After over a year of working from home and snacking whenever you feel like it, you may be dreading getting back into the routine of packing lunches for the office. Sure, you can opt for takeout a few times a week, but we all know that bringing your own food will generally save you both money and calories. So it’s worth thinking up a few go-to lunches that you can easily prepare a night ahead and toss into your work tote in the AM.
One quick lunchtime fix I’m loving lately? The grownup bento box. Think back to the lunchables of our youth but add a little more nutrition and color (why were lunchables always so good yet so bland looking?!). To kick things into gear, grab a bento box that you can fill with whichever goodies you desire. Not only are these boxes more exciting than your classic plastic baggie, they’re quite affordable and better for the environment, too! I grabbed two (it’s always ideal to have a backup for those days where you get home extra late and doing dishes just isn’t going to happen); one was from World Market and the other was from TJ Maxx. The two containers were structured differently but overall have the same function, and both are pretty darn cute! After scoring these containers, I headed to Trader Joe’s to pick up my groceries for the week, and gather so many of my favorite treats—fresh fruit, cheeses, and of course, some desserts!
Because I know everyone could use some easy lunch ideas, I’ll walk you through my two desk-friendly meals. The first bento box I packed (the container from World Market) features a little bit of everything: some chicken salad and crackers, fresh raspberries (they’ll always be my all-time favorite fruit), hard-boiled eggs, cherries, and a few mini chocolate chip cookies (hey, I’ve gotta satisfy my sweet tooth!). I always love snacking on a mix of sweet and savory throughout the workday, so this mix of foods is bound to hit the spot. Additionally, nothing is too pungent or messy, which makes this lunch extra cubicle-friendly!
When packing the bento box I picked up at TJ Maxx, I filled one compartment with cheese and meat, one with a fresh nectarine and some leftover cherries (as well as a few chocolate-covered cherries), and another with pita chips and hummus. I know that if I don’t eat enough protein throughout the day I’m bound to become super hangry come 3pm, so once again, I tried to be strategic with what I packed!
As for finishing touches, I grabbed a small water bottle at TJ Maxx that’s easy to bring back and forth each day without weighing down your work bag. I also grabbed two lunch boxes—one cute leopard find from TJ Maxx and a fun floral option from The Paper Source. I know, I know, I probably don’t need multiple lunch bag options, but I’m a girl who loves her accessories and know that these will be helpful to use on the weekend too! I’ll be using them to bring snacks to the park or pack up drinks for an outdoor concert. At The Paper Source, I also grabbed an adorable ice pack (it’s shaped like kale, what could be more 2021?!) and a hand sanitizer keychain that I clipped onto one of the lunch bags so that all of my bases will be covered.
I’m not only excited to have some new lunches in my rotation, but also am thrilled that these didn’t take long to prepare. Packing a healthy lunch can be checked off your list in all of five minutes, and you’ll thank yourself come 12pm the next day, trust me!
Sarah Lyon is a freelance writer and interior design enthusiast who currently lives in Washington, DC. Her work has appeared on websites including Apartment Therapy, Architectural Digest Clever, Lonny, and MyDomaine. Additionally, Sarah’s own spaces have appeared on Apartment Therapy, The Everygirl, Houzz, and Washingtonian.com. Her Dupont Circle apartment was featured in both the spring 2019 print edition of Small Space Decorating and the January 2019 print edition of Washingtonian Magazine. Follow her on Instagram @sarahlyon9.