be the right snack for everyone, but low-fat cottage cheese topped with fruit slices or cinnamon could satisfy your cravings. A 1-cup serving of this low-fat snack, which contains 25 grams of protein, will keep you satiated and full of energy.

There's no limit on the number of tasty toppings you can try, but fresh pineapple chunks, strawberry slices, and cantaloupe pieces are some sweet options.

dipping carrot veggie in hummus
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Veggie strips and hummus

This combination of protein and fiber will boost your energy levels and keep you full until your next proper meal. And don’t think this has to be complicated: You can slice up a cucumber in minutes, or open a bag of baby carrots in seconds.

If you have time, cut up veggies in bulk and place in containers or baggies to bring with you throughout the week. Vary vegetables to avoid monotony. Give juicy cherry tomatoes, red bell pepper slices, and crisp radish pieces a try.

hard-boiled egg sprinkled with pepper
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Hard-boiled eggs

In just 15 minutes a week of at-home prep, you can prepare hard boiled eggs for several days. This protein-rich snack takes just 30 seconds to peel, so they make for an easy choice anytime hunger strikes.

Eggs boast a substantial dose of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, but it's important to be mindful that they also contain saturated fat and cholesterol. While the cholesterol in eggs (and other foods) likely won't adversely affect blood cholesterol levels for most people, some may be affected. If you have preexisting heart risk factors, double check with your healthcare provider before making eggs your go-to snack.

greek yogurt
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Plain, nonfat Greek yogurt

Stash a supply of single-serve Greek yogurt containers in your fridge for a bite that requires no prep. Compared to ordinary yogurt, Greek yogurt has about twice the protein and contains healthy probiotics, which are beneficial for gut health. It's thicker, too, so it offers a more satisfying bite. This can help you eat less.

Fancy up your snack by adding a sprinkle of unsweetened coconut flakes, no-sugar-added granola, or a handful of fresh berries.

dark chocolate
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A morsel of dark chocolate

Occasional indulgences are okay and even encouraged by some nutritionists. Turn to dark chocolate when you’re looking to splurge. This rich sweet contains antioxidants, like flavanols, that help ward off damage from free radicals and improve vascular health. 

Don’t munch more than one or two squares per day, though, as chocolate does tend to be high in calories and saturated fat. Also beware of noshing too late at night. Chocolate contains caffeine, which could make falling asleep a challenge.

peanut butter and apples
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Apple or celery with nut butter

Fruits, vegetables, and nuts make standout snacks on their own, and combining them increases the healthfulness of your snack.

Most produce is packed with valuable minerals and vitamins, and nuts and nut butters offer energy-boosting proteins and healthy fats. For an energizing snack in seconds, slice up an apple and pair it with a spoonful of cashew butter. Or make like a kid after school and have peanut-butter-stuffed celery stalks. When scanning the store shelves for the perfect nut blend, choose a container without added sugars and other additives.

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Skip the chips and instead microwave a batch of this crisp, protein-packed snack. Place three-quarters of a cup of edamame in a bowl, add a splash of water, and microwave for 3 to 5 minutes. Drain the water, sprinkle with a bit of salt, and enjoy. These nibbles are full of fiber and protein so they'll keep your belly full and energy levels up.

Slideshow sources open slideshow sources

MedlinePlus. Snacks for adults. Reviewed July 30, 2022.
HHS Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Healthy Snacks: Quick Tips for Parents. Last updated August 30, 2023.
American Heart Association. Healthy Snacking. Last reviewed October 24, 2023.
Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health. The Science of Snacking. Last reviewed February 2021.
Mayo Clinic. Nuts and your heart: Eating nuts for heart health. November 15, 2023.
Michigan Medicine/CS Mott Children’s Hospital. Fiber in Foods Chart. Accessed December 27, 2023.
Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health. Eggs. Last reviewed August 2020.
Harvard Health Publishing. Want probiotics but dislike yogurt? Try these foods. July 18, 2023.
UC Davis Health. Dark chocolate health benefits? The good and the bad to this sweet treat. February 14, 2023.
Yale New Haven Health. Chocolate: Food of the Gods. Accessed December 27, 2023.

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