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This post is written by Suzanne Hines.
For several years now my husband has worked as a first responder: first as the medic, and now as a police recruit.
Through the years, I have always struggled with what food to send with him for lunch and snacks because of the unique challenges the field represents.
For starters, there is no set lunch hour. In fact, there is often no predictability in when or if there will be a short break to eat.
There is also the issue of not having access to a refrigerator or microwave, making it difficult to send leftover or food that needs to stay cold.
And then there is the issue of how much physical work they are doing and how much energy they are expending during their shift. Running, walking, standing, sometimes sweating through their heavy uniforms and vests burns a lot of calories.
Finally, our husbands are often working LONG shifts – anywhere from 10 to 24 hours. Instead of packing 1 lunch and 2-3 snacks, I am finding myself packing multiple meals and multiple snacks.
It is no surprise that many of our first responders struggle with their health – because it is so hard to eat healthy with these challenges. Sometimes our husbands are so busy taking care of others that they are unable to take care of themselves.
While my husband currently goes through the 6 month police academy for our local city, he is under more physical strain than at any other time in his life. He has had PT several times a week, and the sheer amount of push-ups and sit-ups they do on a daily basis makes me tired just thinking about it.
With this new physical regiment, I find that a typical lunch is just not even to keep him fueled throughout the day.
After coming home exhausted one day, he told me that all of the other recruits like to bring granola bars, protein shakes and high-calorie snacks to eat throughout the day. Since we often can’t afford everything the store has to offer, I set my mind to coming up with a list of ideas that I can send with my husband to work.
All of the following ideas can be homemade OR store bought, and are packed with the types of calories and nutrients that our hard-working men need throughout a long day at work!
10 Energy-Packed Homemade Snacks For Police Officers
- Protein balls. Mix together 1/2 c honey, 1/2 peanut butter, 3/4 c dry milk powder, 1/4 c protein powder, 1 c rolled oats. Recipes then call for rolling into balls, but I just throw it in a ziploc bag and we eat it straight from the source! These are so easy to make and SO delicious!
- Chopped veggies: carrots, cucumbers, and green peppers make great snacks. Sometimes we just need something cool and juicy to munch on. These go great with a small container of dip, but that is completely optional. I find that if I chop and prepare all the veggies on Saturday or Sunday, I can just throw an already prepared baggie into his lunchbox
- Muffins. We love muffins because one batch can go such a long way, and they are so easy to transport! I also love how they can be mixed and matched and have all types of flavors! I have found these delicious protein muffins that my husband loves for breakfast, lunch or snack time!
- Granola Bars. I wasn’t sure how making my own granola bars would go, but these turned out so good that I find myself sneaking some and hoping that my husband won’t notice! Granola bars are also easy to switch up flavors AND pack with protein, plus they are so easy to have on the go!
- Hard Boiled Eggs. Although not my favorite, hard boiled eggs are one of the best ways to get protein on the go! As with the veggies, if I can hardball a large batch of eggs on the weekend, I can just throw one or two in the lunchbox each day. Eggs do need to be refrigerated, but they will last in an insulated lunchbox for at least at morning.
- Roasted Chickpeas/Pumpkin Seeds Chickpeas pack a double health punch- fiber and protein! Although they can be bland, roasting them and adding seasoning of choice can really make them delicious! I usually make two different batches- one with seasoning that my husband prefers, and one with seasoning that I prefer.
- Homemade Tortilla Chips. or Sweet Potato Chips . Sometimes we just need something salty to munch on, don’t we? Although time consuming, homemade chips are not labor intensive and can be a healthier option than the store bought version.
- Dried Fruits. Drying out fruit at home is actually not as difficult as I had imagined! The best thing about homemade dried fruits is that you only have to buy what is in season and dry it out to have for the rest of the seasons! I just throw some in baggies and find they help to beat the sweet tooth!
- Trail Mix. Homemade trail mix is simple- just throw together an assortment of your favorite nuts and you are good to go! I always throw in some of my favorite sweet treats, too, because one can always sneak in some chocolate!
- Homemade Bread for sandwiches or spreads. Homemade bread typically has 4-5 key ingredients, but store-bought bread usually has an ingredient list 15-20 items deep. Most of those extra ingredients are additives that really take away from the benefits of eating bread (which has really led to our cultures gluten intolerance). Homemade bread tends to dry out faster and mold quicker, but it is much easier for our bodies to digest and actually takes longer to digest, leaving us feeling satisfied for longer. I love to send homemade bread to work with my husband because not only is it a touch of home in his lunchbox, but it also keeps him full longer!
*Please note that none of these recipes were created by me. I have linked to the favorite recipes that I use, but all credit for the recipe creation goes to the talented cooks linked in each recipe!
What types of snacks/meals do you send to work with your husband?