It’s that dreaded moment before your last meeting of the day – your energy level is at zero and you desperately need to be top of your game for these last few hours of work. You don’t have time to go and grab a bagel from that nice bakery down the street or drive to that hip juicery that sells green “power juice”. What are your options? Vending machine on the second floor or the ones by the washrooms? Maybe the McDonalds next door?
Ok, I’ll stop myself from preaching about the detrimental effect that the food offered in vending machines and fast food places have on your body. However, what sticks out more prominently to me is the price that you are paying for this junk. We all know that vending machines and fast food places are preying on moments like these; you are desperate and you need something, quick to get and to eat. You will settle for almost any price to satisfy your need for potato chips, a chocolate bar or a serving of fries, even though the markup for these products is often in the range of 300-400% of what you would get at the store. That doesn’t even account for the lack of nutritional value in these products.
So how do we save these upwards of $40 a week? It’s easy- be your own vending machine. Supply your own snacks that are not only cheaper than what you would get them for from the local retailers, but better for your health and aren’t just empty calories and fat.
We don’t mean Grandma’s Prunes (even though I think they are delicious!). You can find more and more alternatives to raisins and dates on the market now. From tart craisins to sweet dried mango slices to organic coconut chips that are roasted for extra flavor and contain no additional sweeteners, there’s a whole new world out there and it is full of dried fruit. They are portable, easy to keep in your desk, backpack, or purse, and give you that burst of energy that you need, and quickly! They are high in natural sugars so you won’t have to wait long to see the effects!
Nuts are nature’s powerhouse. Full of healthy fats, fibre, and minerals, they are not only good for you, they taste amazing. Though almonds have been applauded for their nutritional value in the last few years, other nuts like cashews, brazil nuts, walnuts and peanuts (actually peanuts are legumes but that’s besides the point) all have great benefits for our bodies and our energy levels! Just be careful with these guys because they are quite calorific and can be expensive, so portion control is key here. To bring down the cost, consider buying nuts in bulk or big packages and then repackaging them into snack-size portions.
Sometimes only chocolate will do. If that is the case, have an emergency tablet of dark chocolate with you as an alternative to candy bars. Because of the high cocoa content, it will taste more “chocolatey” and less sweet, and this richness will help you control how much you eat. Cocoa also has been proven to be good for the heart, so a piece every now and again is not so bad. Even if you have to spend a little more to get high-quality chocolate, think of how many vending machine chocolate bars (and calories) it is replacing! The value is definitely there- especially in the taste.
So when the clock strikes “afternoon slump”, stay where you are. You have a delicious, non-perishable snack at the ready, and there’s no need to spend your change on overpriced (and unhealthy) snacks!