We’re a nation of on-the-go eaters who often rely on snacks to get through the day, according to a study from the Hartman Group. In fact, says the Hartman report, 50% of today’s “meal occasions” aren’t traditional meals but rather snacks or mini-meals.
“When the Hartman research on snacking came out, we approached it as a challenge to raise our game in helping customers make healthier snacking choices for themselves and their families,” said Heather Pawlowski, Wegmans vice president and champion of healthy snacking. “We made healthy snacks a company priority for 2015 and to check that we were on the right track, we did additional research last fall with employee volunteers. From all areas of the company, over 1,200 employees took a survey about snacking habits and 295 of them also participated in focus groups to discuss things like what makes a snack ‘healthy,’ the challenges they face with healthy snacking, and what Wegmans could do to maximize the appeal of healthy snacks for our customers. That employee input was enormously helpful in shaping our plans.”
The focus group sessions helped the company refine ideas about what attributes were most important
for a snack to be “healthy.” Here are the highest percentages of participants who ranked the following characteristics as either “important” or “very important” in a healthy snack:
- 89%: It should be made from whole real foods, starting with fruit and veggies;
- 89%: It should offer“good” fats and proteins, like nuts, yogurt, or hummus;
- 73%: It should have no artificial flavors, colors or preservatives and should offer organic choices, where possible
For more than 20 fresh snack ideas, check out the five-page “Power-Packed Snacks” spread in the Winter 2015 issue of Wegmans Menu Magazine, or see them online at wegmans.com.
“Snacking can help close nutritional gaps in your diet, reduce swings in blood sugar and lessen the temptation to overeat at the next meal,” says Jane Andrews, MS RD, Wegmans product labeling and nutrition manager. “There are a couple of caveats: The ingredients should be foods like fruits and veggies, whole grains, nuts, low-fat dairy and lean meat, fish or poultry. And the portion size needs to sensible so it fits within your total calorie needs for the day.” With those guidelines in mind, customers will soon see displays in the store calling attention to quick make-it-at-home ideas, like these:
- Banana Bites (mini-sandwiches, where slices of banana are top and bottom, and peanut butter is the filling in the middle);
- Mini Sweet Peppers filled with Fresh Guacamole;
- Wegmans Organic Greek Yogurt with Fruit and Granola;
- Organic Turkey Rollups, with a slice of cheese, and organic baby spinach.
Displays in prepared food areas will point out grab-and-go healthy snack options like these:
- Wegmans Organic Vegetable Barley Soup;
- Wegmans Organic Chicken Dumplings;
- Wegmans Garden Skinny Roll (vegetarian sushi).
In addition to signs and displays, stores will offer tasting and sampling events between now and early summer, so customers can try treats like the veggie snack cups, fruit snack cups, organic Greek yogurt with organic granola, cheese snack bites, organic black bean dip with sugar snap peas, and organic trail mixes.
And what if you’ve bought Family Pack size of Wegmans Orchard Trail Mix or Wegmans Get Wild Rice Chips, but don’t want to supersize your snack? Then look for WegmansPortion Bags, Pawlowski suggests: They‘re printed with approximate measurements in quarter-cup increments.