Back to school means back to packing lunches! Or maybe you need inspiration for your own mid-day meals at work and snacks on-the-go. Mixing in a few fresh ideas to an often mundane routine can add excitement — and nutrition. Try a bento box, mason jar salad, or some other “sandwich free” options to show your lunchbox routine some love this fall:
PACK A BENTO BOX
A Japanese-inspired bento box is a great way to pack a variety of healthy foods and flavors. The general formula for these types of “samplers” is 1 or more servings of protein, 1 serving of carbohydrates, 1 serving of fruit, and 1 serving of vegetables. The options are endless!
Combine fruits, veggies, and a protein for a complete bento box meal. You can even include a small treat! We also love the cute toothpicks and garnishes you can add to a lunch in these types of containers.
Photo by Celebrating Sweets
No bread, no problem. And note how you can use baking or condiment cups as an extra divider for those “tricky to pack” food items!
Photo by The Nourishing Gourmet
This box packs in protein-rich foods like peanut butter hummus, eggs, and cheese for a lunch that will hold your appetite all afternoon.
Photo by Clean Food Crush
In Japan, bento boxes are made from rice and other leftovers from dinner the night before. This post contains tips from a Japanese blogger for putting together a traditional lunchtime bento box.
Photo by Chopstick Chronicles
Don’t have a bento box container? We’ve gathered a few options below, along with a some helpful (and fun!) packing accessories:
BUILD THE PERFECT MASON JAR SALAD
Mason jar salads are another healthy and filling, grab-and-go lunch. Just remember the basic rules – dressing on the bottom, and then layer other ingredients until full. Sometimes it works to have your lettuce and dressing touch, but we recommend erring on the side of caution. Put ingredients that won’t get soggy layered atop the vinaigrette with your crisp greens on top. Prep your salads on a Sunday night to have lunches lined up all week long! Here are a few recipes we think look delicious:
This is a perfect way to use up the “taco night” leftovers!
Photo by Pocket Change Gourmet
Can’t go wrong with a classic “Waldorf” salad, if you have the ingredients on hand.
Photo by Damn Delicious
This chef’s tip for a perfectly mixed salad is to invert the container for a minute to allow the dressing to trickle through the mixture before you eat from the jar or plate the meal.
Photo by Comfortably Domestic
This combination to chickpeas, a healthy grain, and creamy feta sounds absolutely delicious!
Photo by Cookie and Kate
Shop mason jars and more below! Most recipes are catered toward a quart-sized portion, but you may use a pint-sized jar for larger quantities:
MORE SANDWICH-FREE SNACKS
Take a break from ham and cheese with these:
There are so many different combinations of ingredients you can add to a tortilla to make a kid-friendly wrap. These recipes combine simple but healthy ingredients into wraps just right for little eaters.
Photo via Super Healthy Kids
Just add water or broth of choice to this make-ahead soup for a hot lunch that you can transport with ease!
Photo via The Londoner
These pizza quesadillas can be made ahead of time and stored in the freezer. Just take one out and pop it in a lunch bag, and it will be thawed by lunchtime.
Photo via Genius Kitchen
We’re proponents of creating little bits of summer all year round, especially when the “fall” is still pretty hot! This healthy and refreshing couscous salad is seasoned with lemon and basil and marinated with a red wine vinaigrette. We can’t wait to try this one!
Photo by Mel’s Kitchen Cafe
Now that you are loaded with lunch inspiration, you may need somewhere to pack these ideas! Shop a few of our lunchbox picks for adults and kids by scrolling below:
What’s your favorite thing to make for lunch? We’re always looking for ideas! Let us know what you pack over on Instagram @lolliandme!