Vending Machine Options

You have all heard me say how important it is to plan ahead for eating healthy. Eating healthy foods doesn’t just happen, you have to plan for it. However, sometimes you are left in a lurch if you just didn’t have time. A lot of you probably have access to a vending machine and they can be a convenient place to look for a snack. But beware, the choices are often laden with fat (especially saturated fat and trans fat), cholesterol, sodium and sugar. So what should you choose? Here are the best and worst choices when vending as well as a few guidelines for using vending machines.

Best Vending Choices

  • Dried fruits (or fresh if you are lucky enough to find them!)
  • Nuts
  • Skim milk
  • Whole grain cereal bars
  • Pretzels
  • Baked chips or crackers
  • Bottled water
  • 100% fruit juice
  • Tea (unsweetened)

Worst Vending Choices

  • Cookies
  • Candy bars
  • Chips
  • High fat and refined crackers
  • Sausage meats
  • Cheeses
  • Sandwich crackers
  • Soda
  • Punch
  • Whole milk
Vending Machine Guidelines
  • Make your own “vending machine” drawer at work. Keep healthful, shelf-stable items such as bottled water, raisins and other dried fruits, dry whole grain cereal boxes, trail mix, popcorn, whole-grain crackers, applesauce, canned fruits in light or no syrup and cans of low sodium soup on hand.
  • Some vendors are offering better choices. Know what is available in machines that are near you. It is best to take a look at them when you are not hungry so you can make a better decision when your stomach begins to grumble and you are caught without a snack.
  • Keep a log of when you use the vending machine and what you eat (include calories too!). This will help you be aware of what you are consuming. It may also help you plan ahead better if you see the same times and days being logged.
  • Give yourself a vending budget, and stick to it…both money-wise and calorie-wise! Try not to keep loose change around or limit the amount that you carry.
Emily Fonnesbeck RD,CD
Information adapted from