Checklist: 21 smart vending machine snacks

Let’s say you have three minutes, a hungry stomach and a stack of quarters.

Before you plug the machine, you’ll want to scan this “best foods to choose” checklist. We reveal that surprise! Some “healthy” foods are packed with sugar!

And guess what? Some potato chips are actually okay to eat…

Meals/Meal Substitutes

  • Wrap made with deli meat, low-fat cheese and whole-wheat tortilla
  • Turkey sandwich on whole-wheat bread
  • Low-sodium soup
  • High-protein nutrition bar
  • Instant oatmeal (ideally the lower-sugar varieties)
  • Chicken or tuna salad with whole-wheat crackers (look for low-fat mayo)


  • Edamame
  • Baby carrots
  • Almonds or peanuts
  • Nonfat yogurt
  • Apple, orange or banana
  • Pretzels
  • Dried fruit (check the sugar content, though…you’d be surprised how much is in a small bag of cranberries!)
  • Baked chips (especially sweet potato or veggie crisp ones)
  • Part-skim string cheese
  • Laughing Cow Mini Babybel Light Original (the red wax-encased rounds)


  • Bottled water
  • Vitamin-enhanced water (but look at the calorie counts!)
  • 100-percent fruit juice
  • Skim milk
  • Unsweetened tea

Notes to remember:

1. To hydrate yourself, water is always best. Start with a bottle of water before eating one item from the snack list, then wait 20 minutes. You’ll feel more satisfied than when you’re just eating.
2. Watch your portion control on chips and crackers; those small bags often claim to be two servings. Look for the 100-calorie packs or practice awe-inspiring self-control and eat just half a bag.
3. High-protein nutrition bars are a good option on days when you have no time to sit. The higher protein level and somewhat higher fat level will give you a feeling of satiety longer than a plain granola bar.
4. If you find yourself with a selection of different cheeses in your vending machine sandwich (a luxury, we know!), look for low-fat Swiss, feta or part-skim mozzarella.

Thanks to columnist Diane Porter, RN, for her input on this checklist.

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4 Responses to Checklist: 21 smart vending machine snacks

  1. i think that it is a good idea to have snack machines but I also think that the snacks should be a lot healthier and have a better variety and have a better advertisement so that we will want to buy the food, We have a snack machine at our school and it is not that healthy for us.

  2. Bethany

    These are all good suggestions, the only problem is that none of these choices are in the vending machines that are on my college campus. The only ones possible are water, and maybe string cheese.

  3. anne h.

    Well…… a LoCarb wrap is good-
    Deli meat with full fat cheese or cream cheese!
    Hold the tortilla, please!
    Since going LoCarb, and losing a ton of weight,
    I never leave the house for work without my
    trusty cooler packed with LoCarb goodies.
    Vending machines don’t sell alot of bacon!

  4. JillMarie

    Always plan ahead. I feel like I’m packing a picnic lunch.