Every so often I get requests for lunchbox ideas from those of you who eat your lunches anywhere but home. I refer people to search for posts from “Spring 2010 when I packed my lunch everyday for my internship.” I realize that is a vague response because those posts are hard to find! So here is a post summarizing my favorite lunchbox contents – all real examples from my working and on-campus days.
When packing lunches, I aim for the following:
- A balance of protein, carbohydrates and fats (I will still feel hungry if one of these is missing)
- Something vegetable (even if it’s just a few greens on a sandwich)
- Around 500 calories (it’s gotta fill me up!)
- A variety of textures, flavors and options (I’m so disappointed if I just have one thing and it’s gone fast)
- Leftovers (a big one!!)
- Nut butter
- Deli meat
- Canned fish like tuna, salmon or sardines
- Cottage cheese
- All kinds of fruit
- Whole grain bread
- Cooked grains like brown rice or millet
- Starchy veggies
- Nut butters
- Flax/chia toppings
- Olive oil dressing
My lunchboxes fall into a few big categories:
- Hearty Green Salads
- Fishy Salads
Depending on how hearty the entrée is, I start with that and pack sides of fresh fruit, a simple salad, a whole grain, yogurt and/or a dark chocolate : )
By far my most popular lunchbox item is yogurt – I find it so filling and it sits heavy in my stomach. I have never cared for deli meat that much, so I often pack yogurt as my protein item or top a sandwich with tempeh, cheese or smoked salmon. I am a huge fan of throwing some mixed greens in a tupperware with some pre-chopped veggies as a side salad. I often just drizzle on some olive oil as dressing to keep things simple. The greens wilt a little but nothing to spoil them. Making my own dressing is fun, and I do pack it from time to time, but it’s too much work for me to pack everyday.
Following are lunch examples and links to the posts for more information!
Tempeh and jam is one of my favorites! I just slice the raw tempeh and smother on a thin layer of jam.
Wraps are another fun sandwich alternative!
Hearty Green Salads
Leftovers and Mixed Plates
Canned salmon or tuna salad is a favorite. Prepared with chopped carrots/celery/peppers, a tiny bit of mayo and mustard and often, curry powder.
Sardine salad! Can be served with scoopers or on a sandwich
By far my all-time favorite lunchbox (literally) is this Built NY one.
- Stretchable (great for big tupperware)
- Smashable (ideal for the end of the day)
- WASHABLE (a must for any lunchbox)
While I’d much rather save the time of having to pack a lunch, I do love opening up a lunchbox and enjoying everything I thoughtfully prepared for myself the night before : )
I hope you’re now hungry for lunch!