Healthy Vending Machines – It’s all the Rage

In our health-conscious culture, vending machines can be seen as less than ideal sources for nourishment. And really, that’s accurate. But things are changing in that regard. Of course nobody wants tofu, broccoli & brown rice from a vending machine (except maybe in Japan); but the trend certainly is toward having food choices with less salt, sugar, and fat than previously.

   Apart from  the actual contents of vending machines, the outside appearances of vending machines are getting a fresh look that brings to mind more natural foods- even if the contents aren’t    raw foods, the new, colorful decor makes people feel better about their vending machine food choices.

At left is a photo of  one of the popular “Healthy” vending machines- the Healthy You snack, soda & entree machine. In essence, the machine is no different than any other junk food laden vending machine. What makes it stand out as somehow better for the consumer are the graphics and it’s content.

The outside of this machine features a colorful wrap that has fresh fruits all over it- kiwis, strawberries and citrus. It also has words like “healthy vending” and “good for you” in nice modern graphics.

So what on earth can you put in these things? Everyone knows that natural foods are more expensive and less convenient than the junk foods that are normally found in snack & soda machines. So you have to get creative in order to make a profit and keep it “healthy”. For fruit, diced pears, pineapples and and peaches in natural juices (not syrups) are a good choice- also dried fruits; for veggies, dried is probably going to be the best choice. Bags of dried carrots, wasabi peas, etc are acceptable.

If your healthy machine has a refrigerated food section, apple wedges are a good idea. Yogurt, cottage cheese, lowfat cheddar sticks & string cheese are great dairy ideas. Lots of protein, low in fat.

For more “snack” type foods, there is a huge variety of snack bars that contain yogurt, natural peanut butter, and sugar-free chocolate. Cereal bars with actual milk are very popular, as well as flavored rice cakes.

Most of these healthy machines include an entree section. Most of the time, the entrees are non-refrigerated, “top shelf” items such as cup-a-soup, Dinty Moore stews, etc. To give this a healthy spin, get the “Healthy Choice” microwavable meals, soups, etc. Almost every pre-packaged food you can think of now has a low-fat / low-salt counterpart.

Luckily, healthy drinks are quite easy to come up with. Coconut water is very expensive, but it may be worth it to include it in your machine, because it’s so popular that people are actually paying for it. Other more obvious choices are Snapple (“made from the best stuff on earth”), teas sweetened with Splenda, skim milk, orange juice.

Don’t get carried away though-  if it’s the only machine in the location, be sure to put some junky stuff in there along with the rest.

This entry was posted on Thursday, June 14th, 2012 at 3:00 pm and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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