Healthy lunch ideas bento box, packed with veggies and colorful fruits, are a must in every household. In order to save time and money, especially if you’re a busy professional, it’s good to prepare your meals and snacks beforehand. Although this is already a common practice among parents with children, vegetarians, and dieters, many people still do not realize the benefits of packing their lunch today.
Healthy Lunch Ideas Bento Box
If the same old sandwich lunches feel a little stale, it’s time to skip the classic standby and upgrade to the best bento box lunch. Bento box lunches contain a wide variety of foods in artful, cute arrangements-plus, the reusable compartments of a bento box help control portion sizes and let you skip all the plastic baggies.
To find the right bento box for you or your kids, first think about size. For older kids and adults, we like the PlanetBox Launch (Amazon, $70). This large bento made of stainless steel holds up to 7 cups of food and comes with a “little dipper,” aka an extra little container for dip or crackers. For smaller kids, the Bentgo bento boxes are a favorite and dishwasher-safe (Amazon, $28).
If you plan to pack wet foods, like watermelon or hummus, pick a bento that has individual lids for the compartments, such as the bentos from Bentology (Amazon, $13). The watertight lids keep messes to a minimum (i.e., keep your cleanup sane!).
For those short on time, the Yumbox bentos have the option of purchasing an extra inner tray (Amazon, $30). This way, you can prep two days of lunch at once and swap it into the bento instantly.
Now, the biggest question … what do you fill your bento with? Here are a few healthy non-sandwich ideas to bring a little more fun to the lunchroom.
1. Swap Carbs for Veggies
We could all use ideas for eating more vegetables. Skip the bread and use lettuce or thinly sliced cucumbers to wrap up deli meats, taco fillings or more veggies. Picking small butter lettuce leaves makes them easiest to assemble and hold.
2. Make Your Own Lunchable
Remember Lunchables? I’m embarrassed to admit how many I’ve eaten. But you can make a cleaner version by using naan or whole-wheat English muffins, tomato sauce, cheese and natural pepperoni. Get creative and add green peppers and mushrooms or your favorite pizza topping. Or make it on a whole-wheat tortilla, roll it up and cut into bite-size pieces. Complete the bento with veggies and dip, fresh fruit and a small treat.
3. In a Rut? Try Something New
Hummus and veggies may be standard for lunch, but try adding stuffed grape leaves, baked falafel and tzatziki to your bento for a Middle Eastern-inspired lunch. Many of these items can be purchased ready-made in the refrigerated sections of the produce department. Or try out some new recipes for dinner and pack leftovers for lunch the next day.
4. Skip the Takeout (Make Your Own!)
Save money and create your own takeout favorites at home. Make a Japanese sushi-inspired bento box (no rolling necessary) when you fill the compartments with rice, shrimp, avocado, edamame and cucumber salad. Or try a Chinese takeout-inspired bento box with dumplings or spring rolls, rice cakes, sesame broccoli and noodles. This is a particularly good way to use up leftovers.
5. Pack Up Healthier Nachos
Nachos for a healthy lunch? Sure! Keep it classic with tortilla chips, salsa, guacamole, beans and cheese. Make it healthier by skipping the sour cream and including fresh veggies and fruit, such as corn on the cob, tomatoes, lettuce, grapes and kiwi. Additional toppings could include cilantro, sweet potatoes, onion or jalapeños if you like it spicy.
5 Healthy Bento Box Lunch Ideas For Adults!
1. The Vegan Box
Try making a vegan bento box.
- ¾ – 1 cup of air-fried or baked tofu
- ½ cup of wild rice
- 2 cups spring salad mix with raisins
- ⅓ of an avocado, sliced
- Sesame seeds (for sprinkling)
- Grill, bake, or air-fry the tofu to your preference.
- Steam wild rice until done. Place in grain section.
- Slice avocado.
- Add spring mix & sliced avocado; sprinkle with sesame seeds (optional)
2. All Day Energy Box
Here’s a bento box lunch idea that’s perfect to get you through a long day.
- 2 cups of Greek yogurt
- 1 handful of raw, mixed nuts
- 1 cup of mixed berries
- 1 apple, sliced
- 1 tbsp of honey
- 1 scoop of nut butter
- 1 scoop of SkinnyFit Skinny Greens
- Add mixed nuts to yogurt and top with honey.
- Add mixed berries, sliced apple, and side of peanut butter to the remaining section.
- Mix Skinny Greens with water for a daily dose of superfoods, veggies, adaptogens, pre- and probiotics, and a boost of energy to get you through the afternoon.
3. Mediterranean Bento Box
Probably my favorite bento boxes for adults! The Mediterranean diet is regarded as one of the healthiest diets in the world, thanks to monounsaturated fats, healthy veggies, and protein.  Plus it looks as good as it tastes. 🤤
Ingredients (bento box)
- 1 grilled chicken & zucchini burger
- ½ cup of squash or pumpkin
- 1 cup of steamed broccoli
- ⅕ of a small onion
- ¼ cup of steamed peas
- Garlic and basil as preferred
Ingredients (chicken-zucchini burgers)
- ¼ zucchini, grated
- ¼ lb lean, ground chicken
- 2 tbsp ricotta cheese
- 1 ½ tbsp egg whites
- Seasoning, to taste
- Olive oil
- Use a cheese cloth to squeeze out all moisture from grated zucchini.
- Combine all ingredients with zucchini and form into a patty.
- Heat olive oil to medium heat in a skillet. Add patty and cook 4-5 minutes per side, or until chicken is fully cooked and outside will be browned. For grill: brush patty with olive oil instead.
- Neatly portion burger, squash, and vegetables into their respective sections. Place in a glass or BPA-free bento box for heating at lunch.
- Enjoy with a glass of your go-to vino 🍷 (See… I told you these were great bento boxes for adults!)
4. Bench Press Bento Box
When racking my brain for bento box lunch ideas (and testing them out on my coworkers… who were more than happy to oblige me, I’ll add), a common request was for protein-based options. This box stood out as a winner among the bento boxes for adults.
Ingredients (and protein)
- Thai Chicken Lettuce Wraps
- ½ cup of brown or wild rice (5-7g)
- 1 cup of brussels sprouts (3g)
- 1 cup of mushrooms (3g)
- 2 wedges of lemon
- Follow this amazing crockpot Thai Chicken Lettuce Wraps recipe
- Cook rice, timing it so that it’s ready when the wraps are done or almost done.
- While rice is cooking, steam Brussels sprouts and mushrooms together, 6-8 minutes.
5. Ode To The OG Bento Box
I couldn’t let you go without a culinary tip of the hat to traditional bento boxes. While not traditional per se, I may have stolen the idea from my favorite Japanese restaurant.
Ingredients (Bento Box)
- 1 salmon fillet (40g of protein)
- ½ cup of white or sushi rice
- 1 cups cabbage salad
- 1 small crab stick, sliced (or imitation crab meat)
- ½ serving of tamagoyaki (Japanese rolled omelette)
- 3 eggs
- 1 tbsp of milk (or soy milk, or plain yogurt)
- 1 tbsp of sugar
- ⅓ tsp salt
- Bake salmon in preferred style.
- Steam rice per package instructions.
- Individually separate salmon, tamagoyaki & crab meat, and steamed rice in their respective bento box compartments.
- Make sure your bento box container is glass or BPA-free for reheating in the microwave.
- Whisk eggs, milk/yogurt, sugar, and salt together until scrambled.
- Spread a thin layer of egg mixture into a greased pan. Cook until half done.
- Roll up the egg (Cinnabon™ style!)
- Add another thin layer of egg mixture.
- When half-cooked, roll again, starting with the original egg roll
- Repeat until the whole egg mixture has been used.
Note: you’ll have a fair amount of tamagoyaki left over. That’s okay! It will keep for a few days. This is a great bento box to make multiple servings of.