How not to be hungry at work: Desk Pantry 101

IMAGES: iStock, Cupcakes and Couscous

Dining with dignity at your desk

By 10 am, our Food24 team is already itching for eats. We start scrambling through our desks to see what treasures we can find. Today I found a tablespoon of chia seeds, 3 lemons and oats, not the worst it’s ever been, but certainly bleak for someone who forgot their lunch. This pretty much happens everyday. 

The solution: Starting a Desk Pantry, full of durable and delicious go-to options. The first step is filling up your drawer with a few of these staples.

work snacks, work, tips

1. Roasted Nuts
A handful of mixed nuts can hit the spot during an afternoon lull. Try this toasted espresso nut recipe on the weekend and double it up so it lasts the entire week. 

2. Dried fruit 
Goji berries, raisins, mango, or apricots hit the sweet spot when sugar cravings take over. Dried fruit is great with nuts and amazing chopped up and put into oats! 

work snacks, work, tips

3. Apples 
Compared to other fruit, apples have an incredible shelflife. All fruit is great, bananas, pears, and peaches work, but need to be eaten within a few days and shouldn’t be kept in your dark desk drawers if they are at all ripe. Be sure to wash them first!

4. Corn or rice cakes
If you keep your corn cakes in an airtight container they will last ages, if you don't they will go stale very quickly. A perfect base and bread substitute. 

5. Marmite or Bovril and Melba toast 
Any type of crackers will do with this savoury salty snack. Spread a little Marmite on a crispy cracker it's simply scrumptious. 

6. Olive oil and balsamic 
Almost every day someone comes up to our Editor’s desk asking for olive oil. It’s brilliant for a fresh loaf of bread with some of the cracked salt and pepper (that you’ll also have at your desk). Great for a sad salad that you didn’t dress ahead of time. 

work snacks, work, tips

7. Peanut butter or any nut butter
We love peanut butter on apples, bananas, toast, rice cakes, crackers, or just spooned directly into our mouths. This should be one of your top desk pantry staples. 

8. Salt and pepper 
Simple essentials to add flavour to your tuna or other canned items at your desk. 

9. Biltong 
A hearty portion of snapsticks or droewors is perfect for a protein pick-me-up, not that we wouldn’t eat all of it on the first day. Note, be sure your biltong source is fresh and reliable!   

work snacks, work, tips

10. Beetroot crisps 
A great alternative to potato crisps, veggie chips like sweet potato or beetroot will give you a little burst of sweetness during any mid-afternoon slump. Try these beetroot crisps at home

11. Tuna and a can opener 
Definitely keep a can opener at your desk. Tuna is versatile, can be added to your rice cakes, crackers or in a bowl with some salt, pepper and a drizzle of olive oil.

12. Sachets of hot chocolate 
With a variety of products, Nomu makes adding chocolate to your day pretty easy. They’ve got a Skinny version that is perfect for adding to your daily oats or mixing with your nut butter. 

13. Oats 
Bring the entire bag of oats and leave it at your desk. Make in the microwave or use boiled kettle water by using a 1 to 1/2 water ratio. For example, 1/2 cup oats to 1/4 cup boiling water. Add your sweetener/ fruit, cover and let sit for a few minutes until creamy. Add a tablespoon of milk if available.

work snacks, work, tips

14. Granola bars You can buy them, but we suggest making these no-bake nutty choc-chip cereal bars. The recipe makes 24 so you’ll have them for about 2 weeks, if they last that long!

15. Couscous 
All you have to do is measure 1/4 cup couscous to 1/4 cup of boiled kettle water. Drizzle 1 teaspoon of olive oil over, mix, and let sit, covered, without stirring for 5 minutes. Fluff up with a fork, add salt and pepper. 

This is only the beginning. Send us your clever Desk Pantry recipes!

ALSO READ: 5 Useful tips and tricks for packing a lunch that you’ll look forward to eating