1. Invest in a functional bento box.
Not only are they cute, but they have little compartments so you can really mix it up with the leftovers.
Mr Bento’s bento box is stackable, vacuum-insulated, and microwaveable.
BONUS: hang the bag on the front doorknob so you’ll remember it on your way out.
Here’s a stainless steel one for $24 if you’re worried about chemicals from plastic.
2. Freeze your water bottle to keep your lunch cold.
This way, you also have an ice-cold beverage to drink with your lunch.
3. Pack a smoothie in your lunch with this little trick.
Put your thermos in the freezer the night before. In the morning, make your smoothie (make a green smoothie if you want to be extra healthy) and pour into the thermos. The frozen thermos will keep your smoothie cold and fresh until lunchtime.
4. Pack sauces in adorable containers.
These come with a dropper so you can easily fill them up with soy sauce or balsamic vinegar. They also work great for sriracha sauce.
5. Make a gorgeous vegan salad in a mason jar.
Make five salads in a jar on Sunday and they will stay fresh and crisp through the whole week. Keep dressing on the bottom or bring it separately. Get tips here.
6. Put that slow cooker to good use.
Try making a hearty stew or curry in a slow cooker for dinner — it’ll be cheap, plentiful, and belly-warming. You’ll have enough leftover for lunch the next day (or any day, if you freeze it). Check out this page for more ideas and recipes.
7. Make quinoa your main grain.
Quinoa is so much healthier than rice or pasta. Make a giant batch and store it in a tupperware container in the fridge for up to a week. You’ll be pleased to find out it doesn’t dry out the way rice does. Easily toss a scoop into a stew or soup that you’re packing.
8. Wrap last night’s leftovers into dumplings.
Got some leftover curry or casserole but not enough for a whole meal? Stuff them into pre-made gyoza wrappers. All it takes is a little bit of water to seal them. These are so easy to eat, plus you can include some kind of dip (think guacamole, hummus, or just plain soy sauce). Get more info here.
9. Use the wet paper towel trick for reheating leftovers in the microwave.
Wet a paper towel and wring it out. Place it over your dish. It will help any pasta or rice dish retain its moisture.
10. Write a cute message on a banana for a loved one.
If you’re packing someone else’s lunch, include a banana and scrape a secret message onto the peel using a toothpick. By lunchtime, it will have magically appeared.
11. Bring your own yogurt cups.
You get to pick your own fruit and nuts while saving money.
12. If there’s no microwave in the office, get a lunch crockpot.
Just plug it in and it will slowly warm your food over the course of a few hours. They cost $16 from Amazon.
13. Use a rubber band to keep a sliced apple from browning.
Once the apple is sliced, keep the slices together with a rubber band.
14. Make your own stylish leather lunch bag.
Jil Sander and Acne both released leather “paper bags” which you can easily copy with the directions here.
15. Keep a loaf of bread in the office.
Instead of bringing a sandwich to work, just bring the fillings and make the sandwich in the office kitchen. This will keep the sandwich from getting all soggy (inevitable if you’re including meat or tomatoes).
16. Use a cute reusable sandwich bag.
These LunchSkins cut down on wasteful disposable plastic bags.
17. Use your muffin tin to bake whole meals.
Not only is this an easy way to exercise portion control, but you can make a bunch at once and save them for the rest of the week. If you’re cooking for kids, they love eating with their hands. Here are 10 easy muffin meals, including meatloaf cupcakes and mac & cheese muffins.
18. Eat a cupcake out of a mason jar.
Yes you can. Get the directions here.
19. Make really cute vegetable shapes with these cutters.
Great if you’re packing kid lunches. Get them for $10 from Amazon.
20. Make a PB&J the right way.
Lightly coat both slices with peanut butter, and spread jelly in between. This way, the jelly doesn’t sog up the bread.
21. Pre-portion a large batch of rice and freeze.
They’ll be ready to go. See Just Bento for more tips.
22. Frozen cooked shrimp is healthy and easy.
They defrost during the day, but stay cold enough so that they’re safe to eat. Add olive oil, lemon juice, and any other seasoning, or include a dip.
23. Learn how to poach an egg in the microwave.
Any leftovers are instantly delicious when you top them with a just-poached egg. Get the full directions over at TheKitchn.
24. Repurpose leftover taco meat for lunchtime nachos.
Add some beans, shredded cheese, and tortilla chips.
25. Pack stinky foods like fish into a rice ball.
It will mitigate the smell, and also makes a nice portable snack.
26. Add pre-made ravioli to a soup.
It’s a super easy way to make a soup more hearty and satisfying.