Looking for lunch box ideas? Look no further than this post featuring lots of lunch in a box ingredients!
Veggie sandwich / Yogurt and granola / Fruit with mint
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 lunch box ideas for adults – all real examples from my working and on-campus days.
And if you’re looking for ideas for kids who don’t like school lunches, check out my e-book with 75 kids lunchbox ideas (great ideas for adults too!)
Lunch In A Box Ideas
When packing lunches, I aim for the following nutrition information stats:
- 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 (peanut butter, almond, or sunbutter)
- 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 or chicken salad
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.
If you’re a big fan of meal prep, there are so many ideas! I would recommend having some pre-cut veggies to toss in like cherry tomatoes, carrots, or bell peppers along with dips like hummus or packaged guacamole.
Following are healthy lunch ideas as examples and links to the posts I ate them in 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
My Favorite Lunchboxes
By far my all-time favorite lunch box (literally) is this Built NY one.
Benefits of Built NY:
- Stretchable (great for big tupperware)
- Smashable (ideal for the end of the day)
- WASHABLE (a must for any lunchbox)
Lunchboxes For Kids
But for my kids I prefer a bento boxes! Truly ideal for both adults and kids, they are quick and easy to pack because you just use the one main container. I find bentos easy lunch boxes to wash too because again, there’s just one big thing to wash instead of a lot of tiny lids or wasteful baggies.
This is the Pottery Barn lunchbox we use for the kids. While the metal bentos are nice, I like the taller sides here for holding more of one thing instead of a tiny bit of a bunch of things. Sometimes they even get a surprise in their lunchbox!
Want to learn more about what my kids eat? Check out this post: What My Kids Eat.
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 : )