Let's Do Lunch Boxes: Healthy and Balanced Ideas
For many people, lunch was one of the more important moments of a childhood day. It was a chance to take a break and maybe even have a little fun.
Sure, today’s reality of having to put your lunch break on your work calendar is not exactly “fun,” but lunch is still a great opportunity to mix things up. Eating the same sad desk salad every day is a fast way to get bored of healthy eating, so this season we’re embracing the bento-style lunch box—because lunch boxes are not just for kids!
The Basics of Bento Boxes
The concept of a bento-box lunch originally comes from Japanese culture but has been embraced in modern times as a convenient and customizable meal. The compartmentalized meal can be endlessly mixed and matched with your favorite ingredients.
There are many leak-proof reusable food containers you can use to create these types of lunch boxes, or you may prefer a more traditional-style bento box to keep your food separate. You can also use reusable muffin/cupcake liners to keep food separate in one large container.
A high-nutrition bento-style box will ideally allow you to “eat the rainbow”—a colorful lunch box full of different-colored fruits and veggies—for a vibrant and healthy lunch.
How Adult Lunch Boxes May Support Healthy Eating
Bento-style lunch boxes don’t just look cute—they could be your new cheat code to healthy lunches for both you and your family. Here’s how they can help with your eating goals (as well as keep your kids lunches healthy):
- Bento-style lunch can help you get food from different food groups. A good rule of thumb with putting together a balanced bento box is to include a protein, a fiber-rich carbohydrate, fruits/veggies, and, if your eating plan allows, a small, sweet treat.
- Lunch boxes can help with portion control. With a bento-style lunch box, you include only a smaller serving of different foods. This can keep you from bingeing on one big takeout meal or other high-calorie lunch food. Additionally, the opportunity for versatility, not only from day-to-day, but from within a single meal itself will keep things fresh for your taste buds.
- Bento-style lunch boxes can be prepped in advance. The compartmentalized, reusable food storage containers that many meal preppers utilize to keep foods separated until they’re eaten are very similar to a bento box. You can also use leftovers from the night before as components of your lunch box.
Lunch Box Ideas to DIY
Your imagination is the limit when it comes to bento-style lunch boxes, but below are some balanced combinations of ingredients to help get you started making your own bento-style lunch box! Remember to include a protein, a fiber-rich carb, and some fruits and/or veggies in every box.
Strawberry Chicken Salad Box
- Arugula, sliced strawberries, balsamic dressing, pecans or walnuts, chicken or chickpea salad
The Italian Zoodle Box
- Zucchini noodles with pesto, cherry tomatoes, mozzarella balls, a handful of fresh berries
The Mediterranean Box
- Rolled turkey deli meat slices, celery, carrots, hummus, Kalamata olives or cucumbers
The Almost-Breakfast Box
- Greek yogurt, almonds, mixed berries, a small serving of granola bar
The Protein Box
- Hard-boiled eggs, cheddar cheese, multigrain crackers, a small serving of almond butter