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Six Easy Bento Box Lunch Ideas

Bento box lunch ideas are an easy way to pack healthy, nutritious meals for school. Choose from a variety of protein options, fruits and vegetables and easy dips for the perfect grab-and-go lunch.

This guide will walk you through how to easily build your own combinations, tips and tricks for packing bento boxes plus six delicious flavors to try.

four different bento box lunch styles in a stainless steel container on wood cutting board. Each on with different meat, beans, veggies and fruit.

Kids Bento Box Lunch Ideas

It’s back-to-school season and the perfect time to start eating healthier. If you’re a busy mom who wants the kids to eat healthier but without a lot of work, I get it. That’s why I love this bento box method so much. You can easily batch prep a week’s worth of lunches in one session and stack them in the fridge.

The method I’m sharing today is simple for a reason. I want to maximize my time all while still eating healthy. That’s why you won’t see any sandwiches or wraps, or pre-packaged ingredients (however those are great too!)

The goal here is to keep things SIMPLE. That way you aren’t feeling overwhelmed and you actually feel like this is doable.

So let’s get onto my own personal hacks I use to make sure that I’m creating healthy, well-rounded lunches for my own family. And you can use this for your family too!

**Get My FREE Bento Box Lunch Cheatsheet: All six healthy recipes plus combo inspiration in one easy-to-print format – Sign Up Here To Get It

What is A Bento Box Lunch?

This style of eating has been adapted from Japanese tradition. It uses a lunch box that contains separate compartments. I’m sure you’ve seen these containers before. They’re readily available at the grocery store these days.

I have stainless steel bento boxes in two sizes: medium and large. I use both often for myself and my daughter. I’m using the smaller size bento box with three compartments in the photos.

These boxes might seem like an investment at first. But they are way more durable than the plastic versions, which in my experience don’t last very long. I started out with two plastic bento boxes, both of which broke after a few months (and cost me $7 each). That’s why I ended up purchasing stainless steel ones. These have been with us for over five years now and will probably last our lifetime if we don’t lose them.

Can These Only Be Used For Kids? What About Adults?

I make myself bento box lunches all the time! They’re one of the easiest, simplest ways to eat healthy snacks and lunches on the go.

I always find that lunchtime is the hardest time for me to stay on track with eating healthy. I tend to get a bit lazy so my hack to help avoid this is to make a bento box lunch and eat it with a homemade soup that I batch prep for the week.

How To Assemble a Healthy Bento Box Lunch

By having dividers inside a bento box, it’s easy to pack smaller portions of healthy foods. This style of eating is great for picky eaters that don’t like their food touching or want to eat simply. I also find simpler meals like this to be much easier to assemble on busy days.

Here’s how I like to assemble our bento box lunches to maximize nutrition:

  1. ADD PROTEIN: Protein is important because it will provide longer-lasting energy for the day. I always ask myself, “What protein will I be adding to this bento box?” Once I know the protein source, I build the box around it. I’ve listed a bunch of protein examples that are great for bento box lunches below.
  2. VEGETABLES AND FRUIT: These are so important for vitamins and minerals. Giving kids natural fruit and vegetables versus pre-packaged rollups and gummy snacks is the best way to ensure proper nutrition. I always try to add more vegetables than fruit. Some of my daughter’s favorites are carrots, radishes, crunchy lettuce pieces, bell pepper slices, cucumber with sea salt, and pickles.
  3. DIPS AND SAUCES: Healthy fats are also an important energy source. You can get these from both hummus (from the chickpeas) and guacamole (from avocado). You can also add a handful of nuts or seeds for healthy fats. Some kids don’t like dips or sauces, so this part is totally optional. You could add sliced avocado, chickpeas, nuts or seeds instead.

Eat simple, whole foods avoiding pre-packaged foods when possible. Last but not least, the goal here is to focus on whole foods if you want to provide as much nutrition as possible. That means skipping the store-bought granola bars, cookies, gummies, and rollups that are all very high in refined sugar.

Hard boiled eggs, deli meat, beans, greek yogurt, quinoa and salami all in separate bowls on a wood cutting board.

Bento Box Lunch: Start With Protein

When I’m making a bento box lunch, I always start with a protein source first. This is the best way to ensure you’ll receive long-lasting energy to get through the afternoon. Here are some ideas:

  • HARD BOILED EGGS: I typically hard boil a dozen eggs as soon as I get home from the grocery store and leave them in a bowl in the fridge for an easy protein source.
  • BEANS: You can keep things simple and season black beans, chickpeas or lentils with a bit of olive oil, sea salt and pepper.
  • QUIONOA: one of my favorite plant-based proteins! You can easily cook quinoa at home.
  • BUCKWHEAT GROATS: Buckwheat groats are another great whole grain that is derived from the rhubarb family. If your kids like quinoa or brown rice, then they’ll probably like buckwheat groats too.
  • Plain greek yogurt – greek yogurt is actually quite high in protein. Avoid flavored versions that are usually high in refined sugar. Sweeten the yogurt yourself instead with pure maple syrup or honey, cinnamon, and fresh berries.
  • DELI MEAT: Add slices of deli turkey, chicken, salami or ham. I usually just add the slices without adding them to a wrap or sandwich.
  • CANNED FISH: This could be eaten on its own, seasoned with salt and pepper. Or added to a sandwich or wrap.
  • CHICKEN: If you roast a whole chicken you can add cold leftovers to the bento box. Or pick up a pre-cooked rotisserie chicken from the grocery store and use that instead.
Berries, olives, sliced kiwi, snap peas, carrots, grape tomatoes, watermelon, and grapes in bowls and on a wood cutting board.

Next Add Fruits and Vegetables

  • VEGETABLES: You can add a variety of veggies including cucumber slices, carrots, bell pepper, celery, radishes, red onion, sprouts, pickles, olives, broccoli, cauliflower, mushrooms and cherry tomatoes. Each of these can be sliced and added to the bento box raw.
  • FRUIT: For fruit, I love to add fresh blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, cherries, kiwi, melon (honeydew, cantaloupe or watermelon), apples, pears, or grapes.
four bowls on a wood cutting board. One with guacamole, greek yogurt, hummus and ranch dip.

Try Dips and Sauces

Dips and sauces can add an extra dose of protein and healthy fats. Here are a few favorites:

  • Hummus
  • Guacamole
  • Plain greek yogurt (sweeten it yourself with honey or maple syrup if desired)
  • Ranch dressing – you can make your own homemade ranch easily
  • Seed butter or Nut butter – sunflower seed butter, pumpkin seed butter, almond butter, peanut butter, cashew butter etc. If the school requires nut-free snacks, try Sunbutter!

Bento Box Lunch Inspiration

Below are six different ways you can put together a bento box. I always start with a protein source first – that’s where the energy boost will come from. After that, I layer in vegetables, dips, and a small amount of fruit.

These ideas below are here for inspiration but feel free to make any combinations you want. Plus, grab my free bento box lunch cheatsheet to help inspire you.

Stainless steel bento box lunch with deli turkey slices, crackers, grapes and cheese cubes.

1. Classic Bento Box

**Get My FREE Bento Box Lunch Cheatsheet: All six healthy recipes plus combo inspiration in one easy-to-print format – Sign Up Here To Get It

This is an easy classic that can be used as a snack or lunch for kids. To make the classic bento box simply add sliced deli turkey, grapes, cheese cubes, and crackers (I like RW Garcia brand because they’re gluten-free and contain simple whole food ingredients)

To make the bento box lunch, divide these ingredients into sections of the bento box:

  • 3 deli turkey slices
  • 1/2 cup crackers
  • green grapes
  • 1/2 cup white and cheddar cheese cubes
Stainless steel bento box lunch with apple slices, cheese cubes, carrots, snap peas, and a small container of seed butter.

2. Apple and Cheese Bento Box

**Get My FREE Bento Box Lunch Cheatsheet: All six healthy recipes plus combo inspiration in one easy-to-print format – Sign Up Here To Get It

This bento box is made with apple slices, cheese cubes, carrots, snap peas, and seed or nut butter. My daughter loves dipping her apple in Sunbutter (it’s nut-free and made with sunflower seeds).

To make the bento box lunch, divide these ingredients into sections of the bento box:

  • 1 sliced apple
  • 1/2 cup cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup seed butter or nut butter
  • a handful of carrots and snap peas
Stainless steel bento box lunch with deli turkey slices, handful of crackers, baby carrots, olives and small container of hummus.

3. Mediterranean Inspired Bento Box

**Get My FREE Bento Box Lunch Cheatsheet: All six healthy recipes plus combo inspiration in one easy-to-print format – Sign Up Here To Get It

Another easy snack box to try, this one uses olives, carrots, deli turkey, crackers and hummus.

To make the bento box lunch, divide these ingredients into sections of the bento box:

  • 1/4 cup hummus
  • 6 olives
  • 6 baby carrots
  • A handful of crackers (my favorite are RW Garcia)
  • 2-3 deli turkey slices
Stainless steel bento box lunch with sliced hard boiled egg, salami slices, snap peas, chickpeas and cucumber slices.

4. Protein Power Bento Box

**Get My FREE Bento Box Lunch Cheatsheet: All six healthy recipes plus combo inspiration in one easy-to-print format – Sign Up Here To Get It

Protein from the hard-boiled egg, chickpeas, and salami pack a serious punch here. I love to serve chickpeas in my daughter’s lunch boxes. They’re high in protein and kids usually love them. Just drizzle some olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt on top.

Typically, I hard boil a dozen eggs every time I get home from the grocery store. They’re an easy source of protein for breakfasts, snacks, and lunches.

To make the bento box lunch, divide these ingredients into sections of the bento box:

  • 1 hard-boiled egg – with salt and pepper
  • 4 salami slices
  • 1/4 cup chickpeas – with olive oil, salt and pepper on top
  • 1 mini cucumber – sliced and sprinkled with salt and pepper
  • a handful of snap peas
Stainless steel bento box lunch with quinoa, kiwi slice, grape tomatoes, cucumber slices, and hummus.

5. Quinoa Bento Box

**Get My FREE Bento Box Lunch Cheatsheet: All six healthy recipes plus combo inspiration in one easy-to-print format – Sign Up Here To Get It

Cook a large pot of quinoa for easy meals throughout the week. Quinoa is another easy protein source to add to kids’ lunches. You can drizzle olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt, or half of a freshly squeezed lemon over top for added flavor. This bento box has carrots, grape tomatoes and hummus for dipping. Plus a sliced kiwi for dessert! (Note: always cover the hummus with a lid when sealing the bento box)

To make the bento box lunch, divide these ingredients into sections of the bento box:

  • 1/2 cup cooked quinoa – with salt and pepper
  • 1 kiwi – sliced in half
  • 6 grape tomatoes
  • 1 mini cucumber – sliced and sprinkled with salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup hummus
Stainless steel bento box lunch with black beans, grape tomatoes, cheese cubes, tortilla chips and small container of guacamole.

6. Tortilla Bento Box

**Get My FREE Bento Box Lunch Cheatsheet: All six healthy recipes plus combo inspiration in one easy-to-print format – Sign Up Here To Get It

This bento box is like a deconstructed taco. Add a good quality taco chip, black beans, cubed cheese, grape tomatoes, and guacamole to make this easy idea. One important tip is to cover everything with a paper towel before closing the lid. This will help absorb excess moisture from the beans, cheese and tomatoes and keep the tortilla chips crisp.

Also, you want to cover the guacamole with a lid (I used a plastic condiment cup that I ask my daughter to bring home. I just wash and re-use them)

To make the bento box lunch, divide these ingredients into sections of the bento box:

  • A handful of tortilla chips
  • 1/4 cup guacamole
  • 1/2 cup black beans – drizzled with olive oil, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup cheese cubes – sliced and sprinkled with salt and pepper
  • a handful of grape tomatoes

If you think adding plain beans to a lunch is weird (some people do, some people don’t), then meal prep a cold salad like our black eyed pea salad or the easy chickpea lemon tuna salad and add a serving of this to the bento box instead.

More Kids Lunch Ideas

Six Bento Box Lunch Ideas

Bento box lunches are an easy way to pack healthy, nutritious meals for school. Choose from a variety of protein options, fruits and vegetables and easy dips for the perfect grab-and-go lunch.
3.74 from 15 votes
Print Pin Recipe

Ingredients

1. Classic Bento Box

  • 3 deli turkey slices
  • ½ cup cheese cubes
  • ½ cup grapes
  • ½ cup crackers

2. Quinoa Bento Box

  • ¾ cherry tomato
  • hard boiled egg
  • sliced cucumber
  • cooked quinoa - seasoned with salt and pepper
  • hummus

3. Tortilla Bento Box

4. Mediterranean Inspired Bento Box

  • 3 deli turkey slices
  • 6 olives
  • ¼ cup hummus
  • 6 baby carrots
  • ½ cup crackers

5. Apple and Cheese Bento Box

6. Protein Power Box

  • 1 hard boiled egg
  • 4 salami slices
  • ¼ cup chickpeas - seasoned with salt and pepper
  • 1 mini cucumber - sliced
  • 6 snap peas

Instructions

  • Add all ingredients to a bento box style container. Seal with a lid for an easy grab-and-go lunch.

Recipe Notes:

Bento boxes aren’t always leak-proof here’s how I maximize freshness with mine:
  • Store dips and sauces in a mini container with a lid. 
  • Keep crackers or tortilla chips stored in a small plastic bag to prevent sogginess.
  • Blot vegetables with a paper towel to remove excess moisture before adding to the bento box (for example, pickles).
  • Place a paper towel over top of all ingredients before adding the lid to help absorb moisture.

Please note these nutritional values provided above are just an estimate. Actual numbers will vary based on brands and ingredients you choose, and your preferred portion sizes.

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all six bento box lunch inspirations in a pinterest pin with labels describing each ingredient.