A teacher’s day is so hectic that sometimes eating well falls to the bottom of the priorities list. Between birthday cupcakes, quick lunch fixes, and the never-ending snacks readily available in the teachers lounge, living a healthier lifestyle seems impossible. Is it?
Teacher Cameron brought up this topic in the WeAreTeachers HELPLINE community forum. “My health is suffering a bit, and it’s highly possibly because I’m not taking good care of myself. Do you have any tricks to eating healthy while at work? At the end of the day, I find myself just stuffing my face with anything chocolate. I’m looking for realistic, teacher-budget-friendly, busy-running-around tips and suggestions. Thanks!”
Cameron, we’ve got you covered. Check out the top teacher power foods as recommended by our very own Helpliners!
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Starting the day off on the right foot makes a big difference. As hard as it is to do, get up just a few minutes early and eat a protein-heavy, healthy breakfast. You’ll notice a big difference in your energy level.
- Egg muffins—“I scramble eggs with spinach, goat cheese, and tomatoes—plus whatever extras you want—pour them into a muffin tin, and bake at 350 degrees for 22 minutes. Ever since I started eating these for breakfast, I’ve been less hungry throughout the day.” —Emily C.
- Oatmeal, fruit, and Greek yogurt
- “I start every day with a banana and a protein shake.” —Michelle D.
Mindfully planning for snack time is the best way to keep from binge-eating those sweets that seem to be so readily available. Think ahead and make sure you have plenty of healthy options available throughout the day to keep you going.
- Cheese sticks or cubes
- Smoothies—“I make a smoothie in the morning with spinach, whey protein, healthy fats, some frozen berries, kefir, and water. I sip it throughout the day, and it keeps me hydrated and meeting my nutritional needs.” —Grace T.
- Hard-boiled eggs
- Applesauce packs with diced fruit mixed in
- Wheat Thins with mashed avocado
- Roasted seaweed snacks
- Veggies—”I cut up a week’s worth of veggies, like cucumbers, peppers, cherry tomatoes, carrots, and snap peas, and store them in an airtight container. Each day, I just grab a portion and go.”—Jackie V.
- V8 juices (fruit and vegetable varieties)
Preparation is the key to success with healthy lunches. Here are some ideas that are easy to make ahead, grab, and go. In addition, two healthy recipe sites our readers recommend are eating well and skinny taste.
- Soups—”Occasionally, I power cook on the weekend and make 2–3 types of soup loaded with hearty, healthy ingredients. I divide them up into lunch-size portions and freeze them. They’re not only delicious and nutritious but also a time saver to prepare and eat—one bowl!” —Liz M.
- Wraps—Any combination of lean meat and veggies inside a tortilla wrap
- Mason jar salads—“Save even more time by prepping a week’s worth of them on Sundays!” —Caroline B.
- Rice bowls—Try brown rice, sliced black olives, chopped tomatoes, grilled chicken chunks, and avocado
- PB&J on wheat—a perennial favorite
- Wraps without the carbs—Lean lunch meat rolled up with cream cheese and a veggie, like a slice of bell pepper or cucumber, in the middle
- Single-serving cans of tuna served with multigrain crackers
Can’t give up the sweets? Find a balance between healthy eating and your cravings by eating healthy foods that have a touch of sweetness.
- “I like trail mix, fruit, granola with bits of dark chocolate, and yogurt whips.” —Jessica B.
- Dang coconut chips
- Dark chocolate squares or chocolate-covered raisins (our favorites are these from Trader Joe’s)
- “I always crave a small sweet after lunch, so I keep tiny hard candies in my lunch bag. I just pop one in, and it satisfies my craving without adding too many calories.” —Diana B.
OK, we know it’s technically not a “food,” but our Helpliners were pretty much unanimous in stating the importance of staying well hydrated throughout a grueling school day. Fill a large bottle in the morning and be sure to drink all of it before the final bell! Check out this model that tracks your hydration and sends reminders to your smart phone.
Teachers, what must-have power foods would you add to this list?