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FireMadeFlesh's avatar

What are some high energy foods for lunches, that are also compact?

Asked by FireMadeFlesh (16593points) October 1st, 2013

I am going through some hard physical training at the moment, which has greatly increased my already large appetite. I am having large, high protein breakfasts and dinners (along with additional snacks throughout the evening), but I’m struggling with ideas for lunches. I walk to work, so I want something I can carry easily, but will save me from having to buy lunch. Buying my meals at work gets expensive, as there are no cheap options that are both high energy and worth eating.

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22 Answers

janbb's avatar

Roast beef sandwiches
Tuna sandwiches
Cold fried chicken
Italian sub type sandwiches

funkdaddy's avatar

Canned salmon with the peel tops have saved me more times than just about anything. There are 3 or 4 different types, if you like salmon, try them all. The only thing I look for any more is “boneless and skinless” because the alternative is picking out spine chunks. If you don’t like salmon, chicken, tuna, and shrimp come the same way. I love the tiny shrimp, but the whole can is like 200 calories so you burn through that pretty quick. Just take a fork, pop the top, and get busy. Instant lunch.

There’s also a ton of bar type foods that can be really good if you find a favorite. They hold up well, are easy to eat, and you can find different nutritional types, some are “protein bars” other are “meal replacements”, some are just candy bars marketed 15 other ways. You don’t want to live off of them, but they’re handy.

I also like oatmeal, peanut butter, and vanilla protein powder all mixed together with some milk or water, but everyone looks at me like this is the weirdest thing, so I’m guessing it is a personal taste.

gailcalled's avatar

Peanut butter and a high quality jam like strawberry on whole grain bread.

dxs's avatar

Something with cold cuts would work, though some people don’t like how they have preservatives. Also, try Greek yogurt that isn’t too fatty or sugary. Plain is the best. Pack a fruit. Those give you a ton of energy, like bananas or berries. Nuts are good sources of protein, too. They have more healthy fats than they do protein. I used to also cook breasts of chicken and pack them for lunch. To add to what @funkdaddy said, always look at labels. Watch out for Saturated Fat, Trans Fat (If that even exists anymore), Sugar and perhaps even Cholesterol.

livelaughlove21's avatar

I eat natural peanut butter and sugar free strawberry jam on whole wheat bread with a serving of fruit, like a banana. No need for refrigeration or a microwave.

Judi's avatar

nuts are high calorie but also high protein and carbs.

marinelife's avatar

Deli Ham or turkey or other meat

marinelife's avatar

@Judi Many nuts are not high in carbs. Almonds, peanuts and pistachios. Walnuts and several others. Sadly, cashews are carby.

Coloma's avatar

Beef jerky comes to mind. High protein, easy to pack along.
All the other suggestions are great too. Damn, I feel hungry now but it is bedtime. Quick….jump into bed before I raid the fridge. lol

JLeslie's avatar

Nuts and beef jerky came to mind first, those have been mentioned already.

If you want fewer carbs (I don’t think you mentioned being concerned about it, but since you mention protein possibly you are?) you can try to lettuce wrap cold cuts instead of using bread. Also, pita bread, the one with the pocket, not flat bread, will be less carbs than regular bread usually. Check the packages.

Slice of pizza is the walk to work old fashioned NYC standby. A NY style that you can fold. Cheese, veggies, and meat on top. Just pat of the grease if there is any to be sure you don’t get it on you.

Hummus sandwich on multigrain bread or eat as a dip. They sell it now with pita chips and the dip in a little package.

Egg sandwich or pita. Can be egg and cheese or egg salad. If you watch your cholesterol egg whites with onions and spinach or zucchini (I love zucchini in eggs). You can add a little bit of a strong cheese like parmesian melted.

Another suggestion for low cholesterol friendly is a bean burrito type thing. More like a wrap I guess that you can carry. Beans/legumes have lots of protein. If yöu use refried beans (you don’t have to fry them in oil) the “taco” won’t fall apart as easily.

Which brings me to, I have to mention it, because I always do, if you are increasing your intake of animal protein get your cholesterol checked. Especially if cholesterol is already a problem for you. Make sure you aren’t doing more damage than good.

Lastly, don’t forget that per calorie many green veggies have more protein than meat. Here’s a link with some numbers. That info doesn’t fit your question really, because the protein is not in a small package to eat easily on the go, but I believe it is much healthier. Maybe consider it for another meal.

gailcalled's avatar

Ingredients in various beef jerkies All contain MSG and sodium nitrite, very very bad things to eat.

Coloma's avatar


Yes, however, one could make their own without all the chemicals.

gailcalled's avatar

@Coloma: One could, but does anyone any more? I suspect that some of the deer hunters around here do make venison jerky.

As it happens, this recipe does sound very easy. The hard part is, I suppose, shooting, dressing and butchering the deer.

Coloma's avatar

@gailcalled My ex used to make a delicious beef jerky, slow cooked and seasoned/marinated steak strips. It is really easy. Just marinate for 24 hours or so, and slow cook in the oven for however many hours on low heat.
Forget venison, ick…where’s the beef? lol

gailcalled's avatar

@Coloma: Of course, you can get 50 lbs of venison jerky for only the price of the licence.

But you are right; this does seem very easy to make.

Paradox25's avatar

My jobs are usually very physical, and along with working odd shifts I need all of the energy I can get. Various protein bars have worked well for me, especially the Snickers energy bar. These protein bars are compact, easy to carry, and have given me a decent burst of energy that lasted for several hours.

janbb's avatar

A friend of mine who is a contractor also needs a lot of protein. He drinks Gatorade throughout the day to keep himself going between meals.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

Thanks guys, there are some great suggestions here. I am 182cm and 65kg, so I’m really not worried about carbs. In fact I think they are a good thing, as they help retain water. Peanut butter/honey, jam, and vegemite/cheese sandwiches are my staples for lunch at the moment, so I may have to move to legume, egg, or cold meat options.

For those of you who suggested nuts, how would you make them part of a meal? Or would you just take a container of nuts to snack from?

livelaughlove21's avatar

@FireMadeFlesh Either way if you’re not worried about your weight.

janbb's avatar

You could put them on a green salad or just take some to snack on.

KevinBradley's avatar

Pasta and tuna is very healthy, and as long as you are eating a reasonable amount of it you should get the caloric boost you need to make it through the day. It may be that you are low on some nutrient, which would suggest that you should take a vitamin pill in the morning or else be sure to eat plenty of fruit and veg.

For energy, look at potatoes and things with grain in them (breads, pastas, oatmeal, etc.) There are oaty breakfast bars available in the cereal aisle of most shops, and these can pack a punch if you don’t feel like cooking or lugging extra potatoes around. (There are also specialty energy bars you can buy at sporting shops, but these rarely taste particularly nice as they are simply meant to get the nutritional job done.

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