365 Lunch Ideas
To get started, click on a season above and scroll down to find a host of enticing bento menus. We're sure you'll find something that inspires you!
New menus are being added all the time, so be sure to check back often.
In anticipation of the upcoming holiday weekend, we decided to fill this week's bento with goodies that can be enjoyed for lunch, dinner or an evening picnic under the fireworks. Happy 4th of July!
This is one of those quick and refreshing lunches that can be thrown together in just a few quick minutes. Minimize the cost by purchasing your yogurt in larger containers and your dry goods from bulk bins.
We've got avocado sushi in our bentos! We love sushi around here and were very pleased to see it in our bento lunches this week. Accompanied by a green salad, orange slices and a cookie for dessert, this sushi lunch has gone straight to the top of our favorites list!
Bento lunches aren't just for big kids, so this week we decided on a lunch menu for our younger users. We combined bright fruits and veggies in fun shapes with yummy extras to get even those picky eaters out there chowing down.
Crisp, tart apples abound this time of year and can be prepared in a variety of ways. For many lunchpackers, fresh apples are a weekly lunch staple but, as the days cool, consider steaming your apples and seasoning with cinnamon. Add a side salad of arugula with Italian dressing, cherry tomatos, spanakopita, and cheddar soy crisps and you've got lunch!
This delicious menu is a hit all year round. The pasta can be enjoyed either warm or chilled, depending on the season and your preferences. The popcorn adds a delightful crunch, and the sweet juicy melon is the perfect finish for this savory meal. Great for adults and kids!
Great warm or cold, cucumber soup is perfect for the unpredictable fall weather, especially here in Santa Cruz. Leaving the house, we thought we'd be warming our soup up today, but by lunch time we were quite happy to have a cool, refreshing mid-day meal.
The end of the tomato season is always a bit hard to stomach, but it does mean that apples are ready for picking, providing a good excuse to pack apples and apple treats--like apple strudel. For a less caloric strudel, add extra apples and reduce the amount of fillo dough and butter. And be sure to pack a healthy portion of greens for your main course.
With summer nearly upon us, we're happy to see a wider variety of fresh greens at the farmers' market, and the arugula looks especially good right now. Pair this wonderful salad with some fat-free cottage cheese and crackers for a light and delicious lunch.
Sweet, crisp Asian pears were the starting point for this week's lunch menu. The combination of flavors and textures we put together were so dynamic that even our pickiest eaters finished everything... including their spinach!
This cool lunch is perfect for hot summer days. It can be prepared quickly, which not only saves time, but allows you to get in and out of that hot kitchen in record time. Refreshing and delicious!
Baby spinach is not only delicious, but it's packed with nutrients too. Prepare a simple salad with just a few ingredients, or go all out and make it fancy. Some of our favorite toppings include: avocado, red onion, cherry tomatoes, pears, pecans, radishes, crumbled goat cheese, and cucumbers. The raspberry vinaigrette tastes great on spinach and complements the berries packed on the side.
When was the last time you had a tuna sandwich? Although tuna sandwiches were a common fixture in many of our childhood lunches, we realized it’d been a while since we actually had one. Tuna is loaded with protein and omega-3’s which makes it a very nutritious food, so we hope you’ll join us in bringing back this oldie but goody!
It's official, school is back in session! To kick off a new school year filled with nutritious and creative bento lunches, we decided to put a spin on the traditional sandwich lunch. Our hummus sandwich and sunflower seed sprouts paired with the sweet tastes of granola crunch and fresh summer cherries will give your family the great mid-day tastes they crave along with a wealth of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to help you start the school year off right!
Create this mouth-watering meal for a delicious New Year's treat. The glistening colors and crisp textures make this a more-than-satisfying mid-day (or anytime!) meal.
Prepare a large pot of beans on the weekend to have on hand throughout the week. Pack them for lunch with a whole wheat grain (rice, cous cous, bulghar), a fruit, and some greens for a delicious winter treat.
In an effort to keep ourselves warm from the inside out, over the weekend we made a big pot of chili, which we've been recycling for lunches. Whether it's warm or cold, chili is such a comforting food that it quickly takes the winter chill away.
Early mornings can be a drag... But, not with a hardy breakfast on the go! With your favorite omelette, silver-dollar pancakes and fresh fruit, you are sure to feel full and happy throughout the day. This bento breakfast is perfect for morning flights, early hours at work and sunrise picnics!
This week we decided to put together some of our breakfast favorites for a festive bento brunch! We chose farm-fresh eggs, crispy tots and wholesome fresh fruit for ours, but we encourage you to mix and match your favorite feel-good breakfast foods in for a fun mid-day meal. Enjoy!
A meze is a combination of palate pleasing foods often served as appetizers at Middle Eastern gatherings. Like much of the region’s cuisine, the meze often features dishes made of fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes with a variety of spices. After having our own Middle Eastern feast for dinner last night, we decided to create a personal sized meze to enjoy today for lunch.
Last night we had Mexican food for dinner, so we decided to use our leftover beans and rice to create a bento fiesta for today's lunch. Although Mexican food is often high in calories and fat, keeping items simple and pairing them with fresh fruits and vegetables is a healthy way to enjoy this popular cuisine.
Do you like to snack? We sure do! In an attempt to satisfy our snack cravings, we decided to pack some of our favorites for lunch this week. We hope you’ll like what we’ve put together but feel free to change it up based on your own preferences. Happy snacking!
What could be better than a pancake? How about a thin pancake stuffed with cheese and fried to perfection? That's right... this week we made blintzes for lunch! Enjoy!
Cherries are in season! All winter we look forward to this time of year--when more and more fresh fruit becomes available locally and the colors in our lunchboxes really come to life.
Our new Bento System 2.0, when used with our new Bento Buddies, allows for a wider variety of container configurations that accommodate a broader range of food items. A few weeks ago we featured a Breakfast for Lunch menu using the original Laptop Lunches bento set. Here's another breakfast photographed in our new Bento Set 2.0, using the extra large container from the Bento Buddies set.
What is it that makes breakfast for lunch so appealing? Is it the decadence? The comfort of eating "morning food" in the afternoon? Perhaps it's simply the great taste. If you haven't eaten breakfast for lunch before, we recommend giving it a try. It's fun!
It's fun to change it up a bit at lunchtime by packing breakfast for lunch. Kids, in particular, seem to get a real kick out of this surprising change in their routine. Whole wheat biscuits are quick and easy to prepare, especially when making them with a friend or family member.
For those busy mornings when you don't have time to sit down for breakfast, take it to go! We prepared our breakfast bento the night before so that we could get out the door bright and early without missing out on the most important meal of the day.
Now that the cold and flu season seems to be knocking at our door and the holidays are right around the corner, we decided to make balance and nutrition king in this week's bento lunch. Here's to eating well and feeling great!
Consider keeping bulk dry goods on hand for those days when the fridge is bare. While nutritionally speaking this lunch is less than ideal, it certainly stacks up better than most fast food and processed pre-packaged options.
This cheesy, black bean burrito is deliciously filling and still happily healthy! Burritos are easy to make and can be filled with any assortment of your favorite, fresh Mexicana ingredients! The possibilities are almost endless with what you can create for your own Burrito Bonito.
While butternut squash is available from August through March, October is its peak month and is therefore an ideal time to enjoy both its sweet taste and health benefits. Butternut squash can be enjoyed baked, steamed, pureed, or grilled. We decided to cube and steam our squash which we enjoyed as a side dish along with pasta, Italian bread and sweet green grapes.
We were thrilled to see fresh organic strawberries at Saturday's farmers' market--a clear sign that summer is on the way! Perhaps less exciting--but equally delicious--were the heads of cabbage and bunches of carrots, which made this savory lunch a real palate pleaser. Enjoy!
Leftover pasta dishes are an obvious choice for lunch, but be sure to look beyond the oh-so-ordinary spaghetti with tomato sauce. Pasta is versatile and easy to make, and pasta leftovers retain their flavor well. Tangerines are colorful and deliciously sweet at this time of year--and perfect in size. The broccoli provides color contrast, nutrition, and a bit of crunch as well. And the whole grain crackers are wonderfully nutty, salty, and sweet!
Shake up your lunch routine with this "sandwich," a wonderfully crunchy alternative to your average PB & J.
This week we were thrilled to see cheese and crackers in our bento lunch! We chose Iberico which is a Spanish cheese but feel free to choose one of your favorites or try out something new.
Pack these flavorful chckpea burgers with some juicy cantaloupe, tender spaghetti squash and an applesauce muffin--and you've got a light and delicious meal.
The weather may be getting warmer, but chili and roasted beets still provide plenty of comfort at this time of year. And fresh fruit is always a treat!
Take advantage of every nook and cranny in your bento lunch box with this chock full menu! Green Salad, Rice Crackers, Fresh Avocado, a tasty Roulette, plus a dessert of Strawberry and Chocolate! Who could ask for anything more?
We can't wait to celebrate Cinco de Mayo with some fresh guacamole this weekend, so to hold us over, we decided to have avocado sandwiches for lunch! We kept our sandwiches plain but avocados are super versatile, so don't be afraid to get creative.
Enjoy this curry mild or spicy according to your preference. Balance the meal with some tart apples and sweet peanut butter and dark chocolate--a lovely meal for a cold, wintery day!
Prepare basmati rice. In a fry pan, saute in a small amount of olive oil until tender: julienned red bell pepper, chopped onions, chopped cabbage, green beans, and garlic. Add one can of coconut milk, a handful of fresh basil leaves, and some Thai green curry paste. Add fish sauce or soy sauce to taste. Mix the coconut sauce with the rice or serve separately.
Think soup has to be hot to be good? Think again. Chilled cucumber soup is one of our all-time favorite summer joys. With cucumbers now in season, it's the perfect time to give this dish a try. It's cool, light, and refreshing, especially on a sizzling summer afternoon.
As the winter continues on, we decided to put together a healthy, yet comforting bento lunch. Eaten hot or cold, this week’s lunch is sure to warm you up and keep you plowing through these final weeks of the season.
Now that the weather is heating up, salads are a lunch- time must. This week, we added pumpkin seeds and sprouts to some arugula from the garden. Crisp, cool, and seasonally fresh, this salad is sure to become a staple around here this summer.
The different tastes and textures found in this week’s bento lunch are sure to get you crunching and munching! Not only is this lunch fun to eat, it also offers a great balance of nutrition and is a breeze to pack.
We love the the sweet, tangy, spicy contrast between the curry and the tomato soup. For variety, dip your bell peppers in the papaya poppy seed dressing. Be sure to select pears that are firm yet ripe--for a crunchy, crisp finish.
Trying to get your loved ones to enjoy a rainbow of fruits and veggies? We say, "Let them dip!" Dipping is so fun and tasty that those veggie containers are sure to come home empty. Mission accomplished!
This refreshing lunch is simple to make: pasta, deviled eggs, red grapes, sugar snap peas, and your favorite dressing as a dip.
The easiest way to make lunch is to repackage dinner, so this week we decided to do just that and found ourselves in a win-win situation. Dinner clean-up was a breeze and lunch made itself. Did we mention that it tasted great? Who wouldn't want a lasagna meal for lunch?
Spring has officially arrived! In anticipation of some of our favorite fruits and vegetables coming back into season, we decided to have a brightly colored salad play the starring role in this week’s bento lunch. We hope you will enjoy this tuna salad lunch along with the first signs of the new season.
Pizza's for lunch! Need we say more? While pizza for lunch is a definite treat, we also included steamed kale and persimmon wedges to help balance the meal out, so enjoy!
If you're trying to get your sandwich lover to spread their wings, you might want to start with some fun, colorful, and unexpected sides. The different textures and tastes in this week's lunch might just catch those pickier eaters off guard and may even pique their interest in other less traditional lunch possibilities.
Not only is edamame fun to eat, considered to be a super bean, it is also a low fat source of fiber, protein, and iron. Edamame can be found in many recipes or steamed and eaten as an appetizer or snack. We enjoyed having edamame as the appetizer portion of this week's bento lunch.
This lunch is fun to make and fun to eat--and serves as a great excuse to make popcorn. The steamed carrot coins are a flavorful winter alternative to raw carrot sticks.
This lunch is fun to make and fun to eat--and it and serves as a great excuse to make popcorn! The steamed carrot coins are a flavorful winter alternative to raw carrot sticks, and the apple-cinnamon combination is a classic combo.
Now that the Easter eggs have been found, it's time to put them to good use! Deviled eggs are a fun treat, easy to make and a great source of protein which helped us balance out this week's bento lunch. Thank you Easter bunny!
Labor Day is coming up which, for many, marks the end of summer. This week's bento lunch was put together to make sure you'll be able to keep your energy up and get the most out of these last summer moments without skipping a beat, so get out and have some fun!
If you're a parent of a school-age child, then you're probably feeling the end-of-the-school-year heat--in more ways than one! Here's a quick and easy lunch to get you through one more lunch-making day! Ahhh... Summer vacation is just around the corner!
Now that the days are longer and our afternoon to-do lists have expanded, we decided that an energy packed lunch was in order. This protein and carbohydrate rich quiche proved to meet our lunch time needs perfectly. Paired with home fries, peas and a Clementine for dessert, this week's lunch helped us power through the afternoon and well into the evening.
The day the pizza met the tostada was a beautiful day indeed and this week we're celebrating that very marriage with pizza tostadas! Feel free to be bold when combining ingredients so you can enjoy the best of both worlds.
One of our favorite things about the beginning of a new season is always the fresh new flavors available, so we were delightfully surprised to open our lunch boxes today! We had both mahi mahi which is plentiful in the Pacific this time of year as well as blackberries that have just hit their perfect ripeness here in California. They may not be the typical flavors associated with fall but they made for one spectacular fall lunch!
The components of this flavorful lunch can be assembled into mini-sandwiches or enjoyed separately. They're colorful, light, and delicious!
It's so great to see fuyu persimmons back at the farmers' market again. This delicious and unique fruit is not only beautiful to look at, but good for you too. We purchased the sun-dried tomato hummus from a local restaurant vendor at the farmers' market as well, and picked up the falafel on our walk home. The tomato was plucked from our very sleepy-looking backyard garden, and the salad was left over from the day before.
Greek Salad with a Whole Wheat Pita Pocket stuffed with Hummus, Falafel, Olive Tapenade and Greens - Opa! Pita pockets are a fun and healthy meal on the go for all ages. The zesty flavors and crisp veggies will brighten your lunch hour and leave you feeling satisfied and happy!
The range of textures and flavors of this meal reflect the many faces of fall. The combination of the sweet yet savory yam pancakes and tangy salsa is a perfect match for any mid-day meal. Put that together with a crunchy, tart apple, and it's hard to beat!
This week we decided to beat the winter chill with a fall flashback lunch. With their warm, comforting flavors, our fall favorites never really go out of style!
This week's bento lunch is full of delicious foods that will leave your body feeling great! To cut back on the extra sugar, we chose to make our own granola, which was super easy and gave us the added control over what we put into our bodies.
As the Jewish Festival of Lights comes to a close, we decided to get creative with this menorah-inspired bento lunch. We hope you enjoy this festive bento as much as we did. Happy Holidays!
No time to stop by your favorite Mexican restaurant for lunch? No worries. Just take it to go! That's what we did this week and we will admit to enjoying every last bite!
When the chilly days of fall leave you craving comfort food, this lunch is the way to go. The protein provided in the tofu along with the nutrient dense baked potato and butternut squash will leave you feeling satisfied without weighing you down. A sliced kiwi brings a sweet end to this meal while offering a healthy dosage of vitamin C.
If you're on the lookout for a quick and delicious lunch for your toddlers, give this one a try. They'll love the colors, textures, and flavors, and it's nutritious too! In addition to the ingredients, you'll need just a peeler, a vegetable steamer and a knife.
This simple menu makes a savory and sweet winter treat. Steam the vegetables until they're cooked through but not mushy. When lunchtime rolls around, enjoy them dipped in the tangy-but-sweet lime cilantro dressing. The homemade pumpkin spice bread, baked in advance, provides a sweet, sweet finish.
This week's lunch packs a blast of flavors sure to please. From the savory tuna burgers to the sweet nectarines and everything in between, we hope you'll enjoy this lunch as much as we did!
Mark the transition from winter into spring with this lunch of many textures, flavors, and colors. Be sure to experiment with different varieties of almond butter: raw, dry-roasted, creamy, and crunchy.
The sweet, nutty flavor of butternut squash makes it an ideal vegetable for soups that can be enjoyed either warm or cold. Coconut brown rice, almonds, and crackers round out this lunch making it the perfect accompaniment to a beautiful fall day.
Monday's Food Day was on our minds when we put together this week's bento lunch. We're looking forward to celebrating real food and supporting this important movement with local, healthy and delicious lunches such as this!
With all the pasta choices out there, good old fashion spaghetti is often overlooked, so this week we decided to share our love for one of our favorite noodles. Served hot or cold, spaghetti tastes great and, in moderation, is a great way to give your body the extra energy it needs to get through the day.
This week we decided to use some leftover veggie patties to put together a quick and easy bento lunch. We just stacked our patty onto a slice of bread and piled it with some of our favorite accompaniments. To make sure our burger would be easy to enjoy at work, we stuck with only one slice of bread which made it perfectly fork-able.
Ravioli is easy to prepare and, with the seemingly endless combination of fillings and toppings, is sure to be a hit amongst the entire family. We served our four-cheese ravioli with a fresh green salad, oranges and chocolate squares for dessert, which made for quite the lunch time treat.
Like to nibble? This could be just the lunch for you. It represents the many colors of the rainbow and incorporates a wide variety of flavors, textures, and shapes. Plus, it's packed with nutrition and very easy to make!
Frittatas are delicious, and they're great for using up whatever vegetables you happen to have on hand. Be sure to include lots of fresh herbs as well. Don't be intimidated by the Caesar salad. Instead check out this simple recipe.
To keep lunch time interesting, we decided to combine it with tea time in this week's bento lunch. It's easy - just grab some of your favorite noshes, a glass of tea and enjoy!
The Bento Buddies extra large container is perfect for a nice, big summer fruit salad. We've used strawberries, blueberries and an heirloom melon from the farmers' market here, but any combo of fresh seasonal fruit will do. We like to add a bit of fresh orange juice for additional juice and flavor. Enjoy separately or mix the three items together at mealtime.
Is your body craving comfort food and warmth to combat the chill in the air? If so, you'll love the veggie loaf in this week's bento lunch! It’s filling and loaded with the veggies your body needs. The juicy orange and blueberry-coated pretzels provide a tangy-sweet finish to this delicious bento meal, and the rainbow colors can’t be beat!
We decided to keep things basic this week and packed a sandwich for lunch. Whole wheat molasses bread and some of our favorite garden vegetables helped us keep this lunchtime staple both tasty and nutritious. We paired our garden sandwich with a crisp apple, sesame sticks, and oatmeal cookies which made for a deliciously well-rounded meal that everyone enjoyed.
We picked up some organic broccolini and juicy tangerines at the farmers' market on Saturday. We sauteed the broccolini lightly and placed it on a bed of whole wheat couscous (purchased from the bulk bin section of our local natural foods store) for a simple--yet delicious--main course.
There's nothing like cool gazpacho made from fresh summer tomotoes, peppers, cucumbers, onions, and herbs. For added variety and zest, pack it together with sesame noodles, crisp tart apples, and a bulgur salad.
Looking for gluten-free lunch ideas? If so, here's one delicious lunch that's very easy to throw together from leftovers.
With the holidays right around the corner it's hard not to feel a little nuts, so we've decided to honor our nuttiness in this week's bento lunch. Seeds and nuts are filled with protein, antioxidants, fiber, and omega-3's, so they're actually a great way to keep your body going throughout the holiday season.
If you're facing a stressful day at school or work, this is the lunch for you. Bananas play a starring role in this meal and their unique make up will help boost your energy, reduce your stress level and lighten your mood. All that and you get lemon cookies for dessert! How could your day not turn out great?
Our bento lunch box isn't just for the weekdays. This lunch is perfect for weekend picnics at the park, trips to the beach or for a walk through the woods. This easy gourmet lunch brings luxury to your outdoor adventures.
This simple grab 'n go lunch takes five minutes to prepare. Having a busy week? Give it a try!
This lunch is perfect for an early or mid-summer morning when you're in a rush and don't have much in the kitchen. It takes less than 5 minutes to add a handful of each of the following ingredients as you're running for the door.
If you ever dream you're sitting on a beach in the Mediterranean instead of the office, you're going to love this week's bento lunch! We've put together a sampling of some of our favorite Greek snacks, sure to be the perfect complement to those office daydreams!
If you're looking to pack something more exciting than peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, consider giving this lunch a try. It may seem a bit exotic, but it's really, really good!
We put this lunch together after returning from a trip to the farmers' market. We were lucky enough to find these tender baby cabbages, which we seared to perfection. We then added a number of other items to "round out" the lunch.
Although the basic grilled cheese sandwich is often overlooked for more complex versions, there is something very comforting about it in its original form. We were pleasantly surprised when we found a grilled cheese, coleslaw and root vegetable chips in our lunchbox today.
Grilled paninis seem to be all the rage these days. Pack them full of vegetables, and grill them in a very small amount of olive oil. Don't be discouraged if you don't happen to own a panini grill. Use a waffle iron or grill them in a large skillet with a heavy, smaller skillet on top. (Place a full tea kettle in the top skillet for extra weight.)
After satisfying our sweet tooth with Halloween goodies, we decided to make fruits and veggies the stars of this afternoon's meal. To keep this nutritious meal fun and satisfying, we put together small portions of a variety of good for us foods and included a little ranch for some dipping goodness.
Traditional Hanukkah menus often include latkes as a way to symbolize the drop of oil that burned for 8 days and 8 nights following the rededication of the holy temple. Over the years, these traditional potato pancakes have evolved to become extremely versatile and can now be found in a number of variations. Although there are many options available, we decided to keep our latkes traditional and served them with sour cream and apple berry sauce as part of this fun and tasty holiday lunch.
A healthy, well-balanced lunch is a great way to enjoy the season’s treats without completely overdoing it. We packed this bento lunch using some of the healthier items left over from our recent gathering, which made putting it together a breeze and left us feeling ready to take on the rest of our day.
With the spotlight on heart health this month, we decided to fill our bento box with some delicious heart healthy foods. Combined with a suitable exercise regimen, eating nutritious meals both at home and on the go is a great leap toward overall long term health.
Now that the weather has cooled, it's a great time to hit the trails which is exactly what we did over the weekend. To keep our bodies fueled, we brought along our bento lunches with some of our favorite on the trail snacks. We're so happy to have a full season of fun hikes and picnics to look forward to! Happy fall!
After indulging a little over the holiday weekend, it felt great to get back on track with this week's wholesome bento lunch. Here's to a happy, well-balanced holiday season!
Ready set go... and keep on going and going and going! Yes it's that time of year when everyone seems to be hustling around trying to enjoy all that the season has to offer! To help keep you going, we decided to put together a bento lunch full of vitamins, nutrients, and antioxidants sure to give you that extra needed boost for those extra busy days.
Looking to stretch your lunch dollar? Try making a big batch of lentil soup and letting it stretch into your lunch making week. That's exactly what we did this week and have been able to put together several well-balanced lunches such as this. Easy, cost-effective and nutritious... a definite home run lunch!
Short on time? This lunch should fit the bill. Prepare the salad and potatoes tonight, and you'll have them on hand to drop into your lunch box tomorrow morning.
The first thing we said after opening this week's bento lunch was, "It's a pizza pie!" That's right... it's not just a slice of pizza; it's a pizza pie and it's delicious! Paired with peas and sweet kiwi, this lunch is the perfect summertime treat.
Stuck in a sandwich rut? We recommend wrapping it up! Sandwich wraps are extremely versatile and can be quite delicious. Whether you throw in leftovers, follow a recipe, or create your own signature wrap, we hope you'll enjoy this sandwich alternative.
Chilled Japanese soba is a wonderful summer treat. Top with chopped scallions and serve a dipping sauce on the side. Add some local fruits and vegetables for nutrition and color and you've got a deliciously simple lunch.
Yaki soba is an easy-to-prepare one-dish meal. Make it for dinner and set aside enough to pack for lunch the following day.
This week we chose to have a sandwich for lunch but kept things interesting by pairing it with sautéed veggies, fresh berries from the garden and mini pretzels. Enjoy!
Move over Jolly Green Giant, this week, we've got giant white beans in our bento lunch! Paired with a seaweed salad and a giant carrot muffin, this week's lunch left us feeling quite jolly!
Two of our favorite things about the summer have come together this week to make one amazing bento lunch! Using fresh veggies from our garden to enhance some of our barbecue favorites made for the ultimate summertime meal.
Traveling this summer? Remember to pack a bento so you won't have to settle for fast food or overpriced on-the-go meals. Here's one example for keeping it simple, delicious, and fun. And don't forget to use your bento box as a reusable take-out or "doggy bag" container when you're out seeing the world!
A typical North American diet relies heavily on wheat and rice, but it doesn't have to be that way. When packing lunch, don't forget to look "outside the box" for other interesting and nutritous alternatives. Next time you shop for groceries, consider purchasing kasha (Russian for 'buckweat groats'), amaranth, quinoa, millet, polenta, and pearl barley.
We had some great leftovers that we decided to throw together for lunch this week. Our outcome... a well-balanced, nutritious and delicious lunch that we were able to put together in a few short minutes. What could be better?
Pack your leftover lasagne from last night's dinner. Consider updating your favorite recipe by using whole wheat noodles, eliminating the meat, reducing the amount of cheese, using lowfat cheese, and including a layer or two of spinach or sauteed vegetables.
It's clear that fall is upon us, but here in California we can still find a few of our summertime favorites at the farmers' market. This weekend, market shoppers were sure to get their fill of summer's remaining bounty. We were happy to get our hands on some delicious blueberries and green beans for this week's bento lunch.
The holidays may be over but we're still hooked on fun (yet healthy) holiday food, so we've put some of our favorites from the appetizer table into this week's bento box. We topped off our appetizer spread with some homemade thumbprint cookies to make sure we were fully satisfied with holiday goodness as we ease back into our daily routines.
Expecting some heat this summer? Toting this fresh, colorful lunch will surely cool you down during the hot summer months. Soft goat cheese makes a delicious dip for bread sticks, carrots, and green beans, and juicy watermelon is a delicious finish to any fresh meal. Need we say more?
For this week's bento lunch, we decided to give one of our classic favorites, the grilled cheese, a little makeover. Less bread and a healthy serving of veggies made this sandwich a new favorite!
Macaroni and cheese may not be the most nutritious choice, but preparing it from scratch provides an opportunity to have fun and add value to an otherwise starchy meal. Select whole wheat pasta, use lowfat milk and cheese, and add some fresh chopped herbs or vegetables like parsley, broccoli, peas, zucchini, onions, and mushrooms.
If you're looking for a way to get more spinach into your diet, look no further. This week we're having spinach pancakes for lunch. Spinach pancakes are easy to make and fun to enjoy on the go which makes them one of our lunchtime favorites. Enjoy!
The backyard garden is looking a bit sparse but, thankfully, the farmers' markets still have much to offer. Apples are abundant, the tomatoes are hanging on, and the wide variety of roots and greens are breathtakingly beautiful and delicious.
Quesadillas are great for pleasing just about any crowd but with the sun dried tomato pesto and sides including shredded cabbage salad with garlic mango dressing and, of course dark chocolate covered coffee beans for dessert, this week's bento lunch definitely has a mature twist. Don't have a bento lunch box of your own? Borrow your child's... and enjoy!
This grab n' go bento is easy to prepare and fun to eat. The variety of colors and textures mirrors the range of flavors and nutrients in this healthy yet simple lunch. Happy spring!
If you're looking for something new to add to your lunch box, you're in luck. This week we made a rice sauté using black rice, which has a decadently sticky consistency and great flavor, and is full of vitamins and nutrients. For even more taste and nutrition, we sprinkled the sauté with nutritional yeast, which added a wonderfully nutty flavor. We hope you'll give it a try because we think you'll like it too!
This mushroom strudel has a wonderfully rich flavor, and it travels surprisingly well. Drop the other items into the box, and off you go.
This vegetarian "neat loaf" is amazingly flavorful and rich. It takes time to prepare but will keep well for several days in the refrigerator. Pack it as a stand-alone item one day of the week and with sandwich fixings another. (English muffin, mustard, and fresh cilantro are pictured in the photo here, but sprouts, sliced tomato, cheese, ketchup, sliced red onion, lettuce, and spinach are among the many other possibilities.)
If eating well is on the top of your new year's resolution list, then this week's lunch is for you - Great flavors, the vitamins and nutrients your body craves, and the right portions to keep you going. Here's to a deliciously successful 2013!
Looking for a major nutritional boost? Try packing a spinach salad in your bento box. Spinach is an excellent source of antioxidants, vitamins and fiber, and tastes great with just about any salad topping you can think of. Go ahead, experiment and enjoy. It’s good for you!
Whether you’re busy getting ready for Back to School or enjoying your favorite summertime activities, this week’s well balanced bento is sure to leave you feeling both healthy and satisfied. Sunflower seed sprouts and red quinoa pack a strong nutritional punch, making them a great accompaniment to the satisfying deviled eggs they’re served alongside. Enjoy!
Hummus is a great double-duty dip that is both nutritious and delicious. We added sundried tomatoes to our hummus to give it an extra burst of flavor and brought along carrot sticks and pita chips for dipping. Energy-packed trail mix and a sweet pluot rounded out this meal, which left us feeling energized enough to tackle the rest of our day.
This week's bento lunch will make the perfect on the go meal to be enjoyed during your weekend outings. Being able to enjoy your favorite fall activities and your favorite foods is always a possibility when you take your bento on the go!
This heartwarming lunch features multiple tastes, textures, and food groups. Prepare the pasta for dinner and save some to pack for a feel-good lunch tomorrow.
Lunch-making can be especially satisfying this time of year with so many fresh vegetables and fruits in season. This pasta dish, for example, is incredibly flavorful and takes just a few moments to prepare. If you belong to a CSA and find yourself wondering what to do with "extra" vegetables at the end of the week, these patties could be just what you're looking for.
This fettuccine dish is simple to make, tastes great, and keeps well overnight. Prepare it for dinner in the evening, and then pack it for lunch the following day. Add a nice, crispy green salad and two side dishes, and you've got a delicious mid-day meal.
We've been so inspired by the amazing Valentine's Day Bento Lunches you've been sharing that we decided to get in on the fun with this week's bento lunch. Happy Valentine's Day!
This lunch takes only a few minutes to prepare, especially if you cook the pasta the night before. The colors are lovely, and the fresh flavors can't be beat!
We’ve been enjoying our Christmas tree so much that we decided to carry that joy along with us in our bento boxes today. Our peanut butter and jelly Christmas tree was fun to decorate and is sure to be a hit this afternoon.
We picked up this fresh ravioli, pesto sauce, and broccoli at the farmers' market over the weekend. We prepared it for dinner last night and packed the rest for lunch today--along with some applesauce and some whole grain cereal. It was quite good!
This decadent picnic lunch is ideal for special occasions when you want something light and satisfying. It's especially deliciious during the summer months when local blueberries are in season. Substitute melon for the papaya if you prefer.
Last weekend we enjoyed such a great bento picnic that we decided to recreate it for today's lunch. This bento is a breeze to pack and is sure to be enjoyed in any setting!
Prepare the soup for dinner and save the leftovers for lunch. Create the pizza with an English muffin, pasta sauce, mozzarella and romano cheeses, and fresh herbs or vegetables.
In an effort to get a jump start on our New Year's resolutions, we've been using our Bento Sets for both balance and portion control. Lunches like this week's have made it both easy and satisfying to take this first step toward living a healthier lifestyle.
It's still quite warm here in California, but for those in colder climates, soup may be on the lunch menu this week.Try this delicious potato bean soup along with some whole grain crackers and some fruit. We were lucky enough to find the last of the fresh peaches at the farmers' market this past weekend.
Few things go together as well as potato pancakes and applesauce. Combine that with a bit of spinach, salad dressing and some sausages, and you've got an awfully good lunch.
Summertime means potluck time for us; and we love potlucks! To help bring some of the fun spirit of summer with us to the office, we decided to put together a couple of our favorite potluck dishes for this week’s bento lunch. Here’s to great summer memories every day of the week!
This is what lunch looks like the day after you have take-out Chinese food for dinner, or prepare your own eggflower soup and potstickers from scratch. (The eggflower soup recipe in Mollie Katzen's Honest Pretzels cookbook--pictured here--is delicious, kid-friendly, and very easy to make.)
Just because you're in a hurry doesn't mean you should skimp on nutrition. This week's bento lunch was quick and easy to make, nutritious and tasted great! What more could you ask for?
It's been a rainy, wish we could stay in bed kind of week, so we decided to give ourselves a little sleep-in treat by preparing this breakfast bento last night. That's right... we hit the snooze button a couple extra times and still enjoyed this delicious, well-balanced morning meal!
Have you ever had a bok choy salad? If not, you're missing out! A member of the cabbage family, raw bok choy is crunchy, refreshing, full of vitamins, and low in calories. We were certainly thrilled to see this colorful salad and sides in our bento boxes today!
Loved by both adults and children, this nutrient-rich lunch is fresh and delicious. Blueberries are in abundance this time of year, and they add balance to the orange, white, red, and green of the surrounding colors. Notice the variety of textures as well: crunchy jicama, juicy blueberries, crisp spinach, and creamy yams. It's got the word satisfying written all over it!
The month of January is coming to an end but we hope you're still going strong with those resolutions! For anyone looking for a little extra inspiration to stay on track, we hope this week's nutritious yet delicious lunch will do the trick.
Following these stars will lead you to a well-rounded meal that will help you through those last minute shopping and holiday details. We hope your holidays are filled with joy, happiness, and of course, bentos for everyone!
Risotto is great for holiday celebrations as either a main course or a side dish. It’s fairly easy to make, can be customized to suit your palate and makes for great leftovers. We had fun using our leftovers to create this festive wreath!
This colorful lunch is light, flavorful, and delicious--perfect for spring, when asparagus is in season. Follow the recipe here or create your own roll-up by including your favorite ingredients.
As the weather warms, and our farmers' market continues to expand its offerings, you'll begin to see more and more salads featured here. We are truly looking forward to summer's bounty, and we suspect that you might be too!
This American classic makes a great mid-day meal any time of year. Use lots of seasonal fresh greens topped with your favorite toppings for a salad you're sure to love. Pack it with a side of chili and some fresh cornbread, and you've got a real treat!
Salad and summer clearly go hand in hand, so why not put together a salad-only lunch to celebrate the last few weeks of this bountiful season? Any four salads will do, but here are a few to get you started.
A sandwich for lunch. What a concept! Shake it up from time to time with various fillings, breads, and spreads. In addition to traditional whole grain sandwich bread, try whole grain bagels, English muffins, pita bread, tortillas, nan, rice cakes, lavash, crackers, or focaccia. (A complete list of options can be found on page 87 of The Laptop Lunch User's Guide.)
This week our office has been trying to stick to a 100-mile diet as part of our monthly challenge series. This challenge has led us to get creative with local products and has given us an even greater appreciation for the fresh tastes of our town. We hope you'll either enjoy this Santa Cruz lunch or get creative with some of your local favorites.
This refreshing lunch will cool you down on those warm spring and summer days. Choose your own toppings, or try those pictured here. Be sure to pair the somen with a crispy apple or Asian pear.
Soup and salad make a delicious lunch any day of the year, but butternut squash soup in January is hard to beat! Prepare the soup and salads for dinner and pack the leftovers for lunch. They're delicious, nutritious, and gluten free!
Don't let memories of slimy childhood okra cause you to shy away from this menu. Fresh okra, when prepared right, is a wonderful treat! Add some brown rice, juicy peaches, and garden cherry tomatoes for a delicious mid-day meal.
Just like spaghetti with marinara, udon noodles with peanut sauce is a quick and easy meal your family will enjoy at the dinner table and love the next day for lunch. Hot or cold, this sweet and savory dish is sure to hit the spot!
Casseroles make terrific lunchbox leftovers and are great for adding nutrient-rich, fresh vegetables, like spinach, to your mid-day meal. Spinach casseroles, which come in many forms, can be prepared on the weekend and packed for lunch throughout the week. Try a spinach lasagna (pictured here) or a casserole made with brown rice, whole grain pasta, amaranth, barley, bulgur, or whole-wheat couscous.
Eggs have gotten a bad rap in the past, but they are a very inexpensive way to get a number of vitamins and nutrients into any meal. We decided to really amp up the nutritional value by making spinach frittatas for lunch. Paired with the sweet tastes of honey bliss melon and dried papaya chunks, this meal hit all the right marks.
Pineapple guavas are a wonderful treat this time of year. We packed a few with some fresh ravioli purchased at the farmers' market, some crispy garlic bread, and sauteed Brussels sprouts for a very yummy treat.
Now that the football and baseball seasons are overlapping, we decided to put together a bento box full of fun, healthy snacks that can easily be enjoyed while watching or playing your favorite sports. Go team!
This is the perfect time of year to enjoy asparagus and artichokes, which are both plentiful this month.
As the school year winds down and the festivities and obligations reach a new end-of-year high, we know you'll be looking for ways to speed up the lunchmaking routine without sacrificing quality. That's the time to give this very colorful and nutritious Grab 'n Go Bento a try.
Love these flavorful spring rolls! Be sure to include plenty of fresh garlic and ginger. Pan fry in a small amount of extra virgin olive oil instead of deep frying. Include a tangy dipping sauce as well.
Spring has sprung, the greens are fresh and we are celebrating this vibrant season with a delightful spring roll! Spring rolls can be filled with a wide assortment of crisp veggies, sweet fruits, marinated tofu and are a creative and easy way to get your greens. They are fun for kids and a classy touch for your work lunch.
Summer's right around the corner, the weather is warming up, and cold snacks are a must; so this week we put together a bento snack pack. With a combination of fresh fruits, veggies and protein packed nuts, this snack pack will help you enjoy your favorite warm weather activities without skipping a beat!
Substituting spaghetti squash for plain old pasta adds a depth of flavor and wholesome nutritients to any pasta sauce. The recipe for this dish was sent to us by Mariel Hemingway, whose new book, Mariel's Kitchen, is sure to be a winner in your home as well. We served this main course with fresh fruit and a couple of delicious oatmeal bars to achieve this way-more-than-satisfying meal.
The 4th of July may be over but we're still seeing stars! Fun bento lunches like this week's are a great way to remind us all of the excitement that can be found in every summer day!
This colorful lunch is great for the body and and a vision to behold. Steamed eggplant is wonderfully tender and contains far fewer calories than its fried counterpart. Shell your own edamame with a gentle squeeze to each bean or, if you're pressed for time, purchase them pre-shelled in the frozen foods aisle. Oranges are refreshing and provide an extra boost of vitamin C.
Enjoy the last few weeks of the watermelon season before it's too late. Include a stuffed avocado, fresh sugar snap peas, and a lemon wedge or an herb dip or drizzle. As the days grow shorter and cooler, find an hour or two--perhaps over the weekend?--to bake a loaf of whole wheat banana bread, zucchini bread, or pumpkin bread. Together these simple items add up to a light and delicious midday meal.
In anticipation of Valentine’s Day, we decided to prepare an extra special bento lunch to show our loved ones how much we care about them. Not only does this bento lunch taste great, it’s also loaded with vitamins and antioxidants, so have a happy and healthy day!
This lunch is easy to make and fun to eat, and most of the fresh ingredients are available at the farmers' market this time of year. If you're not used to eating whole grain pasta, consider giving it a try. You may discover that you prefer the nuttier more robust flavor it offers.
When you're in a rush, this festive lunch can't be beat. We adore these Tofurky brand sun-dried tomato and basil sausages, especially when paired with tortilla chips and salsa! Yum!
Nothing says "summer" like corn on the cob! Pack your dinner leftovers, or steam it fresh in the morning. Add some juicy fruits and vegetables for a refreshing lunch on a hot summer day.
Grilled veggies are a great way to make an everyday salad more interesting and flavorful. With a side of fresh cherries and summer peach bread for dessert, this week's bento makes the perfect summer lunch.
Looking for a quick and easy, yet healthy and tasty lunch idea? You’ve come to the right place! This week we kept our bentos extra simple and convenient without compromising health. In fact, our whole wheat pita pockets are filled with hummus, which is considered to be a super food… It’s super fast food!
Appealing to the eye and packed with nutrition, this bento lunch is light and tasty. Sushi rolls may seem daunting if you've never made them before, but they're really quite easy!
It’s important to indulge a little bit every once in a while, so this week we chose a bento box that is sure to satisfy just about anyone’s sweet tooth. Although this bento is full of treats, we chose to use wholesome goodies, so we hope you’ll enjoy the indulgence!
Yes, it's still summer here in California, and we're still very much enjoying the delicacies found at our local farmers' markets. This lunch is truly delightful as it represents many flavors of the palate. The words sweet, salty, sour, bitter, aromatic, and pungent come to mind. What a lovely combination!
What better way to brighten a cold winter's day than with Frosty, the Swiss cheese sandwich? We hope this holiday bento will remind you to join in on the fun this season has to offer.
The Mediterranean diet has been touted as one of the healthiest in the world and, by the looks of this week's bento lunch, it's clear to see why. Rich in fresh fruits and vegetables and full of flavor, this week's bento lunch is one of our new favorites!
This delicious fall lunch of red, green, orange and tan reflects the fall changes taking place outdoors this time of year. Prepare the pasta for dinner the night before and pack the leftovers for lunch.
Thanksgiving leftovers are arguably the best leftovers of the year, so no matter where you're headed Friday, be sure to pack your bento full of holiday goodness! Happy Thanksgiving!
We had a hard time deciding what to have for lunch this week, so we went for it all... soup, sandwich and salad! All that and we had room left for a piece of fruit and chips. What more could we ask for?
This week's bento lunch stars tomatoes, which we think are pretty incredible. Not only do tomatoes provide us with a long list of vitamins and minerals to keep our bodies healthy, they can also help improve vision, skin, hair, and eyesight! All that and they taste great, so enjoy!
Depending on where you're from or what your food preferences are, your idea of the perfect pilaf may be very different. For us, it's chopped up veggies, dried fruit, and nuts. Yum! We enjoyed our rice pilaf with a side of roasted golden beets, pears and some cheese puffs for a fun little cheat.
This meal delivers a little of this and a little of that. Enjoyed by adults and children alike, its delicious balance provides the perfect fuel for your afternoon plans. Yum!
Toddlers require far less food at one sitting than we do, so pack accordingly--and be sure to pack the colors of the rainbow. Include lots of bite-sized finger foods, and steam vegetables for easy chewing.
If you're like us, you're looking for ways to simplify your routine as we head into the busy holiday season. Packing simple "grab and go" lunches can save time and reduce stress. This is one of our favorites.
Sometimes, it's the simple things that make us happy. Smoked turkey on whole wheat, with a side of fresh veggies, colorful fruit and mango covered almonds is a bright and cheery lunch that will bring a smile to anyone's face!
Tired of that same old tuna tune? Turn up the beat with some fun garnishes and additions to your tuna salad sandwich! Add some kick with peppers, a little crunch with cucumbers and some zesty spices for an extra tasty twist! Paired with a side of carrots with dip and sweet applesauce, this lunch is bound to keep your lunch hour up-beat!
Hamburgers are commonly hailed as the ultimate all-American food, but for a meal on the run, veggie burgers are a great substitute. Veggie burgers can be easily tailored to appeal to anyone’s tastes and will maintain that great taste throughout the day. We loaded our burgers with some of our favorite veggies, grains and herbs which made for quite the gratifying mid-day meal.
If you believe that variety is the spice of life, then this bento was made for you. Sweet, sour, salty and tart; this bento’s got something for all of your taste buds!
In case you haven't heard, the staff of Laptop Lunches has gone vegan for the week, so, of course, this week's bento lunch followed suit. Although we were hesitant at first, we made some great vegan mayonnaise to go with our artichokes and felt completely satisfied after enjoying this delicious lunch.
This lunch is light and delicious, and comes together quickly. Be sure to make the roll-ups in the morning so they're not soggy by lunchtime.
Prepare a large pot of vegetable soup on the weekend to enjoy throughout the week. Be sure to include lots of onions, celery, carrots, cabbage, mushrooms, and parsnips. Add some short grain brown rice, barley, or quinoa for additional bulk. Bake your potato, add pretzels and an orange, and you've got lunch.
Enjoy this colorful menu for dinner and then pack the leftovers for lunch. This isn't exactly a low-calorie meal, but it does feature a range of brightly colored fresh vegetables. Be sure to cut back on the amount of butter and sugar in the recipes you choose!
Prepare the chili on the weekend to eat for lunch throughout the week. Pack a lunch as pictured above one day and substitute various fruits (apples, pears, grapes, grapefruit), whole grains (rice, bulghar, bread, cous cous), and raw vegetables (red peppers, carrots, cucumbers, green beans) for variety on the other days.
Want to have some fun with your veggies? Try rolling them up into a sushi roll! We paired our sushi roll with some fresh fruits and veggies from our farmers' market along with a PB&J to create a well-rounded, healthy, and fun bento lunch.
We all know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but it is often also the most rushed. Having breakfast for lunch is a great way to enjoy some of your breakfast favorites--but in slow fashion.
This week we've packed our Bento Box full of goodness using a flavorful veggie tofu loaf as the main course. Whether you're a full time vegetarian or not, veggie loaves are a delicious way to incorporate great flavor and a number of vitamins and nutrients into your meal.
This "dipping lunch" is easy to pack and fun to eat!
If the dreary, winter weather's got you down, we hope this week's bento lunch will help you fight back. The vibrant colors, fresh fruits and veggies, and fun lunchtime crunch certainly brightened our day!
Whole grains contain a number of vitamins and antioxidants that have been proven to have a positive impact on our overall health, so it’s important to get at least three servings a day. To help meet this recommended daily allowance, we decided to make a batch of whole grain pancakes for lunch. That’s right; as long as you use healthy ingredients even a treat like pancakes can be good for you!
This week we decided to jazz up our bento box by sprinkling some veggie confetti into our quinoa. This wholesomely fun, brightly colored bento lunch is the perfect way to officially say good bye to summer!
Staying warm is much more fun with a little Mexican flair! This week, we packed tortilla soup alongside some of our favorite side dishes. If you don't have access to a microwave at lunch, be sure to pack your soup in an insulated Bento Jar for a great mid-day warm up.
Just because winter is knocking on our doors, doesn't mean we should turn our backs on all the great fruits and veggies of summer. This year, we've decided to welcome winter with one of our summertime favorites, a refreshing gazpacho soup filled with veggies available to us year round. Enjoy!
Packed with vitamins, nutrients and antioxidants, we like to refer to black bean burgers as Wonder Burgers! They're easy to make, can be customized to please just about anyone's taste buds, and offer a wealth of health benefits. We hope you'll enjoy this week's bento lunch of Wonder Burgers and sides sure to leave you feeling great!
This week's lunch is great for those busy mornings when you're on the run but don't want to skimp on a nutritious lunch. Just grab your favorite ingredients, wrap them up, drop in some fruit, and you're on your way!
This lunch is ideal for those early September mornings when you're short on time.
This garden delight is one of our summer favorites. It's best prepared when fresh zucchini, garlic, basil, and tomatoes are still in summer abundance. Be sure to try it before fall arrives in earnest.