The average vending machine snack is fine in a pinch, but the choices are usually severely lacking. Even in places where healthy eating is encouraged, like public schools, the machines are usually chock-full of nothing but junk food and can make up a significant proportion of what a student eats in a given day. So here’s an idea: forgo the junk for these healthy snacks that are just as satisfying.
While some specialized vending machines are used to sell some really crazy stuff, the machines we’re talking about here are the ones you see most frequently, everywhere from laundromats to bowling alleys. The standard lineup of vending machine fare is essentially canon at this point: potato chips, Doritos, Cheetos, Sun Chips, Snickers, Butterfinger, Oreos, M&M’s, Hershey’s bars, trail mix, and maybe some Nature Valley Oats ‘N Honey bars thrown in as a nod to health, even though they’re also loaded with sugar. None of these offer much in the way of nutrition, and clearly there’s room for improvement.
Unhealthy products in vending machines are institutionalized at this point. The laundromat employees aren’t responsible for curating the machine; the companies that sell the machines, or a third-party vendor, are usually the ones re-stocking them, and their offerings are generally quite limited. Champion Vending, for example, is one of the country’s largest vending machine companies, and their list of snack offerings is certainly wanting in the health department. This means that if healthy items are going to be stocked in vending machines, they’ll need to be offered by the vending services themselves. And the only way they're going to start offering them is if their customers demand them.
Those services can start by looking into stocking the following healthy products. Not only are they tasty and inexpensive, they’re also engineered with health in mind. And these snacks are perfect as more than just vending machine alternatives; you should also be on the lookout for them when shopping with your family, because trust us, they hit the same spot that a far unhealthier snack would.
Balance Bare Bars
Launched last year, these bars come in three flavors (mixed berry nut, sea salt caramel nut, and sweet and spicy nut) and are non-GMO, soy-free, and gluten-free. They’re also low in calories and high in nutrients; mixed berry nut bars, for example, contain 160 calories, four grams of protein, and three grams of dietary fiber each.
Blue Diamond 100-Calorie Almond Packs
The 100-calorie snacks that have been hitting shelves lately — from favorites like Hostess, Oreo, Chips Ahoy, and Cheese Nips “Thin Crisps” — are great snacking options if you’re looking to control portion size, but the actual nutrients contained therein are still lacking. A 100-calorie packet (about a handful) of almonds from brands like Blue Diamond, however, is all-natural, filling, and full of protein and healthy fat.