Pharmacy Food Hacks: How to Find the Best Food Sold in Pharmacies

FEBRUARY 27, 2018
Have you ever been hungry while working at ClubPharmacy, needed to grab something to eat for your shift, and went out to look at the options and thought 'ewwww?'
When it comes to eating while working at the pharmacy, unless your pharmacy is at a grocery store, most of us know that the food we have access to is, how do you say, less than ideal? Slim pickins’? This is edible?!?
If you want to eat well in a pharmacy environment, sadly in most cases the adage 'failure to prepare is preparing to fail' rings oh so true. Meal prep is the ideal solution to ensure you have food you like, and isn’t laden with unnecessary calories that leave you feeling full of regret. However, sometimes, well, life happens: Well, fellow pharmacists, I have good news. I present to you know my top 4 'eat this, not that' Rx for satiety success that will satisfy your nutrition needs without breaking the calorie bank. We all have been in those situations where we’re in a pinch and grabbing just something is a necessity to function. You can have your cake and eat it too (perhaps literally) with these simple swaps for mastering the pharmacy food pantry based on what your needs are:

1. Caffeine Fix

If you haven’t had a ‘hunger pang’ for a jolt of caffeine, do you even pharmacy? While caffeine can be super necessary—er, I mean helpful—for maximum performance and efficiency as a pharmacist, there are some options that will load you up with more calories than a piece of pizza. Let’s take a look at a popular go-to, and my Simple Swap that will deliver that lovely jolt, sans calorie excess:

The Calorie Killer: Starbucks® Vanilla Frappuccino Coffee Drink
            Nutrition Content per bottle: 290 Calories (4.5gm Fat, 53gm Carbs, 9gm Protein)
The Simple Swap Solution: Monster® Energy Zero Ultra
            Nutrition Content: 0 Calories
2. Microwave Meal 

When you’re away from home at hours on end and you need something a little more than just a snack, look no further than the pharmacy freezer aisle: your complete breakfast, lunch or dinner in one solid ice brick. These are not all bad (watch the sodium content, however), but there are most certainly some common options that will blow your daily allotment of calories in less bites than the number of fingers on your hands. Here is an example, countered by a more healthful option that will surely satisfy without the added agony:
The Calorie Killer: Evol® Truffle Parmesan Mac & Cheese
            Nutrition Content: 460 Calories (26gm Fat, 43gm Carbs, 14gm Protein)
***The Simple Swap Solution: Stouffer’s® Lasagna with Meat Sauce
            Nutrition Content: 350 Calories (12gm Fat, 40gm Carbs, 20gm Protein)
3. Protein source 

Of the three macronutrients (carbs, protein, or fat), protein reigns king in terms of the most effective at curbing your hunger with the least amount of calories. With the intention of grabbing some protein, there are many shall we say 'booby traps,' where you not only get the protein you wanted, but you get bonus items: a high amount of fat and some extra carbohydrates for padding and protection! If you are looking for just protein and want to save yourself the extra calories for a sweet treat later on, take a look at this common 'protein' option, and compare it with a Simple Swap option to keep you on track:

The Calorie Killer: Lenny and Larry’s® Peanut Butter Complete Cookie
            Nutrition Content per cookie [2 servings]: 400 Calories (14gm Fat, 54gm Carbs, 16gm Protein)
The Simple Swap Solution: Jack Link’s® Sweet & Hot Beef Jerky
            Nutrition Content per bag [3 servings]: 240 Calories (3gm Fat, 21gm Carbs, 33gm Protein)

4. Peanut butter 

Yes, this gets its own category, because, well, it's peanut butter! Always be mindful of those you work with who have severe peanut allergies—exposing them to it would just not be cool. Unless you have an allergy, who doesn't love this spread from heaven?! As succulent and satisfying as it is, peanut butter packs an overly powerful caloric punch. That does not mean I’m telling you to avoid this amazing gift—instead, letting you know that there is an option sure to save you regret while still delivering on that terrific taste.
The Calorie Killer: Jiff® Natural Creamy Peanut Butter
            Nutrition Content [2 Tbsp]: 190 Calories (16gm Fat, 8gm Carbs, 7gm Protein)
The Simple Swap Solution: PB2® Chocolate Peanut Powder
            Nutrition Content [2 Tbsp]: 45 Calories (1gm Fat, 6gm Carbs, 4gm Protein)
This is one of my favorite go-to foods—you just reconstitute it with some water and it becomes exactly like peanut butter. It is powdered to remove the oil, meaning less fat and calories, still with all of the flavor. Not all pharmacies sell this—if yours does not, and you want in on this major life hack, Amazon has you covered
Big note: be sure to not only look at the nutrition info, but also the serving size and how many servings are in each package/container. For example, the Lenny and Larry’s® cookie may look not too bad at first glance, but there are TWO servings per cookie—that’s double the calories if you eat the whole cookie! I know, I know they’re good, but they have more calories than you may have thought. That’s just how the cookie crumbles 

Please hear me loud and clear: there are no 'bad' foods—restriction is not what this article is about. However, there are some foods that will consume (pun!) your daily allotment of calories in a shorter amount of time, likely to leave you feeling hungry and regretful of ‘what could have been’ (read: more meals full of more food). If you are looking to stay cognizant of your nutrition and food intake, awareness of these potential pitfalls with unwanted calories is the first step in arming you with the finesse and know-how to master the art of food in the pharmacy. If you have the time to actually eat, that is—what is 'lunch,' anyway?

Always be sure to follow your company policy on where and when food is permitted to be stored and eaten while working at ClubPharmacy.

Adam Martin, PharmD, ACSM-CPT
Adam Martin, PharmD, ACSM-CPT
Dr. Martin is a licensed pharmacist, having earned his doctorate of pharmacy degree from the University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy in 2012. He is the founder of TheFitPharmacist movement, which strives to empower pharmacists and pharmacy students to thrive in their careers by overcoming stress and unhealthy habits using science-based principles and unmatched support. His passion for helping those in pharmacy led to TheFitPharmacist Podcast on the PharmacyPodcast network, where he provides practical tips for staying healthy while working at the pharmacy, along with interviewing professionals in the top of their respective fields to bring their knowledge right to your earbuds. He merges his passion of pharmacy with the experts in nutrition through being the owner and nutrition consultant at The Diet Doc Pittsburgh North, with the company having over 25 years of success. Learn more and join TheFitPharmacist movement at