It drives me bonkers when I visit my family and there is no healthy food available. Stocking up on chocolate, oversized muffins and warehouse-sized snack packs may seem like an efficient way to please visitors, but whether I’m the host or guest, I don’t want to be surrounded by high-calorie junk food. These days, when I host friends or family, I make sure to keep everyone happy and healthy with these better-for-you choices:
Snacks are essential when you have house guests. Whether you’re feeding hungry kids who can’t wait until dinner or your guests need a mid-afternoon bite, having easy-to-grab snacks is essential. A few of my favorites to stock up on include:
- Fresh fruit like pears, apples, clementines, grapes and bananas
- Easy-to-dip vegetables like baby carrots, celery sticks and bell pepper slices
- Dips like hummus, salsa, guacamole and nut butters
- Snack bars (just watch the added sugar!) and protein bars
- DIY trail mix using dried fruit, nuts and whole-grain cereal
- Single-serve cups of quinoa, oatmeal, muesli and whole-grain cereal
- Boxed 100-percent juice
- Meat or jerky sticks
- Single-serve popcorn
- Single-serve Greek yogurt or drinkable yogurt
- Cheese sticks
- Hard-boiled eggs
Getting breakfast for an extra two, four or more people can be stressful. Advanced planning can help alleviate the hustle and bustle every morning – and prevent bagel burnout.
If you can get organized and prep a few breakfast options before guests arrive, here are a few delicious ideas. If you are super organized, you can prep these items up to two months in advance:
- Whole-grain muffins
- Egg burritos
- Mini vegetable quiches
- Breakfast cookies
- Whole-grain pancakes and waffles
If you only have one or two days to prep before guests arrive, there are a few breakfast options you can toss together and refrigerate for a few days. These include:
- Overnight oats
- Parfaits made with fresh fruit, granola or nuts
- Crepes to be filled with yogurt and fruit
If you’re planning on whipping up a quick breakfast when your guests are there, here are some ideas:
- Quick-cooking oats with fresh or dried fruit like bananas, berries, raisins or tart cherries
- Eggs for omelets, scrambled eggs or pan-fried in cooking spray
- Better-for-you pancake and waffle mixes like those made by Birch Benders and Kodiak Cakes
- Whole-grain bread and peanut or almond butter
- Greek yogurt topped with granola and fruit
[See: High-Protein Breakfast Ideas.]
If bagels are a must-have meal, pair them with a protein like smoked salmon, eggs or nut butter, and include lots of fresh fruit and vegetables.
Although you may love PB&J for lunch, your house guests may be expecting something more. A few simple lunch ideas include:
- Cheese quesadillas filled with leftover chicken, chili or beans
- Lighter tuna and egg salad sandwiches (made with white beans, garbanzo beans or a combination of reduced-fat mayo and nonfat plain Greek yogurt) wrapped in a whole-grain tortilla or stuffed into a whole-wheat pita
- Slow cooker anything! Chicken, beef and vegetarian dishes can be whipped up in a few hours in a slow cooker. Easy slow cooker meals for a crowd include chili, stew, chicken breast, shredded beef and pork loin.
- DIY salad bar with hard-boiled eggs, beans, leftover chicken or beef, fresh vegetables like lettuce, cucumber and tomatoes, sunflower seeds, cheese and vinaigrette dressing
If you want to impress your guests with a simple salad, try my tuna nicoise salad from my latest cookbook, “The Healthy Meal Prep Cookbook.”
Tuna Nicoise Salad
2 small red potatoes, sliced into 1-inch cubes (about 1 cup)
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
5 ounces fresh spinach, chopped (about 4 cups)
1 cup fresh green beans, trimmed and cut into thirds
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
2 (4-ounce) cans tuna packed in olive oil, undrained
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 lemon, quartered
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a baking sheet with the cooking spray.
In a small bowl, add the potatoes, olive oil and salt. Toss to evenly coat. Spread the potatoes in a single layer on the baking sheet. Roast until golden brown and tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Set aside to cool for 10 minutes.
While the potatoes are roasting, place the eggs in a medium pot and cover them with water. Place the pot over high heat and bring the water to a boil. Cook the eggs for three minutes, then remove the pot from the heat, cover it, and let stand for 15 minutes. Drain and run cold water over the eggs until they are completely cool, about 10 minutes. Peel and slice into quarters lengthwise.
Into each of four glass containers, place 1 cup of the spinach. Top each with 1/4 cup of the potatoes, 4 egg quarters, 1/4 cup each of green beans and tomatoes, and 1/2 can of tuna with the oil. Sprinkle each with the black pepper and add a lemon wedge. When ready to eat, squeeze the lemon juice on the tuna.
Store each sealed jar for up to five days in the refrigerator.
Nutrition information per jar: 278 calories; 12 grams total fat; 3 grams saturated fat; 23 grams protein; 19 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams fiber; 508 milligrams sodium