If portion control is your kryptonite, bento boxes are a great way to avoid going overboard. But instead of grabbing a pre-made bistro box from Starbucks or Pret a Manger, why not design your own with the foods you love? Putting them together is half the fun.
Melissa Rifkin, RD, MS, CDN, CSO, says, “Bento boxes help prevent me from getting stuck in the same snack routine and keeps me satiated throughout the day.” The ideal snack or meal should consist of lean protein, complex carbohydrates, healthy fats and fiber (fruits and veggies). Just beware when adding condiments that could have sneaky sodium and sugar, Rifkin says.
Don’t own a bento box? Check this one out, or take a rectangular Tupperware and use muffin paper cups, parchment paper or mini containers as dividers. (We’ve got plenty of meal prep inspiration right here.) These bento boxes are guaranteed to make your co-workers wish they had your snack instead!
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6 DIY Bento Boxes That’ll Make Meal Prepping Fun
1. Protein Snack Bistro Box
While we’re steering clear of Starbucks’ unicorn frapp, we’ll take a cue from their protein snack box. This one has the ideal portion of carbohydrates, protein, fat and fiber. Plus, it’s got a good mix of sweet and salty foods to satisfy your cravings. A small packet of nut butter will keep you from devouring a jar. And taking the time to peel the Babybel cheeses and hard-boiled egg will help you savor your food longer. Photo and recipe: Stephanie / Sustaining the Powers
2. Cottage Cheese, Blueberries, Sliced Turkey and Cheese
For just 271 calories, this simple snack will keep you fueled for your workout. Turkey and Swiss cheese roll-ups are a healthier alternative to sodium-heavy beef jerky, while cottage cheese and blueberries offer a different take on parfaits. Photo and recipe: Miranda Mendoza / Slashed Beauty
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3. Egg Salad Sandwich, Broccoli, Fruit, Dark Chocolate-Covered Peanuts
This box will make you want to lie in the park on a summer day. The bright egg salad atop a bed of spinach is sunshine in a box, while the jewel-colored blueberries and raspberries pop like flowers. Don’t forget the broccoli florets, lined up like trees on the sidewalk, and the sunset-red radishes. Dark chocolate-covered peanuts are a sweet ending. Photo and recipe: Alison / Celebrating Sweets
If you want to slow down and enjoy your lunch, Weelicious uses a genius hack of cutting your sandwich into cubes and forking them with a skewer to hold the food in place. Savoring your food and chewing each bite fully helps with digestion and regulating hunger. We also love the beautiful mix of golden and black berries and edamame that balance the nutrients and colors in this meal. Photo and recipe: Catherine McCord / Weelicious
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5. Turkey Sandwich, Edamame, Hummus and Pretzels, Hard-boiled Egg and Veggies
You won’t believe how much you can pack into a bento box until you see this one. Inside is a whole-wheat mini bagel with turkey and sprouts for your main. Then, you’ve got some tasty sides of pretzels and hummus, salted edamame, cherry tomatoes and a hard-boiled egg and fresh berries. Photo and recipe: Cassie / Wholefully
6. Buffalo Chicken Meatball Bento Box
If you want to cut back on the gluten and not go with a basic sandwich, this bento box features chicken meatballs dressed in a healthy buffalo sauce. The bite-sized protein balls are the perfect complement to some leafy greens and a side of homemade ranch dressing. Pack some fresh berries to top your meal off with something sweet. Photo and recipe: Lauren / Wicked Spatula