When I was working on coming up with a (totally reasonable, not crazy) plan to get back in shape after pregnancy, one of the action items in my plan was to pack my lunch everyday. Now, that might sound a little strange considering I work from home (about 15 feet away from my kitchen), but I’ve realized over the past two years of working from home that I really need the structure that comes from packing my food everyday. If I don’t have a preplanned meal, one of two things happen: either I snack all day long or, what happens usually, I skip meals until 3pm comes and I get so ravenously hungry that I eat everything in the pantry. Neither option is super healthy. So to fight that off, I pack my lunch!
I’ve been sharing some of my lunches, and it’s been getting such a great response, I thought I might start sharing them regularly on here, too. I’ve always been a fan of packing bento-style lunches, because I absolutely love eating a wide variety of foods—so that’s what you’ll see the most of.
And before you ask: yes, these lunch containers are awesome! Awhile back, I bought a bunch of LunchBots containers for my lunch, and I’m in love. We stopped storing food in plastic a few years back, and these stainless containers are amazing. Obviously, you can’t microwave in them, and they aren’t water-tight, but they work for my purpose. The LunchBots Cinco is my absolute favorite—it’s large enough for a big hefty lunch, and I love having five compartments. I also have the smaller LunchBots which I usually use for snacks and breakfasts—Uno, Duo, and Trio, and I also have the LunchBots Dip Containers. I also use rectangular and square silicone baking cups as dividers.
My favorite part about using these containers regularly is that I’ve developed a pretty good eye for the volume and calorie count of each lunch. Of course, I could fill one up entirely with…say…mayo…and probably clock a really disgusting 5000 calorie lunch, but I have never topped 600 calories in the Cinco packing the normal, healthy foods I like—which is perfect for my breastfeeding-friendly calorie goals.
Here are a few of my lunches from the past few weeks. I apologize for the quality of photos—I’m usually snapping these late in the evening when daylight is quickly fading, and I’m ready for bed! I really need to get me a new iPhone so I can take better pictures on the go.
Turkey and sprout sandwich on a whole wheat mini bagel, cucumber slices, salted edamame, pretzels and hummus, cherry tomatoes, hard-boiled egg, blueberries and strawberries, and a few chocolate-covered cherries for dessert.
Chicken salad, steamed green beans, roasted potatoes, crackers, mini pear, strawberries, and chocolate-covered cherries.
Chef salad (minus the cheese, plus sprouts), roasted potatoes, fruit salad, and trail mix.
Egg salad, pickle, cucumber slices, crackers, steamed green beans, applesauce with cinnamon, grapes, pretzels, and chocolate covered cherries.
Bean salad, blueberry coconut milk yogurt with blueberries and chia seeds, black olives, crackers, mini pear, black cherry tomatoes, and chocolate covered cherries.
Next time, I’ll try to (a) get better photos and (b) snap more pictures of my breakfast and snack bentos—they’re fun, too! I’d also love to hear your ideas for your favorite things to pack in your lunch.
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I’ve been loving your Instagram pics of your lunches so I’m glad you put them here too. I almost bought a Lunchbots box yesterday but then I read some reviews that it isn’t leakproof (which I think I could get over cuz I would just pack soups and things in another container) but that the dividers don’t keep more liquidy things separate. What was your experience with things like yogurt and chicken salad? I really love that they have all the dividers though because I end up packing 6 different containers to keep things separate.
I haven’t had any issues with thicker things—like chicken salad or yogurt, but if it’s any runnier than that, you are going to have some seepage. It doesn’t really bother me, I just put anything that might get soggy (like crackers) in a silicone cup if it’s going next to something that might seep.
I’d love to get the recipes for the salads, etc. hot listed in the above blog post!
Can u send me recipes for your lunches? Turkey sprouts sandwich and your salads too
I love your idea , where can I find those tins can and those dividers
Your lunches look great! I am amazed at your discipline to pack your own lunch each day even though you aren’t leaving the house. I will admit packing a lunch for my daughter isn’t my favorite task. I have been looking the LunchBots though because we have a different brand of stainless steel container (with only 2 dividers) and she has trouble opening the lid by herself (she’s in kindergarten). Are these easy to open? Also, do the foods stay in their own containers very well or would things get mixed up when she’s carrying her lunch in her school bag? Thanks for any feedback–these containers are expensive and I want to make a better purchase next time!
They’re pretty easy to open—although they might be a little tricky still for little hands. And I don’t think they’re really meant to be jostled much. The dividers aren’t a super tight fit, so you might have a mess after a few hours in a backpack.
Also check KleenKanteen.com for reusable lunch containers. Most of their products are stainless steel – we love their Tiffin style lunch pails and their water bottles!
I have a few suggestions for your daughter. I have a laptop lunchbox, which keeps foods separated. It is plastic but free of all the yucky stuff. It has many container configurations and some come with lids. I also like the planet box lunch box. It is stainless steel and supposedly easy to open. It also has leakproof bowls that fit inside for runny stuff. Both of these will keep food separated even when shaken around in a kids backpack.
I just ordered a Planetbox to try for my daughter’s school lunches.
Her lunchbox currently gets packed full with a bunch of small tupperware everyday. It’s still plastic, but it’s better then a bunch of ziplock bags. I do have glass containers, but even though they’re the really sturdy glass, I didn’t want to be sending that stuff to school since it’s going to get banged around on everything at school.
Planetbox is nice because it comes with little containers that fit inside the spaces that do become liquid safe (dips, etc. I wouldn’t pack soup in them) when the whole box is clasped closed.
However, it is also quite expensive and I could do something that isn’t leakproof for my own lunches.
How easy is it to clean? It looks like the divider has enough space under it for food to get smushed.
I’ve had no issues keeping them clean. But admittedly, I rinse them out as soon as I’m done eating (bonus of the kitchen being 15 feet away from my desk).
Your lunches look amazing! I’m all about a big variety of items in a meal and you’ve definitely got that. Love the lunchboxes with their compartments too. I’m going to have to pin some of these for ideas for next week. :)
I’ve been loving seeing your packed lunches on Instagram! And plus- the food inside looks so healthy and yummy!
We bought some rubbermaid due to a small container for salad dressings. I love the line, but the small container was not leakproof, spilling the dressing all over the lunchbox. After two years, we are still at square one about leakproof containers. Time for an investigation?
Those dip containers from LunchBots are leakproof. They seal tight!
Your lunch menus are excellent. You should publish a few as I stick mainly to a salad.
I love these kinds of posts as well! Please keep them up and on Instagram. It’s so helpful just to see what else people are packing for lunch, as I do take my lunch to work every day. It’s definitely appreciated, so thank you! :)
Love these boxes but they don’t ship to Australia :-(
I’ve been enjoying the pictures of your lunches on instagram too – they always look so yummy and give me some great ideas.
Wow, very pretty and inspirational! I’d love to know how you make your salted edamame. I’ve liked it in restaurants, but it’d make a great at home/work lunch snack.
These look like great fun! I’ve been using glass pyrex bowls to take my lunches to work, but having a punch of them just makes it heavy. I think I’m going to look into these in one of the lunch boxes they have, too.
Your lunches are amazing! Now I have a few new ideas for my bento style lunches. I’m going to check your blog for the coconut milk yogurt. I’ve been starting to cut out dairy but I miss yogurt. Thanks for the ideas.
I was just curious if you had any recipes posted because all of your food looks yummy!! Would love to see your recipes.
Could you provide a recipe for your bean salad in the final lunch? That would be perfect for my 8 year old daughter. Thank you for the inspiration.
Sure thing! You can find it here: http://blog.anytimefitness.com/homemade-cowboy-caviar-black-bean/
Thank you so much!
Thank you for opening my eyes to these cute and delicious looking lunch ideas, if it looks appetizing it probably is! You might have just saved my (pardon my french) fat ass, thanks!
much love <3
This post is the reason I bought a lunchbox with more than one box today!
I work long long hours and even though I love cooking I hardly have the time throughout the week. I never liked the idea of “just” having some bread and a piece of fruit for lunch. The idea had some kind of school-lunch kind of feel to it, which I was sure wouldn’t satisfy me for a long work day. After all:In Germany Lunch is the main meal of the day while I understand that in America it’s supper, right? But seeing your ideas, combinations, all those little pieces and snacks … It’s like turning your lunchbox into something more of a breakfast/lunch Bento kind of thing – which I really really like. I will definitely try some of your ieads – maybe I’ll even post some to my blog! If I do I’ll be sure to link you :)
Love your lunches! How did you get affiliate links?
I use Amazon Affiliates: https://affiliate-program.amazon.com/
I hardly ever see anyone with their name spelt the same as mine :)
These look excellent, but make me wonder about temperature issues. Does the tin keep items cold, or do you have to put it in the fridge? Does everything you put in there have to be cold foods? I realize it isn’t microwavable, and I’m a huge fan of hot foods. I suppose one could scoop out the food and microwave it, but then why not have it in a separate container all together?
These look amazing though! I may get one eventually, and toy around with vegan friendly foods you could pack in them.
Has anyone tried Vidadish Fit Portions containers?
They’re a Vancouver-based lady-run biz and they actually gave me a set of portion control dishes to review as I’m a Nutritionist. Totally awesome! My kids love the fun colours too.
Could you provide the recipe for the chicken salad please it looks so good?
Sure thing: https://wholefully.com/2010/08/23/curry-soft-serve-and-diamonds-204060-day-6/
What is your instagram page?
I’d love to follow you!
I’ve locked my Instagram page down to be private since this post. :) Thanks, though!
Wow! Those lunches look delicious & filling. I love your idea for adding those silicon dividers.
If we can’t follow you can you tell me how to get details about your lunches?
In these posts! :)
I absolutely loved these lunch ideas. I am pretty dependant on what they serve at the school’s cafeteria (I’m a teacher) but sometimes the options are not the healthiest and by the end of the school year I pack a few extra pounds. Also, I am not into cooking and most of these ideas require little to no cooking. Please keep posting more!!!
Lunches look great. Wondering how many calories in one lunch?
I don’t calorie count, so I have no idea! :)
I love the containers but most of all I like your variety of packed lunches.
I too am a bento box girl! I love using my bentos (at work and at home) for keeping my meals on track, interesting, and never boring. It’s fun to put together different foods, and I’m less likely to want to eat out, or make bad choices, with a gorgeous bento waiting for me! Thanks for sharing!
Where do you guys get the lunch containers?
Where do you get the containers? I want one?
Bento box comes with different varieties of food just like in japan. They prepare bento box for their kids and they form the food into character shapes for the kids to enjoy.
Can you tell me anything about your meal prep? When do you make your lunches? Do you make single servings? or eat the same thing all week? or are these left overs from dinner? I’m sure it’s a combination but what do you do mostly?
Sure thing! I have a whole post about it: https://wholefully.com/2013/03/21/how-i-prep-food-for-the-week/
I am looking forward to trying your lunches it just seem like a lot of food to eat @once is it supposed to be snacks included?
Nope, no snacks. I’m a big, active girl who is breastfeeding, so that’s an acceptable amount of food for me. If you don’t have quite the same calorie needs, just back down the portions a bit. :)
I love beets…my fav is beets with cottage cheese. then I add different flavours. Friday it was beets with shredded carrot cottage cheese and some sweet thai chili sauce on greens. I always add a hard boiled egg. I am enjoying your lunches. My kids are active as well and are tryng to eat healthier and I have shown them your blog…they always listen to someone else….although I have been saying this for YEARS!
That turkey sandwich with sprouts looks so good! What else do you put on it besides those two ingredients?
Mayo and grainy mustard. And maybe cheese. :)
Another huge fan of LunchBots products:). I use the Bento Cinco and Trio and regular Duo and Trio for my lunches. Love what you packed!
Hello. All your lunches look great. Here is my dilemma, my husband is the most picky eater on the face of the earth. P&J tuna egg salad hard boiled eggs. That’s it on the protein. If you or anyone else that may read this have ANY ideas I would greatly appreciate it. Thanks!!!!
This is going to sound crazy, but my advice? Go with it. All of those choices are relatively healthy (or can be made healthier—whole grain bread and natural PB for the PB&J, boost the tuna and egg salad with veggies). When I’m working with picky eaters, I’ve always found the gentle approach works best. If you try to force them to eat something they don’t want to, it just becomes a source of resentment. Instead, work with what they give you. Try making his favorites a little healthier—small chances are really the name of the game. And if he’s happy eating PB&Js and hard boiled eggs everyday, well, then let it be.
I learned if you can see it then you can eat it. What I mean is I bought clear stackable air tight containers for my refrigerator. When I come home from the market, I immediately cut up the vegetables, wash and dry them and put them in the refrigerator at eye level. I put a paper towel in the container to keep from moisture spoilage. I wash strawberries in a vintage bath to get rid of mold or bacteria. It keeps them fresher longer. JC penny has a great deal on their IXO containers. Not only do they look great but keep things inside your frig from smelling. Hate that. Grapes, washed, dried, detagged so you can grab a cup full and go. Keep a medium Styrofoam cup near your frig. so your not over doing it. Cantaloupe by cutting it into bite size pieces you actually eat less. I like salads that have sweet salty, so a cup of greens with nuts, pears, a strawberry or two, grape or two, and dip your fork into salad dressing. Amazing how that cuts calories.
Hey guys, I’ve been using these recipes to better my health while enjoying great food at the same time.
I an not sure if I missed it considering I am on my phone but are the recipes on how to make these lunches listed?
They aren’t – sorry!
Hi, Cassie! I’m so excited to have found your blog. Do you have a recipe for the chicken salad shown in your “lunches lately”? It looks delicious and creamy! Thanks!
I do! It’s buried in this (very old) post: https://wholefully.com/curry-soft-serve-and-diamonds-204060-day-6/
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