Looking for unique lunch ideas? We’ve put together our top five favorite bento box recipes for adults to get you through the week ahead!
Remember being in grade school and trying to swap lunches with your classmates? An apple for a yogurt, a turkey sandwich for a no-crust PB&J, or trying to convince literally any of your classmates to swap for the leftover hodgepodge of whatever Mom made last night. And, Oh wonderful day, when you pulled out Lunchables™—the creme de la creme of school lunches. Fast forward a few decades and the envy of every workplace break room has got to be the bento box.
If you’re looking for unique, exotic, and healthy meals to get you through the day, here are my top five favorite bento box lunch ideas. (AKA the Lunchables of the workplace.)
What Is A Bento Box Lunch?
You likely know what a bento box is, even if you’re not familiar with the name. Bento box describes a single-portion meal, commonly used for take out or home-packed food in Japan, Taiwan, Korea and other Asian cultures. You’ve probably seen these compartmentalized meals in the Main Courses section at Japanese restaurants, often a tasty alternative to sushi.
Here are some tasty bento box lunch ideas to have you looking slim and feeling satisfied.
Healthy Bento Box Lunch Ideas
Bento boxes for adults are super fun to plan, prep, and eat. And by no means do you have to limit your bento box lunch ideas to eastern cuisine (though, I included a bomb Asian-fusion recipe!).
These five bento boxes for adults will get you through the week, but feel free to mix and match, and explore your way around the world—all within an appropriately portioned meal to help you stay healthy!
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.
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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.
On one hand, bento boxes for adults are regular meals, appropriately portioned out. On another, they’re fun ways to explore and enjoy new lunch options. They also allow you to creatively meal prep, which helps you eat healthy on a budget. As with all meals, just remember to have fun making them, and enjoy every bite.