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6 guilt-free food ideas for busy season

Farmers marketSnacks continually rank near the top of everyone’s favorite workplace perks. Having food available in the office during busy season is an even bigger plus. Celebrate World Health Day by offering healthy alternatives, because worrying about gaining weight or blowing up unhealthy indicators like blood pressure and LDL cholesterol is stress we just don’t need right now!

Consider these tips for serving healthy snacks in your office this busy season:

  1. Set up a snack box. Build your own snack box using a serving tray with drawer organizers or a large basket. You can pick these up at a neighborhood retailer or order them online. If you’re short on time, vendors such as Naturebox and Snack Box Pros (also available from Office Depot and Sam’s Club) offer pre-assembled healthy snack boxes or allow you to build your own from their menu (see healthy snack tips below for help with selections).
  • Start the day off right. The importance of eating breakfast is one thing most health and wellness advocates promote. Yet many Americans continue to miss breakfast under normal circumstances. Add in busy season and the numbers are likely to skyrocket. Dedicate half of your offerings to breakfast foods, keeping in mind many of these can also double as snacks later in the day. Always include fresh fruit such as apples, oranges or bananas, nutritious breakfast bars, healthy varieties of cold cereal and hot cereal options such as oatmeal or grits. Sometimes feature special selections such as yogurt, whole grain bagels or muffins. Avoid regularly offering donuts, cinnamon rolls, Danish and other sugary-greasy options. You don’t have to exclude them entirely — just bring them in sparingly.
  • Don’t forget the treats! People like to be rewarded when they work hard. But treats don’t need to be guilty pleasures. Always include dark chocolate (it has less sugar and fat than milk chocolate), dried fruits and nuts (include some chocolate or yogurt covered). Sometimes add cookies (small ones) or mini cupcakes — the key with the special treats is not too much, not too often. Avoid candy bars, fudge and large cakes, which are tempting and offer no opportunities to portion control.
  • Pick-me-up, please. Mid-afternoon crashes are common for many people. The key is to get a boost of energy from snacks that won’t leave you with collateral damage down the road. Always keep whole grain crackers, veggie chips, pretzels, fruit and nut bars and similar healthy snacks available. Sometimes add fresh vegetables, cheeses or popcorn. Avoid sugary sodas and candy.
  • Feast without fear. Nothing brightens the office quite like a free meal. If you’re afraid “healthy” food will spoil the fun, consider some easy adaptations of old favorites.
  • Pizza: Serve vegetarian pizza or at least keep the unhealthy toppings to a minimum.
  • Sandwiches: Include whole grain breads, low-fat fresh deli meats and breadless options such as lettuce wraps.
  • Meats and vegetables: Provide baked, broiled and steamed options — nothing fried.
  • Desserts: Offer small, pre-plated portions. Avoid large self-serve dishes.
  • Beverages: Provide water and low-carb iced tea or flavored seltzer water. Spice it up with fruit smoothies (no sugar added).
  1. Make it special. If you invite them (and serve food), they will come. Host a Taco Tuesday lunch or a few rounds of BINGO along with snacks. For more ideas, check out the PCPS busy season fun calendar.

One more thing: promote activity, too. Encourage your team to do quick walks around the building —works great for one-on-one update meetings. Or try some indoor mini-golf or bean bag toss to get the competitive spirit going.

Healthy snacks will go a long way to motivate and keep your team productive during busy season. Check out these AICPA resource sites for other tools to build your practice during busy season and beyond: Small Firm Resources, Tax Practitioner’s Toolkit and Firm inMotion e-Toolkit.

Shelly Guzzetta, Manager- Firm Services, Association of International Certified Professional Accountants


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