Taming the 3pm Snack Beast, Part I

Smart snacks to enjoy when a piece of fruit just won't cut it.
Taming the 3 pm Snack Beast Part I

There’s no worst time to be ill-prepared than when the snack beast attacks. Even the most organized among us — those who normally keep supplies of, say, string cheese, hummus and cut-up veggies at hand — can get caught short mid-afternoon. These are the times when you need something stashed away in the desk drawer or the glove compartment of the car.

So, we’ve nibbled and munched, tasted and tested, and narrowed the field down to a handy few. All of the snacks here come in under 5 PointsPlus® values, and a decent few of them have just enough protein and/or fiber to keep your hunger at bay for a little while. There were too many yummy options for just one article, so check here to see the rest of our picks.

Prices and availability may vary

Nutritious Creations Wafer Chips
Nutritious Creations Cookie Chips
We were skeptical about these wafers masquerading as cookies — right up until we bit into the Cinnamon Oatmeal flavor and achieved snacking nirvana. (We liked the Rocky Road ones too.) The creamy drizzle of icing gave it a decadent taste, and with 4g fiber and 3.5g fat these multi-grain cookie chips were much more satisfying (and a much better serving choice) than nibbling on an equal quantity of cookies. They definitely kept our hunger at bay for long enough to get through the mid-afternoon snack slump.

$1.99 per pack. Available at Smartsnacks.com, and limited health food and small grocery stores

Funky Monkey snacks
Funky Monkey snacks
These freeze-dried fruit snacks had a surprising heft to them — who knew banana could be so crunchy? We loved the Purple Funk flavor, with açai mixed in with the banana, as well as the cinnamon-y Bananamon variety. The 3g of fiber helped the snack stay with us for a while, even though we found it hard to eat these slowly. Bonus: With no added sugar, preservatives or color, these are kid-friendly too. Admittedly, it’s a bit pricey for fruit, but these do taste like a treat.

$1.99–$2.49 per pack. Available at Whole Foods, Super Target, Kroger, Amazon.com

Figamajigs Dark Chocolate Covered Fig Bar
Figamajigs Dark Chocolate-Covered Fig Bar
This definitely falls at the candy-bar end of the snacking spectrum, and is a genuinely yummy, filling, coat-the-teeth-with-chocolate experience. The raspberry and mint flavors appealed to some, but we universally loved the regular flavor. Fudgy and dense, some of us couldn’t even finish the bar in one go, and one tester said it reminded her of a chocolate torte — high praise indeed for dried fruit. Price and availability are a drawback, but they’re well worth the occasional splurge.

$23.85 for 15 bars. Available at Figamajigs.com

Ocean Spray Craisins 100 Calorie Packs
Ocean Spray Craisins 100-Calorie Packs
This sweet-tart snack has a little kick on the back end that makes them enjoyable, yet you wouldn’t want to plow through more than one pouch at a time, such as you might with 100-calorie packs of cookies. While the decent-size mound of cranberries won’t fill you up, it did still feel like a treat — albeit a healthy one, rating very low on the guilt meter. It was worth the 2 PointsPlus values simply because it served as a little snack in a healthful way.

$2.89 for a 6-pack. Available at grocery stores.

Progresso Light Home style Vegetable and Rice Microwave Soup
Progresso Light Homestyle Vegetable and Rice Microwave Soup
While these microwaveable soups have a PointsPlus value of 1 for one serving (half of one container), you can still eat the whole lot for just 3 PointsPlus value. There’s something about eating soup in the middle of the afternoon that feels more like a meal than a snack, so the satisfaction quotient is high — helped out further by the 4g of protein and 8g of fiber. These really don’t taste like “diet” food.

$2.59. Available at grocery stores

Pop chips
Most testers are die-hard soy chip fans, having given up on most other potato chip wannabes. But these manage to taste of potato (plus delicious flavors such as barbecue and mouth-puckering sea salt & vinegar) while still having a great crunch. They don’t disintegrate at first bite like many baked chips, and the smooth texture helps avoid uneven flavor distribution. With 1g each of protein and fiber these won’t keep you full for long, but they’re still a worthwhile bite.

$1.15. Available at Jamba Juice, Amazon.com and Target
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