Bento Box Lunch Ideas


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Bento box lunches are a great way to pack for lunch on-the-go. Choose an assortment of healthy ingredients for vibrant meals and balanced nutrition that’s utterly convenient for work or school. The best part? You often don’t need to heat them up. So all you have to do is open the box, dig in, and enjoy.

Several bento box lunches arranged next to each other on a countertop.

Back to school season is here, which means busy schedules are back, along with the need for quick yet satisfying meals. While my meal prep ideas are one way to solve this problem, I’m excited to introduce you to  a new method that will make your healthy lunch a breeze: bento boxes.

Thanks to this Japanese tradition, organizing fun and healthy meals couldn’t be any easier. And because bentos are normally eaten cold or at room temperature, this cuts out a hefty chunk of cooking time. Now let’s get prepping.

What Is In A Bento Box Lunch?

Learning how to make a successful bento box lunch is quite simple once you know what types of ingredients to include. Here’s a few key tips on what foods to consider and how to make the most of your box compartments.

  • Keep it nutritionally balanced. Creating a healthy, balanced meal is the goal here. So load up on a variety of vegetables and protein. With moderate amounts of fruits and carbs.
  • Think packable foods. Bento boxes are convenient because you often don’t need to heat up anything, and the food is already portioned. Main meals can include wholesome salads, wraps, sandwiches or sushi. While snacks can be all types of fruits, freshly chopped vegetables, dips, nuts and seeds, or energy balls.
  • Don’t slack on presentation. In Japanese culture, the way food is presented reflects the way it tastes. Which is why bento boxes are made up of small compartments. It helps to organize every part of your meal without it all mushing together. And to keep your presentation on point, get creative with colors and textures! This can easily be done by adding colorful fruits to one compartment or adding extra leafy greens to your sandwich.

How to Make A Bento Box Video

Want to see how I assemble my bento box? Watch the video below!

Easy And Healthy Bento Box Lunch Ideas

While there’s so many different combinations you can make with a bento box, here’s a few ideas to get you started.

Bento box filled with zucchini noodles, chicken and berries.

Zucchini Noodle Caprese and Baked Chicken Bento Box

Zucchini noodles make for the perfect cold pasta, especially when you toss it with caprese flavors. But to amp up the protein in this meal, we’re adding a simple baked herbed chicken to go along with it. Along with a handful of fresh berries to round out the meal.

Bento box filled with tuna salad sandwich, fruit salad and chips.

Tuna Salad Sandwich and Melon Salad Bento Box

You can never go wrong with a classic tuna salad sandwich for lunch. It’s light, filling, and so refreshing. And for easy fruit and veggie additions, this box holds cucumber slices, baked plantain chips, and a fun melon mozzarella salad.

Bento box filled with Greek salad, hard boiled egg, celery and hummus.

Greek Salad and Hard Boiled Eggs Bento Box

If you love all things Mediterranean, this box is for you. A bright greek salad loaded with veggies is paired with simple yet nutritional snacks. Just blend together a bit of hummus, chop some celery sticks, and add a hard boiled egg.

Bento box filled with pinwheels, energy balls and fruit salad.

Smoked Salmon Pinwheels and Watermelon Salad Bento Box

Another great cold seafood option is one of my all-time favorites: smoked salmon. I’m using this ingredient to make delicious smoked salmon pinwheels on top of a bed of spinach. Then, take this meal one step further with a watermelon, cucumber and feta salad and my matcha pistachio bliss balls for a filling snack.

The Best Bento Box to Use

You’ll often find me using my favorite glass containers for meal prep, but they’re just not practical for taking lunch on-the-go. My favorite bento boxes are lightweight, secure, and leak-proof. And after trying several different brands I found the bento boxes pictured above to be the best.

You can get them in a variety of shapes, including square and rectangular, as well as colors and styles. Might as well choose a bento box that suits your personality!

Several bento boxes on a table with different lunch recipes and ingredients.

Bento Box Lunch Ideas (For School or Work)

5 from 22 votes
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Total: 40 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
Author: Lisa Bryan


Bento box lunches are a great way to pack for lunch on-the-go. Choose an assortment of healthy ingredients for vibrant meals and balanced nutrition that’s utterly convenient for work or school.



Zucchini Noodle Caprese and Baked Chicken

  • 1 recipe zucchini noodle caprese
  • 1 boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 1 cup baby arugula
  • 1/3 cup raspberries and blueberries

Tuna Salad Sandwich and Melon Salad

Greek Salad and Hard Boiled Eggs

  • 1 recipe greek salad
  • 1 recipe hummus
  • 1 hard boiled egg
  • 2 stalks celery , chopped

Smoked Salmon Pinwheels and Watermelon Salad


  • Follow each of the individual recipes to make the components. Then assemble and place in the bento boxes.

Lisa's Tips

  • The nutrition facts are based off the Zucchini Noodle Caprese and Baked Chicken Bento Box
  • Note that these recipes create full servings, so leftovers will need to be stored in containers in the fridge. Then, just prep the bento boxes the following days. 


Calories: 334kcal | Carbohydrates: 11g | Protein: 38g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Cholesterol: 116mg | Sodium: 388mg | Potassium: 1107mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 2376IU | Vitamin C: 52mg | Calcium: 1308mg | Iron: 2mg
Course: lunch, Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Bento Box, Bento Box Lunch Ideas, Bento Box Recipes
Did you make this recipe?Mention @downshiftology or tag #downshiftology!

About the author

Lisa Bryan

Lisa is a bestselling cookbook author, recipe developer, and YouTuber (with over 2.5 million subscribers) living in sunny Southern California. She started Downshiftology in 2014, and is passionate about making healthy food with fresh, simple and seasonal ingredients.

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Recipe Rating


  1. I know I’m late to the party, but I just found you and couldn’t be happier. I was also diagnosed with an autoimmune condition and started the long journey of eating healthier. Your recipes are exactly the kind of things I love to eat, but planned to perfection and easily followed! Thank you so much for all the hard work you put into these. I LOVE them all!

    1. Hi Cindy – Welcome to the Downshiftology community! I hope you get inspired in the kitchen with my recipes :)

  2. Helpful but the items are too sparse and some bento boxes in the post are’nt capable of providing the daily calories requirement. Thank you.

  3. I used these recipes this week for my lunch. They were so good I almost forgot I was eating healthy. My adult son tried several and could not believe how good they were and also how easy to prepare. YUM YUM

  4. Loved the video and awesome looking recipe ideas. I can’t wait to try these for the new year! I just ordered me a bento box. Thank you.

  5. I am looking for good lunch ideas for my kids. Your video is very very helpful. I’m sure my kids will be loved it.
    I already buy success bento boxes with your coupon.

    Thank you again, Lisa.5 stars

  6. I find your recipes so simple, delicious and healthy.  Thank you!! And please keep making more videos. 

  7. Hi Lisa! I really loved your recipes and I am not even into healthy foods! I also would LOVE to order the cherry blossom bento box but I can not find the information to do so. It’ s really pretty and I feel like it will help a lot for inspiration to eat proportionately and healthily. Can you tell me the company that sells these? Again, thank you for the recipes!5 stars

  8. Wonderful ideas.  Thank you!  Always looking for good lunch ideas for kids lunches. 5 stars

  9. I am so happy to see a bento box video from you! I absolutely love these monbento lunch boxes, since I already own a few of them. They really are a wonderful product. These boxes are also very addicting to purchase once you start using them. They really help me to eat fresh and healthy at work since I can just throw together something together in the morning or the night before. The recipes you have here look so delicious too, I can’t wait to try them out and add them to my bento box recipe list!

    I really hope to see more blog posts or videos with these bento boxes in mind!5 stars

  10. Hi Lisa,
    I am learning a lot with your videos and the way you combine different foods. Thank you for sharing your creativity and help us to improve our health.
    This video was absolutely lovely! Congratulation to the three of you!!5 stars

  11. Love can’t wait to try this! I’m not able to have dairy, is there an alternative to the mozza balls that you use for these recipes that you would recommend?5 stars

  12. These are the PERFECT way to snazz up some lunch box meals! I love bento boxes, especially how you can add so much variety to one meal and make it balanced. Thanks for sharing these wonderful suggestions!5 stars

  13. There’s so many great ideas here I’m having a hard time choosing my favorite. Will definitely be making this later this week. Yumm!5 stars

  14. Thank you, Lisa! I can’t wait to do these bento boxes!!!  You mentioned in your video that you have a discount code for the bento boxes?  I want to order a couple for sure. Thanks so much,


  15. Lisa, you are a life saver! I can thank you enough for putting this all together. I absolutely love all of your recipes and videos. Planning healthy meals for my little guys (4&6) can be tricky but they have loved all of your recipes so far. Thank you for all of the work you do to put this all together!5 stars

  16. Even though we’re sheltering at home, these lunches have inspired me to improve my lunch choices! Many thanks!

  17. Hi Lisa,
    you have us hooked, we’ve been rabid fans ever since trying your Shakshuka.
    These Bento’s look amazing. Keep ’em coming!

    -MOE & DONNA Franklin MA5 stars

  18. This is such a fun video, and also super cute! You guys did an awesome job and all recipes are just SO delicious: colorful, healthy, and packed with refreshing flavors. Perfect lunch boxes for back-to-school. Also, I’m familiar with Bento Box myself and find them just adorable. Again, congrats to the team, the end of the video was hilarious and just made my day! Del5 stars

    1. Thanks so much Del! Glad you enjoyed the video and can’t wait for you to pack your own bento boxes!

  19. Hello! What gluten free bread do you recommend? Also I noticed more dairy than usual…i thought your meals were mostly paleo? Any other recommendations for a cheese substitute?

    Thank you!

    1. I normally use Canyon Bakehouse! And yes, I have been incorporating more dairy, but most of my recipes are still paleo or can be altered to become paleo. You can simply omit the cheese in the recipes for this :)

  20. Hi Lisa, 
    This post is perfection(!) and a great follow-up to your meal prep approach :)

    The recipes, nutrition tidbits, photos – I love it all.  

    Great tips to implement whether packing lunch for one, two or the whole family.  It is a great way for kids and teens to increase their own food and nutrition skills by packing their own lunches.  Plus for younger kids – bento style boxes allow so much colourful variety.

    Keep it up!

    1. So glad you enjoyed this post Barbara! Hope this gives you some inspiration for creating your bento boxes :)

  21. Loved your newest video with your niece and nephew! AND LOVED the Bento box lunches. I will certainly give them a try. Well done, everyone!5 stars