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You are going to love these creative 8 Wholesome Lunch-Box Ideas for Adults and Kids alike, that go way beyond your typical deli sandwich! Use some fresh fruits and veggies when trying these adult lunch box ideas!

I’m full of lunchbox tips. Check these out: Six Quick and Easy Hummus Lunch Boxes, 6 Easy Pinwheel Recipes for Lunch Boxes and Make Ahead Lunch Box Ideas.

Contents

Easy Make-Ahead Lunch-Box Recipes

I’ve been working on prepping meals/ingredients/lunches/stuff for the freezer more and more lately and it has been such an awesome thing to have done and ready to use! I even had the chance to teach a meal planning/food prep class to over 30 women this past month and I loved it. I’m getting into a great groove and having more food conveniently ready in the fridge is a game changer.

What is it about the spring that is a total zoo? We have everything from the dentist and t-ball practice to the spring dance recital and baseball going on. Having healthy food ready to go in the fridge means that I’m making good choices, even on the craziest of days.

I do pretty well about planning dinner, but it’s a whole lot harder to plan lunch. I thought I’d take a little time to prep some awesome lunches and share them with you today. These are simple, wholesome lunch-box ideas for adults. Kids could enjoy them too but I had adults in mind when I created them. These are perfect adult lunch box ideas to enjoy on the go, at work, or even at the park with the kids. Real food never looked so good.

What’s the Key to a Great Lunch on the Go?

I like to make sure my grownup lunchboxes all use simple, real food that can be prepped ahead of time and stored in the fridge. This makes it easy to grab and go, and not be stuck having to choose fast food or something you don’t really want to eat (or worse, not eat at all!).

What’s the Best Way to Store and Carry Lunch to Go?

You must get some lunchboxes you love! These Easy Lunch Boxes are super great for my kids and myself alike. It helps you portion everything out easily, plus it makes clean up and transporting simple.

How Can You Make Meal Prep Easier?

I like to prep lunches while I’m making dinner and already have out my knife and cutting board. You can also do a big meal prep session, or you can prep a little as you go. Whatever is easiest for you! Check out all of my meal prep tips here!

Tips and Tricks for Making Adult Lunch Boxes:

  • The key to great lunches are keeping them simple, using real food, and making things that can be prepped ahead of time and stored in the fridge. All of these lunches hit all three of those things.
  • Get some lunch boxes you love! I bought a set of Easy Lunch Boxes when my oldest went to kindergarten so that she could start packing her lunch and we still use and love them all of the time. When I’m packing my school kids’ lunches, I’ll often just make three more lunches for the little boys at home. They love eating out of these cute boxes and I love that the work is done. I’ve now bought a few more sets of these and we still love them.
  • I like to prep lunches while I’m making dinner and already have out my knife and cutting board. You can set out to do a big meal prep session or you can prep a little as you go, it’s up to you.
  • Have you started making no bake oatmeal bites for your lunches yet? We are OBSESSED with these little balls of goodness.

Here are the details on the adult lunch box ideas!

Possible Lunch Box Combos:

  • Easy Pasta Salad (leftover pasta + chopped zucchini/red onion/tomato/bell peppers/ham + salad dressing (roasted garlic, creamy Italian, and classic vinaigrette are awesome in this)
  • Cashews + dark chocolate chips
  • Kiwi + blueberries
  • Hummus
  • Celery/carrots/bell peppers/broccoli
  • Crackers
  • Dried fruit (mango/pineapple/blueberries/apricots) + dark chocolate
  • Butternut Squash and Red Lentil Curry + brown rice (my favorite leftovers!)
  • Dark chocolate
  • Broccoli/radishes/tomatoes
  • Red and green grapes
  • Salami + provolone
  • Crackers
  • Radishes/cucumber/carrots/black olives
  • Raspberries
  • Apple and Peanut Butter “Sandwiches”
  • Blueberries
  • Cashews + almonds + pecans + dark chocolate chips
  • Boiled eggs
  • Carrots + celery
  • Egg Salad
  • Crackers
  • Black olives/celery/carrots/broccoli/radishes/bell peppers
  • Dried blueberries/apricots/pineapple + dark chocolate + almonds
  • Cooked Quinoa + Roasted Veggies + Chicken Breast (great with optional dressing on top, and I love the roasted garlic on this)
  • Red and green grapes
  • Pecans + almonds + dates + dark chocolate chips
  • Green Salad (all the veggies + optional ham/cheese/boiled egg). If I’m going to eat it within an hour or two, I’ll add the dressing before I leave the house. I’ll bring the dressing in a separate container if I’m not going to eat it for a few hours. Don’t dress the day you make it; it gets soggy fast.
  • Crackers
  • Blueberries + raspberries
  • Dark chocolate

Wasn’t that awesome and pretty painless? The noodles and curry are leftovers from a dinner and the boiled eggs and salad dressings can be made ahead of time. Even if you were whipping these up one at a time in the morning, they shouldn’t take more than a few minutes to put together.

If you are looking for other lunch-box inspiration, you might also like these posts:

  • 12 Healthy Lunch Box Ideas for Kids or Adults
  • 5 Secrets to Healthy Packed-Lunch Success
  • Lunch-Box Inspiration
  • Packed Lunch Ideas for Kids
  • Six Quick and Easy Hummus Lunch Boxes
  • 6 Sandwich-on-a-Stick Lunch Box Ideas

My favorite page on all things meal prep and food prep (lots of make ahead meal ideas!)

I am so excited for you to make and try a few of these wholesome packed lunch ideas for adults! It’s a simple way to get whole foods for lunch, even on the craziest of days

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Back-to-school lunch ideas: Here’s 15 healthy bento box ideas and inspirations. Also includes food safety, decoration tips and all you need to know about bento making!

School is now back in session. If you are a parent like me, you know how packing lunches for your children can be a daily challenge. That’s why bento boxes are the best solution for school lunches (and work lunches). In Japan, bento boxes are packed with care and love to accompany the little ones to school every day.

With the various smart compartments, bento boxes allow you to pack a healthy, perfectly portioned, exciting and wholesome meals. Bento making is almost like an art form itself. For the crafty parents and kids, you get to enjoy the creative process of putting lunches together. When lunch boxes are presented creatively, you know you never have to worry about untouched foods when the children come home.

The best thing about bento? You can repurpose weekend preps and dinner leftovers throughout the week. Since bento boxes are reusable and eco-friendly, you can eliminate the use of anything plastic too.

Here I’ve rounded up 15 bento box ideas and inspirations for packing healthy school lunches that could also work at the office. For beginners, there are many helpful guides in this roundup on how to pack healthy lunch, food safety, decoration tips and more. Let’s get started!

15 Back to School Easy Bento Box Ideas & Recipes

1. Bento Tutorial 101

New to making Bento? Here are some helpful tips and tools on how to make healthy and colorful bento for you get started.

2. Chicken Teriyaki Bento

Bento is just another effective formula of meal prepping, where dinner is repurposed into lunch the next day. In this bento, you’ll find leftover chicken teriyaki, pickled cucumber, apple bunnies, tomatoes, lettuce and furikake seasoning on top of rice – all laid out nicely for an appetizing lunch.

3. Cute Bento Recipes

Little kids can never say no to cute animal sandwich bento. You can expect their eyes light up when they see their favorite animal characters in the lunch box. Keep the ingredients simple. Choices like cheese, ham, eggs, fruits and cut vegetables are always popular. Better still, have them pack the bento together for some bonding and craft time. They will enjoy the creativity and the food that is made together with love.

4. Teriyaki Chicken Meatball Bento

Delicious and tender teriyaki chicken meatballs packed along with steamed rice, ham flower, fruits, crab salad, egg, and broccoli in a stylish bento box. This is a sure win for school lunch!

5. Soboro (Chicken & Egg) Bento

Colors play a big factor in enticing kids to eat their lunch! Made with ground chicken seasoned with the slightly sweet soy sauce, soboro rice bowl is a popular dish for kids. I like to double the batch of the chicken and scrambled eggs for dinner, then pack them up in bento for my kids’ school lunch. To add colors, don’t forget to include some fruits and their favorite vegetables like green peas, snow peas, spinach, etc.

6. Egg Salad Sandwich Bento

Have a busy week ahead? This simple and delicious egg salad sandwich bento can be ready in minutes! Just cook up some hard-boiled eggs over the weekend for quick assembly.

7. Sanshoku (Tri-Color) Bento

Beautiful bento tastes twice as good. The bright colors and artistic composition of this Sanshoku Bento will make the lunchtime the best of your child’s school day.

8. Gyoza Bento

Kids love dumplings! The good news is dumplings makes a delicious bento box idea. If you happen to make gyoza for dinner, save some for their bento box lunch. No time to make gyoza from scratch? Grab the frozen ones from Trader Joe’s! Even super parents rely on frozen foods once in a while. You can mix and match the ingredients from your leftovers and fresh-cut vegetables or fruits. Here we have gyoza, cherry tomatoes, blanched broccoli, tamagoyaki, cucumber, and furikake seasoned rice. When you have everything prepared in big batches for the week, bento making is a total breeze.

9. Tonkatsu Bento

Crispy tonkatsu is a family favorite that I make regularly. You can choose to shallow fry the pork cutlet or bake it for a lighter version. For the extra pieces, pack them into the school lunch box, along with broccoli, tomato, golden kiwi and oranges.

10. Piggy Spam Musubi Bento

This Hawaiian inspired Piggy Spam Musubi Bento is flat out adorable and super fun to eat. Don’t forget to throw in colorful vegetables and tropical fruits to the lunch box.

11. Cute Octopus Bento

This adorable Octopus Bento is very popular amongst the Japanese children! It’s easy to see why. Imagine the child’s reaction when he/ she opens up the lunch box and being greeted by octopus-shaped sausage, broccoli, grape, tomato, and seasoned rice balls.

12. Honey Soy Sauce Chicken Bento

Sweet and flavorful chicken drummettes bento with sautéed cabbage, Tamagoyaki, tomatoes, and fresh fruits. Enjoy with onigiri for a better-than-take-out lunch.

13. Karaage Bento

Japanese bite-size fried chicken with tamagoyaki (rolled omelette), broccoli, tomato, sautéed spinach, and onigiri rice balls all packed in a classy bento. This Karaage Bento is literally a box filled with your child’s favorite foods.

14. Onigiri (Japanese Rice Balls) Bento

Filling and nutritious, Origini Bento is a great snack choice for after-school activities. These Japanese rice balls are portable and they make lunch on-the-go a cinch.

15. Onigirazu Bento

Tired of the usual sandwiches or rice dish? Onigirazu (Japanese rice sandwich) makes a super fun bento box lunch! Again, tap into your leftovers and turn them into delicious nori-wrapped rice sandwich. Think Teriyaki Salmon Onigirazu, Spam Onigirazu, Bulgogi Onigirazu, Chicken Katsu Onigirazu, Ginger Pork Onigirazu and more.

Additional Tips on How to Make Bento Lunch Box

1. How to Make Bento Video Tutorial

This bento video tutorial gives you plenty of helpful tips and tools on how to make healthy and colorful Bento Boxes.

2. Side Dishes For Bento

The secret to a beautiful and wholesome bento is to add side dishes with various colors. Learn how to decorate the school lunch box with these quick and easy bento side dishes.

3. Food Safety Tips For Bento

There are a few important tips to properly pack your bento. Follow these simple tips for food safety.

More Delicious Bento Box Ideas

I hope you have fun packing bento for your children. If you are looking for more bento boxes recipes, click here to get inspiration! The key to packing bento is to switch up protein, grains, vegetables, fruits or healthy snacks, I promise your kid’s school lunch will never be boring again. Thank you so much for reading and till next time!

Japanese Ingredient Substitution: If you want to look for substitutes for Japanese condiments and ingredients, .

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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on September 21, 2017. It’s been modified and updated in August 2019.

You would be wondering by now about a Bento Menu. So I am going to share the ultimate guide of Bento recipes. This is the only Bento resource you would ever need!

Rice dishes

When Japanese people pack Bento/Obento, they often consider rice dishes as the main dish. So simply fill half of your bento box with Plain cooked rice, or in Onigiri rice ball form, or seasoned rice dishes such as Fried rice, Omurice, or Takikomi gohan.

For more different types of rice dish options, look here. Also there are many different variations of Onigiri Rice balls in terms of filling.

RecipeTin Japan explains very well about different fillings of Onigiri Japanese rice balls.

Pickled Plum shares a recipe of chicken filling : Chicken & Spicy Mayo

Chopstick Chronicles’ Salmon Onigiri and Miso Butter Yaki Onigiri are great too!

Main side dishes

Once you packed the rice dish, then choose one or two hero side dishes of Obento. For example in the Obento menu I shared recently, was Meatballs and Tamagoyaki. As I explained in the Obento rules, you need to choose dishes that can be well seasoned. And remember to thicken the sauce and coat well.

Also choose foods can be easily eaten with a pair of chopsticks. So it’s important that the ingredients are cut into small pieces already. For that reason, Just one cookbook Garlic Saikoro Steak ticks every rule.

RecipeTin Japan shares a delicious, nutritious and eye catching Asparagus roll with Pork.

No Recipes Miso Salmon and well seasoned with curry Curried Lamb Karrage go with plain rice so well.

Side dishes

Ok, then we choose one or two more side dishes considering different textures, flavours and colour. I have noticed that Japanese hero dishes tend to be brown in colour. So, I try to lighten up my Obento with green, red and yellow. For the side dish choices in my recipe collections, look here.

Also Just one cookbook Simmered Sweet Potato with Lemon is a popular side dish that Japanese people often add to their bento menu.

If you would like to add something refreshing, RecipeTin Japan Japanese vermicelli salad is a great addition to your bento menu.

Side dishes need to be well seasoned and marinated dishes are definitely great. For that reason, No recipes Marinated Japanese mushrooms is great side dish to add into your bento box.

Japanese Condiments for Bento Menu

Finally, the rice seasonings and Japanese condiments often added to a bento box are Umeboshi, Furikake rice seasoning, and pickled veggies. Umeboshi are particularly good as it has an antiseptic effect. So too has sushi ginger. Remember that we have to make sure the Obento does not go off easily. These Japanese condiments are not just adding colour or filling the gap, but also have an important job in the bento box.

If you do not access to real Umeboshi, which is salted plum, I shared fake rhubarb Umeboshi in a previous post. They are seriously just like Umeboshi. I could not believe it myself, and rhubarb, I believe is easily available world wide(?)

You can buy Furikake in packets but also it can be homemade. If you do not have access to the Furikake rice seasoning packet, look at my recipe. Similar to Furikake, salmon Soboro is great to eat with plain rice.

I would also add Shibazuke by Just one cookbook. Soon I can make it because I am growing one of the ingredients. I would like to share this in the blog in the future

Hope you enjoyed this post, and now have a better understanding of how Japanese people create delicious, nutritious and eye catching Obento. If you like the post or have any questions, please leave comments below.

Also don’t forget to follow me on Youtube, Pinterest, Facebook , Twitter and Instagram to keep up to date with all the latest happenings on Chopstick Chronicles. Don’t forget to use the hashtag #ChopstickChronicles so I can see your wonderful creations!

News Flash

If you don’t want to miss the latest recipes and news for Chopstick Chronicles, please sign up for our weekly newsletter as well. We are publishing our first book in May, and also I am writing a FREE ebook for my loyal readers as well. So stay tuned!

Do You Even Bento? How To Make A Simple But Adorable Bento!

Have you ever swooned at bento art? Bentos are Japanese lunchboxes or take out meals. They can be simple or they can be a child’s dream depicting landscapes (oekakiben) or favourite Japanese cartoon characters (kyaraben). I mean this is seriously gorgeous, competitive stuff. But did you know that even simple bento can be achieved with just a couple of tools?

For the longest time I’ve tried to resist the lure of the bento. Not because I didn’t like them. In fact I adored them. I became enamoured of them from reading Japanese cooking magazines when I lived there. It’s just that it can be somewhat of a competitive sport and a lot of people really get into them. And I didn’t have time for a bento obsession.

I make Mr NQN’s lunch every day. It first started out because he worked at a place that wasn’t near a lot of shops so it was easier. He also likes really expensive (hipster!) coffee so instead of spending $20 a day for food, he buys his $8 coffee and then it’s not so bad. I usually give him a sandwich and some fruit and some celery or carrots. I didn’t want to get into bento because bento can sometimes make you feel like your lunch offering isn’t fancy enough (or maybe that’s just me).

And then one day I found myself shopping for some Asian groceries. Wandering down the aisles I saw a couple of Japanese items. One was an egg mold to shape eggs into cute animal faces and one was an onigiri mold. Onigiri are triangles of seasoned rice with a bit of filling inside. They’re designed to be a snack in Japan and you can find them at convenience stores. A couple of them also make a great lunch too. They haven’t really taken off like sushi rolls have here and I think it may be because there isn’t a lot of filling and it’s a lot of rice and we tend to like filling. But if you make them yourself you can add filling. See what I did there? Yep I am a filling monster 😉 But seriously, I never ate a lot onigiri when I lived in Japan because I found that there was never enough filling, usually just an umeboshi plum or a thin layer of crumbled mackerel.

But these Dear Reader are pretty fabulous as you can put your favourite filling inside them. Just treat an onigiri like you would a sandwich. Instead of bread there is rice on the outside and using the mold was ridiculously easy! I wish I could send all of you a couple of molds so you can see them for yourself. Even better is that if you are cooking rice just make extra and use the leftovers from dinner for the filling! For example you have some delicious Asian beef or teriyaki chicken, set a bit aside and make an onigiri with it. It works with brown rice and red rice although I don’t think it works with Thai jasmine or basmati rice. Japanese Koshihikari is the best rice to use as it has stickiness.

And here’s a quick little video showing you how to make these!

And as for the egg, I don’t know who came up with the idea for making animal shapes out of eggs but they are a genius (probably a bento maestro). All you do is boil some eggs, peel them and then pop them into the mold and stick them in a bowl of ice water for 5 minutes (or the fridge but ice water is faster and helps if you only have two molds). And if your kids don’t get excited over bento food then I’m not sure what would excite them because they’re so adorable. What sealed the deal was that the egg mold and the onigiri molds were inexpensive ($2.80 and $4.68 respectively). Mr NQN declined the use of the Hello Kitty bento but instead chose his metal lunchbox instead. I’m not sure if he will show his colleagues the eggs though 😉

So tell me Dear Reader, have you ever ventured into the world of bento? Do you bring your lunch to work or do you buy it? Do you compare and swap lunches at work like you did at school?

Onigiri

Makes 8-10 onigiri

  • 1 quantity sushi rice (see below)
  • 1 quantity chicken or tuna filling (see below)
  • 2 sheets nori
  • 1/2 avocado
  • You will also need an onigiri mold* – these are inexpensive and can be found at Japanese stores or ebay

Two piece onigiri mold. A base and a lid.

Fill with a layer of rice

Then whatever filling you like

Then another layer of rice

Then press down with the “lid”

Step 1 – Take about two teaspoons of rice and using a teaspoon flatten down. Add a layer of the chicken or tuna mix and then flatten down. Then add some more rice – you want it to reach the level where the mold can press down. The tighter the better to keep its shape although the mold is remarkably forgiving.

Remove the “lid”

Turn upside down and press down on the flexible tab to release

Step 2 – Turn upside down and gently remove from the mold by pressing down the tabs. Take a nori sheet – there is one long end and one shorter end. Cut long strips that can fit around the triangles. Wrap around the onigiri – they should fit perfectly. You can also cover the whole triangle with nori which is good for brown rice to help keep it together.

Step 3 – Scoop out the avocado from the shell and slice thinly. Fan over the onigiri trimming it to a triangle shape. Wrap in cling film if you are serving it the next day.

Animal Eggs or Yudetama-Gokko

  • Small to Medium sized eggs (avoid extra large eggs). I found that the 600g eggs were best
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce and a fine paintbrush
  • You will also need an egg mold*

Step 1 – Boil the eggs for 5 minutes. Cool a little and peel the shell from the egg carefully. Place into the mold and snap shut. Don’t worry if some of the egg white comes out. Place the molds into a bowl of ice water for 5-10 minutes. Remove from the mold. You can draw in the features using soy sauce.

Chicken, corn and mayonnaise filling

  • 1 large breast from a barbecued chicken (you can also use poached chicken but I had bbq chicken and I wanted to make this simple), chopped finely. Can also use a 425g tin of tuna, drained
  • 1/2 cup corn kernels
  • 1/4 cup sliced green onion
  • 1/2 cup Kewpie mayonnaise.

Step 1 – Combine all ingredients together.

How To Make Sushi rice

  • 1.5 cups rice (brown or sushi rice)
  • 50ml/1.7 fl ozs. rice vinegar
  • 40g/1.41ozs. sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt

Step 1 – Cook rice according to directions. Whisk the rice vinegar, sugar and salt until dissolved. When rice is cooked mix in the sushi rice seasoning.

*I found my onigiri and egg molds at Zen Citi at East Village, Zetland.

7 no cook lunch box recipes that you can prep in under 30 minutes! These adult lunch box ideas are perfect for meal prep.

There is this notion that meal prep has to involve cooking…that is not necessarily true. I mention in my How To Meal Prep post that one way to meal prep is simply to portion out your ingredients, and that’s just what these meal prep lunch box recipes entail today!

Not only do these bento lunch box recipes require little to no cooking, but they are assembled in under 30 minutes…some in only 15. That is perfect for summer when we’d rather be having fun in the sun than stuck in the kitchen.

These lunch boxes

  • require little to no cooking
  • can be assembled in under 30 minutes
  • are full of fresh, healthy ingredients that will keep you satisfied

This post covers a LOT! Click on any of the links below to go directly to that section

  • Lunch Box Equipment
  • How to make a Bento Lunch Box
  • 7 Lunch Box Recipes
  • Jump Straight to the Recipe Card

Lunch box equipment

  • 3-compartment glass meal prep containers– for these recipes, you NEED a multi-compartment lunch box. I love these glass ones
  • I also own/like these EasyLunchBoxes 3-Compartment Containers, if you’d prefer plastic
  • these condiment containers are good for storing small volumes

How to make a bento lunch box

These bento box ‘recipes’ can be broken down into four main components:

  • protein- in the form of hard boiled eggs, cheese, deli meat, beans or tuna
  • veggies- lots of carrot and celery sticks here but salad ingredients as well
  • fruit- grapes and berries
  • carb- flatbread crackers, pita, naan bread or tortilla chips

For most of these bento box recipes, I picked 1-2 items from each category and assembled the boxes. Certain ingredients will keep better than others.

Tips for keeping these bento lunch boxes as fresh as possible:

  • You may wish to do a vinegar wash to extend the life of your berries; dry fruit as much as possible before portioning out
  • Keep leafy greens away from wet fruit or vegetables
  • Keep chips, crackers or breads separate from vegetables
  • Keep condiments in containers and add dressings right before serving

7 No Cook Box Lunch Recipes

1. Greek Pita Bento Box

With Greek salad, deli chicken, pita bread and tzatziki, this box lunch recipe is healthy, super simple to prep, and packed with delicious Greek flavor!

get the printable Greek Pita Bento Box Recipe here

2. English Muffin Breakfast Box

While technically this is a ‘breakfast box’, this recipe makes for a delicious lunch as well! Fresh berries and cottage cheese are served on an English Muffin and drizzled with honey.

get the printable English muffin bento box recipe here!

3. Tuna Protein Box

Like the popular Starbucks protein box, this tuna protein box is packed with protein, thanks to tuna, a hardboiled egg (the only thing you’ll have to ‘cook’ in all of these recipes) and cheese. Swap the grapes and blueberries for strawberries or more veggies and you can make this a low carb/keto box lunch!

find the printable tuna protein box recipe here!

4. Chickpea Salad Lunch Box

This chickpea salad lunch box is a delicious, protein-packed vegan box lunch (if you use vegenaise). Served with mini naan bread, veggies, and grapes.

get the full Chickpea Salad Lunch Box recipe here!

5. Spring Strawberry Bento Box

I like to think of these spring strawberry bento lunch boxes as fancy crackers and cheese. With candied pecans, goat cheese, strawberries, arugula and balsamic reduction, all served on top of a flatbread cracker.

get the full Spring Strawberry Bento Lunch Boxes recipe here!

6. Taco Salad Bento Lunch Boxes

Tons of fresh veggies in this one: crunchy romaine (which keeps surprisingly well in meal prep recipes!), black beans, corn, and a quick pico de gallo. Tortilla chips, shredded cheese and creamy avocado dressing round out this recipe.

get the full taco salad bento lunch boxes recipe here!

7. Vegan Bento Lunch Box Recipe

With hummus-stuffed mini peppers, fresh berries, trail mix and black bean tortilla chips, this vegan bento box definitely keeps lunch interesting!

get the full vegan bento lunch box recipe here!

7 No Cook Lunch Boxes Recipe Card

Pin Recipe 5 from 3 votes

7 No Cook Lunch Box Recipes

Course: Lunch Cuisine: Meal Prep Keyword: bento box, lunch, meal prep Servings: 4 7 no cook lunch box recipes that you can prep in under 30 minutes! These adult lunch box ideas are perfect for meal prep. Prep Time30 mins

Ingredients

Greek Pita Bento Box

  • 12 slices deli chicken
  • 1 cup tzatziki
  • 12 mini pitas or 1 full sized cut into wedges
  • GREEK SALAD
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes
  • 2 cups cucumber diced seeds scooped out
  • 1/2 bell pepper chopped
  • 1/4 cup red onion diced
  • 2 tablespoons feta cheese crumbled
  • olives to taste

English Muffin Bento Box

  • 4 english muffins
  • 2 cups cottage cheese
  • 2 cups fresh berries washed & dried see *
  • 4 tablespoons honey

Tuna Protein Box

  • 4 whole eggs
  • 4 carrots peeled & chopped
  • 2-3 ribs celery chopped
  • 1 cup grapes
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 8 oz cheese cubed
  • TUNA SALAD
  • 5 oz can of tuna drained
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons celery finely chopped
  • salt & pepper to taste

Chickpea Salad Lunch Box

  • 2 cups grapes
  • 4 carrots
  • 4 celery sticks
  • 4 flatbreads naan, crackers or rice cakes all work
  • CHICKPEA SALAD
  • 19 oz can of chickpeas drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise or vegan mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon dried dill
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 ribs celery finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup red onion finely chopped

Spring Strawberry Bento Box

  • 3 cups strawberries sliced
  • 4 cups arugula
  • 4 tablespoons balsamic reduction
  • 4 tablespoons goat cheese or cream cheese
  • 12 flatbread crackers broken in half
  • MAPLE CINNAMON PECANS
  • 3/4 cup pecans
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Taco Salad Lunch Box

  • 1 cup black beans
  • 1 cup corn kernels
  • 3 cups romaine lettuce washed and chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheese
  • 1/2 cup dressing of choice cilantro lime dressing highly recommended, see notes!
  • tortilla chips
  • PICO DE GALLO
  • 4 roma tomatoes chopped
  • 1 jalapeno pepper seeds removed and finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons red onion finely chopped
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon lime juice

Vegan Bento Lunch Box

  • 12 mini bell peppers cut in half seeds scooped out
  • 1/2 cup hummus
  • 1/2 pint blackberries washed and air dried see *
  • 2 cups strawberries washed and air dried see *
  • 2 cups black bean tortilla chips
  • TRAIL MIX
  • 1/4 cup almonds
  • 1/4 cup vegan chocolate chunks
  • 2 tablespoons sunflower seeds
  • 2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds

Instructions

Greek Pita Lunch Box

  • Stir together all greek salad ingredients. Divide between four bento lunch boxes.
  • Divide all remaining ingredients between bento lunch boxes.
  • Assemble ingredients in 3-compartment storage containers (I recommend these ones)
  • Store in the fridge for up to 4 days.
  • To serve, top the english muffin with cottage cheese and berries. Drizzle with honey.
  • Cook and cool hard boiled eggs (I used my Instant Pot). You can leave them with the shells on or peel them after they’ve cooled completely.
  • Stir together tuna salad ingredients and divide between containers.
  • Divide all other ingredients between containers.
  • Store in the fridge for up to 4 days.
  • Enjoy cold.
  • In a medium bowl, mash the chickpeas with a spatula or potato masher.
  • Stir in the mayonnaise/vegan mayonnaise, dill, salt, pepper, celery and red onion until completely combined.
  • Divide between 4 bento-style lunch containers.
  • Divide up the grapes, vegetables, and flatbread between the containers.
  • Arrange strawberries, arugula and flatbread crackers in compartments in your lunch containers. Use small condiment containers for the goat cheese and balsamic reduction.
  • For maple cinnamon pecans: toast pecans in a frying pan for 5-7 minutes, until lightly toasted. Add the cinnamon and toss; then add the maple syrup and stir everything up to coat. Allow to cool before adding to the lunch boxes.
  • Store in the fridge for up to 4 days.

  • Divide ingredients into four storage containers. Use a condiment container to keep dressing separate until just prior to serving.
  • Stir together the pico de gallo ingredients and add to the containers (make sure the pico is not touching the romaine).
  • Store in the fridge for up to 4 days. You may wish to bring an extra bowl to serve the salad in.
  • Stuff the mini bell peppers with hummus.
  • Mix together the trail mix.
  • Divide all ingredients between four 3-compartment storage containers.
  • Store in the fridge for up to 4 days.

Lunchboxes aren’t just for kids. Just ask anyone who meal preps on the reg and swears by BYOL (bring your own lunch): brown bagging it can help save some cash and keep healthy eating goals in check. One way to take your lunch game to the next level is assembling a bento box, aka the perfect solution for nailing healthy portion sizes for to-go meals.

Bento boxes are a traditional Japanese lunchtime meal, with little sectioned spaces for rice or noodles, a protein like chicken, fish, or tofu, and veggies (usually fermented). The set-up is perfect for helping track your macros or portioning out your food, which is a wellness win when your eyes get bigger than your stomach. Think of bento boxes as the Marie Kondo of food: making room only for what sparks joy—in this case, the most nutritious, filling foods.

If you’re ready to get creative but aren’t sure where to start, Japanese Cooking 101 creators Yuko and Noriko have you covered. The YouTube cooking duo is coming out with a book this month called Simply Bento with over 140 ideas—everything from low-carb recipes and sandwich bentos to bentos that can be compiled in ten minutes flat. Here, they give a sneak peek of four ideas straight from their book.

Keep reading for four ideas for creating your own healthy bento boxes.

Photo: Anett Velsberg-Tiedemann

1. Cauliflower Fried Rice Bento

Veggies? Check. Healthy carbs? Protein? Fruit? It’s all here. This healthier take on fried rice is made with cauliflower rice that’s sauteed with ground pork, but feel free to saute it with other types of protein or even go meatless if you want. Another great perk of bento boxes is that they’re super easy to customize to different diets.

Cauliflower Fried Rice

Makes 2 servings

Ingredients
1/2 large head cauliflower (or 1 bag/8 oz cauliflower crumbles)
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 clove garlic, minced
5 oz ground pork
1/2 cup frozen mixed vegetables
2 large eggs, beaten
1/4 tsp salt
Pinch white pepper
2 tsp soy sauce
2 green onions, thinly sliced
Benishoga (pickled red ginger), for garnish

For the fried cauliflower rice
1. Chop the cauliflower into very small pieces, enough for two cups.

2. Heat the oil and garlic in a large skillet over medium heat.

3. Add the ground pork and cook until browned.

3. Add the cauliflower and stir-fry for a couple minutes, until tender. Add the mixed vegetables and cook for one minute, then add the beaten eggs. Keep stir-frying until the eggs are cooked. Season with the salt, pepper, and soy sauce. Finally, add the green onions and stir for a few seconds.

4. Top with the benishoga.

Photo: Anett Velsberg-Tiedemann

2. Chicken Teriyaki Bento

Instead of opting for the sodium-heavy, take-out variety of chicken teriyaki, make your own and add your fave type of rice, like basmati, brown, or even cauliflower. Add your choice of sauteed and fresh veggies on the side and lunch is done.

Makes 2 servings

Ingredients
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp sake
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp mirin
1 tsp vegetable oil
2 skinless, boneless chicken thighs
4 to 6 shishito peppers

1. In a small bowl, combine the soy sauce, sake, sugar, and mirin. Set aside.

2. Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook for four to five minutes. Flip the chicken, reduce the heat to medium, and continue cooking on the other side. Add the peppers to the same pan and cook and stir for three to four minutes.

3. When the chicken is cooked through, add the teriyaki sauce to the pan and cook until the sauce is reduced and the chicken is coated in the sauce.

4. Cut the cooked chicken into half-inch-thick slices.

Photo: Anett Velsberg-Tiedemann

3. Quinoa Salad Bento

As it turns out, cranberries taste really great on top of quinoa, giving a little sweetness and complexity to the grain. Get your protein fix with rotisserie chicken (or tofu, if that’s your jam). A side of fruit will finish your lunch off on a sweet note.

Makes 2 servings

Ingredients
1/2 cup dried quinoa
3/4 cup chicken broth
10 green beans
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and black pepper, to taste
3 Tbsp pistachios, coarsely chopped
3 Tbsp dried cranberries

1. Wash the quinoa in a large bowl, changing the water three times.

2. Add the quinoa and broth to a medium saucepan, and heat until boiling. Cover and cook over medium heat for ten to twelve minutes, until the liquid is absorbed.

3. Meanwhile, in a separate pot, blanch the green beans for two minutes and cut into half-inch pieces.

4. In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, oil, salt, and pepper.

5. Combine the cooked quinoa, green beans, pistachios, and cranberries, along with the vinaigrette.

Photo: Simply Bento/Anett Velsberg-Tiedemann

4. Yakisoba Bento

Don’t be intimidated by the name—yakisoba is just a type of stir-fried noodles. Traditionally, this Japanese dish is stir-fried with a sauce similar to Worcestershire, but you could always substitute that for something like coconut aminos or any other sauce you like. Trying to keep the carbs to a minimum? Sub the noodles for zucchini noodles.

Makes 2 servings

Ingredients
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1/4 lb ground pork
1/2 cup shredded carrot
1 cup bean sprouts
3 green onions, cut into 2-inch long pieces
2 packages (5.3 oz each) yakisoba noodles
1/4 cup water
Salt and black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup yakisoba sauce
Aonori (dried green seaweed flakes), for topping
Benishoga (pickled red ginger), for topping

1. Heat the oil in a medium nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the ground pork and cook for one minute, stirring a couple times.

2. Add the carrot, bean sprouts, and green onions, and stir for a few seconds. Add the noodles and water, cover, and steam for one minute.

3. Loosen the noodles, season them with a little salt and pepper, and stir in the yakisoba sauce. Stir-fry for 30 seconds, or until any remaining liquid is gone. Remove from the heat.

4. Top with the aonori and benishoga.

Looking to get creative with your lunches? We’ve got some amazing bento box ideas that are balanced and healthy! Best part? They double as kids bento box lunch ideas, too 😀

A few weeks ago we posted some pretty amazing healthy chicken salad recipes. PLEASE tell me that you checked them out and have made one or two of them. There are some of the tastiest and easiest recipes around town and we can’t get enough of them.

Lately, we have been all about repurposing meals from inside our fridge and all about fun meal prep meals that you can look forward to eating all week long. So? We took our 4 healthy chicken salad recipes and turned them into bento box ideas that will make your taste buds dance every day during lunchtime!

What is a Bento Box?

Technically, a bento box is a single portion meal that you can buy at a restaurant or make at home. You will find bento box lunches on many Japanese and Thai restaurant menus. Our favorite bento box in Minneapolis right now is at Lemon Grass in Brooklyn. It’s so reasonably priced (like $12!) and you get so. much. food. A little bit of sushi, a little pad Thai, and a cream cheese wonton or two. These days a lot of people associate bento box meals with meal prep because conveniently there are lots of glass meal prep containers that have compartments! These are our favorite glass bento box containers. We love that they are glass, easy to clean, and that it is easy to separate everything you pack.

Bento boxes are also great for picky eaters! And those who don’t like their foods to touch each other 😀 Which is why we always tell people you can turn ANY of our bowl recipes on Fit Foodie Finds into a bento box recipe by simply separating the individual elements of the recipe into your bento box container.

How to Construct a Healthy Bento Box

You can make your own bento box lunch with all of your favorite things, but there are a few guidelines that we like to stick to when preparing our bento box meals to ensure that our bento boxes are balanced and healthy meals on the go.

Protein: Let the main dish of your bento box be a protein-packed item such as a buffalo chicken wrap, spring roll, sandwich, pulled meat, or even charcuterie! A good rule of thumb is to make sure your bento box includes some kind of protein so that you stay full all day long.

Fruits & Veggies: You can’t go wrong with any fruit or veggie. Whether they are cooked or raw, pack them in, people! We suggest using what you have in your fridge and what’s in season.

Healthy Fats: When looking to pack a healthy fat or two in your bento box consider using an avocado, an olive oil-based dressing, or even nuts and seeds!

Fiber: Get your fiber on with any of our favorite Fit Foodie salads! Some of our favorite bento box-friendly salads are Quinoa Tabbouli, Thai Chili Corn Salad, and Mexican Quinoa Salad. You can also pack in other fibrous foods such as nuts, beans, and more veggies.

Crunch: We love ourselves some crunchy tortillas chips, veggie straws, or gluten free crackers! If you have a favorite crunch, you do you! Almonds, cashews, and any other nuts are a great option, too.

Dips: Bento boxes are perfect for incorporating dips into your lunches because the containers keep them neatly separate from the rest of the elements of your bento box. Depending on what your bento box includes, we recommend anything from our Homemade Healthy Ranch to Vegan Queso to Roasted Red Pepper and Goat Cheese Dip to Green Goddess Dip to Cilantro Lime Avocado Spread.

Really, there is no right or wrong when it comes to making yourself a bento box. Just make sure it’s balanced enough to keep you full and satisfied. And get creative with flavor and ingredient combinations! You’ll never be sick of lunch again 😀

Pesto Chicken Wrap Bento Box

We turned our flavorful pesto chicken into a wrap by adding romaine lettuce and wrapping it up in a tortilla. Served next to some cherry tomatoes, hummus, and whole grain crackers and you’ve got yourself a delicious, healthy bento box lunch!

Get the recipe for the Pesto Chicken Salad HERE.

Southwest Chicken Salad Wrap Bento Box

Love southwestern flavors? Try our healthier southwest chicken salad wrap bento box! It’s made with a citrus-infused southwestern yogurt sauce and a little bit of hot sauce to top things off! Take your southwest chicken salad wrap one step further and dip it in your favorite salsa!

Get a recipe for the southwest chicken salad recipe below.

Cranberry Chicken Salad Wrap Bento Box

Our Cranberry Chicken Salad Wrap is a classic recipe made with a healthy twist! It’s very similar to Waldorf Chicken Salad, but made with a delicious yogurt sauce, a little bit of honey, and lemon juice! Pair your wrap with your favorite fruit and your favorite tortilla chip (our favorite chips are Siete chips).

Get a recipe for the cranberry chicken salad recipe here.

BLT Chicken Salad Wrap Bento Box

Please tell me you’re a BLT lover! This BLT Chicken Salad Wrap is so yummy and healthy too! The chicken salad sauce is so yummy and made with yogurt, a little bit of ranch seasoning (secret ingredient) and lemon juice! We love pairing it with our favorite kale salad and some tasty chips!

Get the recipe for the BLT chicken salad recipe here.

More Bento Box Ideas

  • Pesto Chicken Meal Prep from Fit Foodie Finds
  • Meal Prep Cilantro Lime Chicken with Cauliflower Rice from Fit Foodie Finds
  • Meal Prep Carnitas Burrito Bowls From Fit Foodie Finds
  • 30 Ways to Meal Prep from Fit Foodie Finds
  • 15 Healthy Buddha Bowl Recipes from Fit Foodie Finds
  • Mediterranean Vegan Buddha Bowl from Fit Foodie Finds
  • Instant Pot Moroccan Chicken Bowls from Fit Foodie Finds
  • Crockpot Honey Garlic Chicken from Fit Foodie Finds
  • Vegan Sweet Potato Tacos from Fit Foodie Finds
  • Keto Chicken Fajita Meal Prep Recipe from Fit Foodie Finds
  • Healthy Philly Cheese Steak Meal Prep Bowls from Fit Foodie Finds
  • Collard Wrap Bento Boxes from Delish
  • No Cook Taco Salad Bento Box from Sweet Peas and Saffron
  • Homemade Ranch Delight Bento Box From Clean Food Crush
  • Spring Strawberry Bento Lunch Boxes from Sweet Peas and Saffron
  • Starbucks Protein Bistro Box by No. 2 Pencil
  • Pico de Gallo Quinoa Bowls from One Lovely Life Recipe

    Southwest Chicken Salad Bento Box

    Love southwestern flavors? Try our healthier southwest chicken salad wrap bento box! It’s made with a citrus-infused southwestern yogurt sauce and a little bit of hot sauce to top things off! Take your southwest chicken salad wrap one step further and dip it in your favorite salsa!

    • Prep Time: 10 minutes
    • Cook Time: 0 minutes
    • Total Time: 10 minutes

    Author: Linley Richter Yield: 1 1x Category: Lunch Method: Slow Cooker Cuisine: American

    • 1 medium whole wheat tortilla
    • handful romaine lettuce
    • 1 serving Southwest Chicken Salad
    • 1/4 cup salsa
    • handful tortilla chips
    1. Place romaine lettuce on top of the tortilla. Then, add chicken salad and wrap tightly.
    2. Cut wrap in half and place inside of bento box.
    3. Next, add about 1/4 cup of your favorite salsa and a handful of chips into your bento box.
    4. Secure bento box tightly and pack for lunch!
    • Serving Size: 1/4

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