6 Healthy Bento Box Lunch Ideas

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Looking for new lunch recipes? These six healthy bento box lunch ideas are packed with a healthy balance of protein, fresh veggies, and whole grains. The best part? The boxes can be enjoyed at room temperature. School lunch and work lunch break approved!

Life can be messy, but lunchtime doesn’t have to be. This collection of recipes features six healthy bento box lunches that are a great way to pack nutritious meals for you and your family, despite your busy schedule.

When you run out of healthy lunch ideas, this selection of fresh and flavorful meals is an easy way to revamp work and school lunches – no reheating necessary!

Just pop off the top of your bento box and enjoy!

What is a Bento Lunch Box?

Bento-style lunches originated in Japan – and lucky for us, the concept caught on. These cute, creative (and sometimes cartoon characters-themed) lunch boxes are available all over, but what sets a Japanese bento box apart from any old plastic lunchbox?

The goal is to keep each element of the meal simple, healthy, and stored in its own compartment. Bento box lunches take the guesswork out of assembling healthy meals. Typically, the foods require no cooking or cooking that involves minimal effort.

Of course, bento lunch boxes aren’t your only option for assembling an organized lunch.

You can use any reusable airtight container with makeshift dividers (crisp lettuce leaves work great), or store the items the old-school way, in separate containers.

Don’t forget to check out this incredible Beginner’s Meal Prep Guide: to Stress-Free Cooking!

Bento Box Ingredients

Ready to elevate your everyday lunch? Start with fruit and veggies, and then pick a protein.

Here are a handful of my favorite options:

Fruit & Veggies

Fruit and veggies provide essential vitamins and minerals. You know better than anyone which fruits and veggies you or your kids enjoy munching on raw.

Here are some ideas:

  • Vegetable ideas: Baby carrots, carrot sticks, celery sticks, cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes, cucumber slices, sliced bell pepper, snap peas, zucchini noodles, or other spiralized veggies work great.
  • Fruit ideas: Choose fruit that won’t brown before lunchtime, such as clementine, tangerine, mixed berries (blueberries, raspberries, strawberries), pineapple, and watermelon. Apple slices are also a good choice if tossed with a bit of lemon juice.
Six different healthy bento boxes for lunchtime.


Protein plays a crucial role in our energy and satiety.

See below for ways to boost the protein content of your bento box:

  • Plant-based protein: Include ingredients like beans, chickpeas, edamame, lentils, tofu, tempeh, quinoa, bread made from sprouted grains, brown rice, or nut butter and seeds.
  • Vegetarian protein: Cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, mozzarella cheese, and hard-boiled eggs are all veggie-friendly ingredients to use.
  • Meat/fish protein: Canned tuna or salmon, chicken salad, a tuna salad sandwich, cold cuts, and leftover chicken are some of my favorites to use.

How To Make A Healthy Bento Box Lunch

  • Add plenty of veggies: There’s no such thing as too many fresh veggies. Load up on a variety or make a quick salad.
  • Add a dressing/dip (optional): This is a good opportunity to include healthy fats for your veggies or peanut butter for your apple slices.
  • Add protein: Pick a packable protein that tastes great at room temperature.
  • Add carbs: Your carbs can get their own compartment, or you can combine the proteins and carbs (think whole grain sandwiches and wraps).
  • Add fruit and a healthy treat: Last but not least, add a healthy sweet treat (fresh fruit, a healthy snack – like a nut bar or protein balls, or dark chocolate chips).
  • Use wholesome, real food: I avoid pre-packaged foods and focus on clean ingredients without any refined sugar. If you use packaged foods, opt for items with a list of ingredients you recognize.
Six bento boxes packed for lunch on the table with fresh ingredients around.

Bento Box Lunch Ideas

Now that you have all the tools to build Japanese bento boxes like the professionals, these bento lunch combos will come together in a cinch. ENJOY!

5 Top Tips For Making a Bento Box

  1. Let everything cool before sealing: As a rule of thumb, always let food cool to room temperature before closing the container and refrigerating. Otherwise, you run the risk of bacterial growth. Plus, the steam from the hot food can make everything go soggy.
  2. Include different colors: Adding the color of the rainbows to your lunch box not only looks aesthetically pleasing. It will help you incorporate lots of different vitamins, nutrients, and antioxidants into your plate. Try to include as many colors as possible to balance your diet and maintain good health.
  3. Mix different shapes & textures: Texture is as important as flavor. Always add something crispy and crunchy to your bento box to satisfy your senses (things like roasted chickpeas or crunchy slices of apples). And if your bento box is for your kids, use cookie cutters to make fun-shaped sandwiches and fruit to tempt them to eat more.
  4. Use green leaves as dividers: No bento box? No problem. Use romaine or green leaf lettuce leaves as the separators.
  5. Use ice packs to transport: If it’s a few hours until lunchtime, tuck an ice pack near your bento box to keep everything at the perfect temperature.


Are bento box lunch ideas for kids or adults?

These ideas are geared towards adults and kids with adventurous appetites. The beauty of these lunch ideas is how simple they are to modify with kid-friendly ingredients.

Are bento boxes eaten cold?

Typically, the foods in bento boxes are chosen because they’re appetizing cold, or at room temperature.

Why use a bento box?

• Reusable containers reduce environmental impact by cutting back on single-use plastic.
• The compartments make it easy to control portions and plan a nutrient-dense meal.
• Packed lunches are easier on the budget than ordering out every day.

Bento boxes for lunch on a white countertop at different angles.

How to Store Bento Boxes

You can prepare most of these bento boxes 2 to 3 days in advance and store them in the fridge before eating them.

I’ve mentioned this before, but it’s important! Ensure everything is cooled to room temperature before closing the box to avoid bacteria growth.

If you have a few hours before lunchtime, keep your bento box in the fridge or in an insulated bag with ice packs.

My Favorite Bento Boxes Containers

  • Stainless Steel Bento Box: I love these bento boxes. They are sturdy and reusable. This one has a removable silicone seal and leak-proof lock clips, so your food will stay cool and fresh. Not to mention, they are super easy to clean. But remember: You cannot put stainless steel bento boxes in the microwave!
  • Leak-proof Bento Box: If you prefer something lighter, less industrial, and non-toxic, check out these cute lunch boxes or a BPA-free plastic option. These are an excellent investment!
  • Classic Glass Containers: Another safe and classic great option that won’t release any chemicals in your food!

Why I Love These Bento Box Lunch Ideas

  • There’s an option for everyone! Vegetarians, vegans, and meat-eaters.
  • Each healthy meal includes plenty of veggies, protein, carbs, and healthy fats.
  • Most are no-cook or require very little cooking.
  • It’s easy to customize your lunch precisely how you like it.

More Lunch Ideas You’ll Love

And for more lunch inspiration, check out these 5 healthy lunch box ideas.

If you try this one of these healthy bento box lunch ideas, please leave a comment and a rating and let me know how much you liked it!

Healthy Bento Box Lunch Ideas

Looking for new lunch recipes? These 6 healthy bento box lunch ideas are packed with a healthy balance of protein, fresh veggies, and whole grains. The best part? The boxes can be enjoyed at room temperature. School lunch and work lunch break approved!
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Total Time30 minutes
Course: Lunch
Cuisine: Asian, Indian, Japanese, Mexican, Vegan, Vegetarian
Servings: 6 serving
Author: Sara Trezzi


Vegetarian Bento Box

Curry Bento Box

  • 1 serving 10-Minute Chickpea Curry
  • ¾ cup cooked brown rice - around ¼ cup uncooked rice per bento box – can substitute with naan bread
  • ¼ cup roasted spicy cashews - or sub for roasted chickpeas
  • 5 cherry tomatoes - diced
  • ½ cucumber - diced
  • 1 tablespoon red onion - chopped
  • ½ tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice - or lemon juice, or vinegar
  • salt
  • Cilantro leaves

Mexican Bento Box

  • ½ cup canned black beans - drained and rinsed
  • ¼ cup fresh sweet corn - if not in season, substitute with frozen sweet corn
  • ½ medium red bell pepper - diced
  • 5 cherry tomatoes - diced
  • 1 tablespoon red onion - chopped
  • 1 cup romaine lettuce - finely sliced
  • 1 tablespoon cilantro - chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • ½ tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon cumin
  • salt
  • ½ avocado
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon red onion - chopped
  • 1 slice jalapeno - chopped
  • ½ tablespoon cilantro - chopped
  • salt
  • ½ fresh sweet corn - boiled or roasted
  • tortilla chips

Japanese Inspired Bento Box

  • 1 egg
  • ½ teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon mirin - substitute with rice vinegar + ½ teaspoon raw brown sugar
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup red cabbage - finely shredded
  • ½ white cabbage - finely shredded
  • 1 small carrot - cut into matchsticks
  • 2 teaspoons black sesame seeds
  • 4-5 cilantro leaves
  • ½ teaspoon miso paste
  • ½ tablespoon soy sauce
  • ½ tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • ½ tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger
  • ¾ cup cooked brown rice - around ¼ cup uncooked rice per bento box
  • ½ cup spicy salt & chili edamame
  • 2 slices smoked wild salmon - or fresh sushi-grade salmon

Chicken Teriyaki Bento Bowl

Vegan Bento Box


Vegetarian Bento Box (click here for notes and tips)

  • Prepare the Mediterranean quinoa salad according to these instructions.
  • Assemble all ingredients into your bento box. Let everything cool down at room temperature before sealing.

Curry Bento Box (click here for notes and tips)

  • Prepare the chickpea curry according to these instructions.
  • Prepare the roasted spicy cashews according to these instructions. Or you can add roasted chickpeas, as an alternative.
  • Prepare the salad: mix all the ingredients in a bowl and set aside.
  • Assemble all ingredients into your bento box. Let everything cool down at room temperature before sealing.

Mexican Bento Box (click here for notes and tips)

  • Prepare the salad dressing: mix all the dressing ingredients in a small glass jar, and set aside.
  • Prepare the Mexican salad: In a small bowl, mix all the salad ingredients. If eating the bento box after a few hours, add the dressing. If you plan to eat the bento box after a few days, keep the dressing separate and add it just before eating.
  • Prepare the guacamole: In a small bowl, mash half avocado, add the lime juice, chopped red onion, chopped cilantro, and chopped jalapeno, and season with salt.
  • Assemble all ingredients into your bento box.

Japanese Inspired Bento Box (click here for notes and tips)

  • In a small bowl, beat the egg well using a fork. Add the soy sauce, mirin, and a tiny pinch of salt and mix until all the ingredients are combined. If you don’t have mirin, you can add rice vinegar and a ½ teaspoon of brown sugar to give it a bit of sweetness.
  • Heat a small skillet at medium-high temperature, and with the help of a pastry brush or a kitchen towel, spread a light layer of oil. Pour a thin layer of egg mixture into the skillet. Once the egg has cooked slightly, roll it into a cylinder and let it cook for another few seconds. Remove the omelet from the pan, let it cool slightly, and press it a bit before slicing it into thin rolls.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the ginger, miso, rice vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, and water and set it aside. In another bowl, toss the cabbage, carrots, cilantro leaves, and sesame seeds together with the dressing.
  • Assemble all ingredients into your bento box.

Chicken Teriyaki Bento Box (click here for notes and tips)

  • Heat the oil in a large frying pan over high heat. Add the chicken and let it brown for 3 minutes on each side, then remove from the pan and set aside.
  • Combine the sauce ingredients and pour into the pan. Let the sauce come to a boil and cook for 1-2 minutes until it starts to thicken. Then add the chicken and its resting juices back into the pan. Cook for 2-4 minutes, turning it quite often until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce is nice and sticky. Remove from the heat, let it rest for a few minutes, and cut into slices.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the rice vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, and water and set it aside. In another bowl, toss the mixed salad leaves, radish, and sesame seeds together with the dressing.
  • Assemble all ingredients into your bento box.

Vegan Bento Box (click here for notes and tips)


How to Store: Food safety and properly storing a bento box go hand in hand. The food should be cooled to room temperature before being closed inside the box to prevent bacterial growth and to avoid the food going soggy.
*For nutritional information, check each recipe individually.

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  1. 5 stars
    Wow! These look delicious! Thanks for sharing! Can’t wait to make a bento box for lunch!