Office refrigerator

A doctor’s office is not always the healthiest place to spend your day—and I am not talking about contagious patients and hazardous waste—I’m talking about the break room.

If your office is like most, your kitchen area is filled with sweet treats from grateful patients, remnants from some birthday or holiday, and rotting leftovers. Combine that with a day of back-to-back patients, and you probably aren’t eating as well as you should.

You could hire a personal chef to pack you healthy snacks and bring you lunch everyday, or you could just take the advice of people who have already solved your problem: food scientists, foodies, and backpackers.

Ask the Food Scientists

Food scientists sometimes get a bad wrap for all the flip flopping they do, fats being bad one minute and good the next, not to mention the ever-evolving geometry of the USDA food guide. Despite this, one piece of advice continues to rise to the top; we all need to eat more whole fruits and vegetables.

Sectioned container with fruit and vegetables and nuts

Through the Choose My Plate program, the USDA offers tips to help increase your consumption of fruits and veggies. They recommend keeping the following foods on hand:

  • A bowl of fresh fruit on the counter
  • Pre-washed veggies for a quick salad
  • Pre-cut fruit like melon and pineapple
  • Dried fruits without added sugar
  • Canned fruit in 100% juice
  • Frozen fruits and vegetables

They have many more suggestions here.

Think Like a Backpacker

Hikers think a lot about food, lightweight, nutrient-dense, non-perishable food. Their food solutions also happen to be perfect for busy people who need quick snacks that will get them through a packed day—sound familiar?

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics provides a terrific summary of these food solutions in their article 5 Food Tips for Camping and Hiking. Here are just a few:

  • Ready-made tuna salad pouches
  • Nuts, seeds and nut butter packs
  • Granola
  • Poultry, salmon or meat jerky
  • Fruit and vegetable puree in squeezable pouches
  • Freeze-dried fruits and veggies

Plate of nuts and seeds

Hikers and campers also get very creative with just-add-water meals. This doesn’t mean you have to buy a portable camping stove for your office either. An electric kettle will do the job quite nicely. Check out the Food Network for recipes like Vegetarian Curried Couscous and Miso Chicken Noodle Soup. More recipes here.

Look to the Foodies

You might think that foodies would have too much disdain for the microwave oven to include it in their food prep, but you’d be wrong. In their Epi Loves the Microwave Series, the gourmet food magazine, Epicurious, proved that this common break room appliance can be used for more than just cup-o-noodles and double buttered popcorn.

Here are a few of their surprising and tasty recipes:

Avocado Egg Sandwich on Toasted Whole Grain Muffins

After just two minutes in the microwave, the eggs are transformed into a fluffy disc perfectly suited to go between two halves of a toasted English muffin. Slide on a couple slices of avocado and a drizzle of hot sauce, and you have a satisfying meal that will hold you for hours, or leave you with enough time to make another one. Recipe here.

Cheesy Mushroom and Spinach Lasagna

Unbelievably, this traditional pasta medley cooks in just 15 minutes. The secret is no-bake noodles slathered in marinara sauce. Layer the noodles with ricotta, pre-sliced mushrooms, pre-washed spinach, and melty cheese. No one will believe you made it in the break room. Recipe here.

Steamed fish with Garlic Vegetables

A combination of quick-cooking vegetables, olive oil, garlic and a splash of white wine turns a well seasoned fish fillet into rich flakey goodness. This French classic hack only requires a covered baking dish and cooks in just a few minutes. Recipe here.