Brown Bagging it with Bento Boxes
Brown Bagging it with Bento Boxes are the perfect lunch solution. Whether you are headed to the office, packing a lunch for the kids, or just want to have a quick bite prepared for yourself in the refrigerator.
My husband and I both work from home and it seems like we are constantly preparing meals; 3 meals a day at home can start to become a chore. In order to make life a little easier I have started to prepare Bento Boxes. These are a type of grab and go snack box, perfect for lunch or dinner, when we are both just too busy or too tired to cook. The term bento comes from Japanese cuisine for a single-portion, take out, or a home-packed meal. While a traditional asian style Bento contains rice or noodles, a protein such as fish or meat, with a side of pickled or cooked vegetables. Today the term is more loosely used for a variety of snack based boxes that contain a source of protein, vegetables, and fruits.They also make great healthy snack options for those days you might decide to binge watch some Netflix, and if you have them separated in portioned containers it will keep you from over indulging. I would also imagine that for families these could also be a great option for Back to School lunches, as they can be custom designed to meet all kinds of dietary requirements. We personally like to use the single serve nut butters and hummus which is a great way to keep our portions in check. Along with the single serve cheese stick options now available in different types of cheese, aside from the old standard mozzarella string cheese. Now you they make more gourmet versions like sharp cheddar and gouda, which is our favorite. We even like the laughing cow cheese, too. However, we tend to pass on the baby bels, as they have a long family story; that ends with a moldy one found stuffed in my first car’s backseat cushions, by my grandmother with Alzheimer’s disease, 3 years after she had passed away. So, we are not as keen on eating those much anymore, lol. Another tip I always like to recommend is to soak your apple slices in lemon juice, or some form of citrus juice to preserve them. This is what keeps the apples from turning brown. So, when you see those prepackaged apples at the store and wonder what the juice is in the bag, it is basically lemon juice.I always like to try and have a protein, fruit, vegetable, and carb in each of the boxes. This particular box, I am using the cheese and peanut butter as my protein source. I also love these wheat bread sticks, they are a nice low carb with good flavor and great crunch. Plus, they give you extra dippers for your peanut butter, guacamole or hummus.
*For School lunches you may need to use the Sun Butters, for allergy issues since some schools do not allow peanut products. Hard boiled eggs also make a great low fat high protein option and fit nicely into the boxes. Another great protein option could be a dried fruit mix like a trail mix, smoked almonds or Pistachios which all contain good fats and a bunch of flavor. Just be carful, if these are going to schools I know they have nut rules in place these days. I also do themed boxes depending on what is on sale at the store, below I have created an Italian/ Mediterranean box which I have added in Pepperoni, olives, cherry tomatoes, mozzarella chunks, breadsticks, roasted red pepper hummus and grapes. Think of it like a deconstructed pizza. Also don’t forget something a little sweet, I like to use a seasonal fruit if possible. However, you can get apples and grapes year round. I do like the antioxidant properties of blueberries, strawberries and cherries, which pair nicely with the cheeses and nuts. Another great tip I have is to use cupcake liners to keep the items separated in the boxes. If you are using Tupperware that has little individual containers, that’s great, but if not, the berries and nuts sometimes can get shuffled around during transport. This is a cost effective way to keep items in there places. Also they work great for porting out nut butters, and hummus too, if you are trying to save a few bucks with the single serves. At the end of the meal you just toss the liners away and it saves on mess too. Here are a couple of other great snack box options we substitute in that are not pictured:
- Shrimp Cocktail
- Grilled Chicken Bites
- Pepper Strips
- Guacamole Dippers
- Zucchini Sticks
- Lunch Meat Roll Up
- Pinwheel Sandwiches
- Pickle Spears
- Banana Bites
- Laughing Cow Cheese Wedges
- Babybel Rounds
- Tuna Salad Cucumber Bites
- Trail Mix
- Parmesan Crisps
- Pickled Okra
- Candied Pecans or Walnuts
- Mini Waffles
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KEEP TRACK OF YOUR ESSENTIALS
Again these make amazing Back to School lunches and if you are thinking about this as an option for your picky eaters make sure you have them labeled properly. Minted offers a great line of colorful, stick-on custom labels are waterproof, dishwasher-safe, laundry safe, made from non-toxic materials and perfect for practically any item leaving the house. For machine washable items, peel and firmly stick your clothing label to care tags on clothing or plush toys.
I have add a few of my favorite below along with a link for you your shopping convenience. The food allergy tags are really handy too, even though most schools have a no nut rule these days, they still offer no dairy, no eggs, and gluten free tags.
- Ballet Feet 2.Little Doodles 3.Electric Guitar 4.No Eggs 5.Sweet Heart 6.Monogram Picture Tag 7.Timber 8.Modern Periodic 9.Fun Llama 10.Nut Allergy 11.Rustic Banner 12.We Do This Every Year 13.No Dairy
- SHOP EARLY for Back to School, use code: SHIPFREE
- You can also sign up for Get My Welcome Offer to save 15% off your first order
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I think I need some help in packing lunches, I hope they prove their time saving claims.
These look so great and easy to do. I’m always looking for quick and filling lunches to bring to work and I’d definitely use some of these that you have suggested!
Thanks for sharing! x
What great ideas! I love having healthy, ready to eat meals and snacks in the refrigerator. I try to pack all my lunches for the week on Sundays.
What a great idea! I work at home and often struggle with having a healthy lunch. Having them ready at my fingertips would ensure I eat healthy. The muffin wrapper to keep things separated is such a good tip! How long do you find they keep after you make them?
Hey Nicole I usually make about 6-8 of them at a time mainly because that is how many my refrigerator will hold and how my containers I have, lol. Which is 3-4 days worth, since it is my husband and myself eating them. Everything stays fresh, although I would probably not recommend using the cupcake liners for the dips for longer than 3 days they start to break down, they are fine with the cheese cubes, nuts and fruit.
Such a fantastic idea, especially when you both are on the go! Love the hard boiled egg addition!
I love making Bento boxes for lunch, but I get tired of having the same things over and over. Thank you for all of these suggestions, I am definitely going to incorporate some of these into my lunches next week!
This is a great idea for the kiddos lunches, they each have such different tastes so it is always a struggle. Plus I love those cute name labels I need to check them out, since I have one with a Peanut Allergy which is always a concern. Thanks for all the great tips.
Yummy these look like the perfect lunch for me, forget the kids! Just kidding, I love a snack box with great little portions and a variety of fresh items like this, great idea to use the muffin liners to separate things. I have eater that can not have anything touch, it’s a nightmare.
I love this idea for a number of reasons! First, lunches that are basically giant snacks are my favorite. Second, it makes eating healthy at work so much easier! Love it!
Absolutely love the idea of these snacky lunches. Perfect for at the desk lunch.
Love this idea!! Being at home with a new baby all day makes it hard to eat sometimes but if I prepare these the night before I’ll be set!
Great idea, these would even make great camping snack boxes fro our girls mess kits. They are almost the same size containers too.
This is really great advice! I agree, preparing meals is such a chore. I work from home too. This will really make food preparation easier for me. Thank you for sharing!
Love this idea for the kids lunches and even for me. I need a healthy quick snack box too, ya know?
Such a great lunch idea, the perfect way to have healthy snacks and small amounts.
Such a great idea!! I really want to eat healthier but never ‘prepare’ so the quick option is usually not the healthiest. Investing in these bento boxes ASAP!
I love this idea! There are so many variety of snacks that you can put into the bento box so you’re never bored of the snack box. I will totally try this out.
That’s a really great and cute idea. Packing lunches for school can save money and making them ahead will save time.
Great healthy and fun bento box snacks.
such a great lunch idea and looks healthy too!
What a great idea this is. Constantly preparing meals can be a chore. I definitely see the pros in preparing bento boxes as we are a large family. Love this idea!
These lunch boxes are amazing! I would even make these for myself!
Wow this is an extremely neatly written article. I’ll make sure to bookmark it and return to learn more of your useful information. Thanks for the great post.
I love them! Excellent to take with you! For a healthy and organized lunch break! ttt
These look so good! I’m horrible about meal prepping, and I get tired of eating the same thing more than two days in a row. But I’m envious of people who can stick to meal prepping.
I love bento boxes! When I return to work, I’ll have to get back in the habit of making these.
This is a great idea. My kids will be returning to school in the next two weeks and this is helpful for preparing for their lunches.
I love these ideas. I’m always looking for easy low to no prep options for lunch.