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.
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!
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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 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!
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.
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!
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!
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! Itís 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 canít be beat!
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 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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.