Typically when you hear “vending machine,” you think chips, candy, soda—essentially a whole lot of junk. But one Midwest-based start-up wants to change that by serving fresh salads via machine, making the healthy fast-casual trend even healthier, and even faster.
Farmer’s Fridge, which has been on Well+Good’s radar since the company’s 2013 launch, constantly restocks its refrigerated vending machines with fruit- and veggie-loaded salads, hearty grain-bowl options, sides of proteins, and healthy snacks. The offerings come layered in jars that give a solid meal-prep #goals aesthetic—and the meals start at $7, which is way less than many designer alternatives. There are currently 120 locations across Milwaukee and Chicago, but according to Fast Company, the company aims to double that number by the end of 2018 and bring easy, healthy lunch options to more people.
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Restocking so many vending machines with fresh, composed options (kale white bean Caesar? Yes, please!) that have a short shelf life—like shrimp and avocado—every day sounds like something that would be hard to bring to the masses, but founder Luke Saunders has the process down. Using an algorithm, Farmer’s Fridge is able to predict how much food to prepare—and anything unused is donated.
“We get a report every day that tells us exactly what we need to make for every fridge, and we make that to order: We’re literally chopping the lettuce as that number comes in, cutting avocados on the line. The whole business is built around making what the fridges need.” —Luke Saunders, founder of Farmer’s Fridge
“We get a report every day that tells us exactly what we need to make for every fridge, and we make that to order: We’re literally chopping the lettuce as that number comes in, cutting avocados on the line. The whole business is built around making what the fridges need,” Saunders told Fast Company.
Saunders’ mission is to first expand the salad fridges across the Midwest, then across the country. And with the success the company’s seen so far, keep your eyes peeled for a superfood-packed vending machine to pop up in a hospital, university, convenience store, or even a suburban neighborhood near you very soon.
Here are five healthy lunch recipes that will fuel your work week. Or, find out why it’s becoming way easier to get a great workout during your lunch break.
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