Easy and Healthy Lunch Box Ideas for Grown Ups

Easy and healthy lunch box ideas for grown ups

All the lunch boxes we’ve ever bought have been too big, too small or  too leaky. I was starting to wonder if I would ever find  the Goldilocks lunch box, you know, the one that’s just right.

That’s when I discovered the Yumbox which has been a game changer in the way we make and eat lunch. The lunch boxes come in a range of sizes; the original Yumbox (seen here in red,) the Panino, the larger Tapas (seen here in blue) and there’s a Yumbox snack box too. The Yumbox is a total box ticker. It’s BPA free, durable, easy to clean, doesn’t leak and it’s perfect for sandwich free lunches (although it fits a sandwich too.)

If you think the Yumbox is just for kids, then you might need to think again. The original Yumbox  accommodates ½ cup portions of the 5 main food groups,  fruit, vegetables, protein, dairy, and grains, which makes packing a balanced lunch box quick and simple. It’s perfect for picky eaters and portion control. The Tapas is larger still with five compartments (or four larger ones)  and will satisfy bigger appetites.

Our lunch boxes always meet the same three criteria; they’re quick and easy to make and they’re sandwich free. I  downloaded these super ace Yumbox plannners but the truth of the matter is that most days I fly by the seat of my pants and what’s in the fridge is what ends up in our lunch box.

Grown up lunchbox 6

Chicken and Pesto Meatballs, bococinni balls, Pesto and Cheddar Loaf, hummus, carrot sticks and grapes

Since we packed our Yumbox, we’ve eaten more fruit and veg than ever, we’ve saved a heap of cash  and are snacking less. I now pack a Yumbox even on the days I don’t go to work because once it’s packed, I can enjoy an all day degustation.

I think it’s important to point out that I don’t buy specific items for our lunch boxes. I’m not a fan of processed food and prefer to make my own mainstay items, but mostly our lunch box is made up of what ever I find in the the fridge. With a set of core ingredients and a little bit of organisation, it’s really not that tricky to pack a nutritionally balanced and totally delicious lunchbox.

If you want to save yourself time and money – try these tips!

  • Wash fruits and veggies as soon as you buy them
  • Choose fruits and veggies that need minimum chopping, for example, grapes and cherry tomatoes
  • Buy fruit and vegetables that are in season
  • Think about using roasted as well as raw veggies
  • Upcycle leftovers
  • Batch cook a heap of your favourite lunchbox fillers and freeze in individual portions
  • Always keep a dip in the fridge
  • Plan to include protein and/or savoury bake, a dip and at least one serve of fruit and veggies

Grown up lunch box 2

Ham crepe wraps, hummus, carrot sticks, cheesy cauliflower pesto bites and grapes

What to pack in your Yumbox

Dips 

We always have at least one home made dip in the fridge at any given time for cooking or snacking or both. Any one of these will regularly appear in our lunch boxes and can be made in a food processor or Thermomix in under 5 minutes.

Fat Mum Slim’s Pretty Amazing Make-It-Yourself Hummus (gf, nf, df, vegan)

Pumpkin Hummus (gf, nf, df, vegan)

Thermofun’s Salsa (gf, nf, df, vegan)

Roast Pumpkin and Cumin Dip (gf, df, nf, vegan)

Kale and Basil Pesto (gf, vegetarian*)

*If made with a vegetarian parmesan alternative

Big people lunch boxes

Cheesy Cauliflower Pesto Bites, Roasted Pumpkin and Cumin Dip, Capsicum strips, Strawberries and Popcorn

Proteins

I usually batch cook these and freeze them in individual portions.

Baked Meatballs (gf, df, nf)

Chicken and Pesto Meatballs  (gf, nf)

Meat Muffins with Barbecue Glaze

Grown up lunch box 1

Meat Muffins with barbecue glaze, roasted pumpkin, kale and basil pesto, capsicum strips, strawberries, grapes and popcorn

Vegetarian options

These are varied and include some of our old favourites and/or left overs.

Onion and spinach Pakoras with Mint Raita (gf, nf, and vegan, df without raita)

Cheesy Quinoa Bites  (gf, nf, vegetarian )

Pumpkin, Sage and Feta Mini Frittatas (gf, nf, vegetarian)

Lentil Falafel with Garlic Yoghurt Dip (nf, vegetarian)

Cheesy Cauliflower Pesto Bites (nf, vegetarian)

Grown up lunchbox 8

Pumpkin Sage and Feta Mini Frittatas, pickles, carrot sticks, cherry tomatoes, hummus and melon chunks

Savoury Bakes

As a rule, I don’t add baked goods to the lunch box but these savouries are a delicious exception. I  batch cook these and freeze in individual portions.

Vegetarian Sausage Rolls (vegetarian)

Chicken sausage rolls (nf)

Three Cheese, Spinach and Pesto Rolls (nf, vegetarian)

Massaman Chicken Rolls (nf)

Mini Ham and Corn Quiches (df, nf)

Grown up lunch box 7

Three cheese spinach and pesto rolls, pumpkin hummus, carrot sticks, olives and strawberries

Fruit 

A nutritionally balanced lunch box contains at least one serve of fruit.  I won’t lie, “finger fruits” like strawberries, grapes and blueberries are the easiest to prepare because you can just wash and go, but other seasonal fruits work just as well. David and I are totally opposite, I never met a fruit I didn’t like, and he only cares for grapes and blueberries. Generally, I pack our lunches based on what’s cheap, what’s in season and what’s most loved.  My favourite lunch box treat is a banana sliced lengthways and sandwiched together with nut butter. Super yum!

Grown up lunch box 3

Onion and Spinach Pakoras with Mint Raita, roasted sweet potato, capsicum and cucumber sticks and peach slices

Veggies

Veggies feel the same love as fruit in this house. I love them all, David is more discerning. I refuse to buy veg only for lunch boxes, so we chuck in what we have to hand.  The way I see it, I’d rather eat the same veggies for lunch every day than no veggies. Amirite or amirite? There are always carrot sticks to hand, and I’m rather partial to a strip of capsicum or cucumber too. Don’t underestimate roasted veggies – they also go great in a lunch box!

lunch box

Ham crepe roll ups, cheesy cauliflower pesto bites, hummus, carrot sticks, grapes and granola bar

More lunch box favourites

Most items in our Yumbox are finger foods but some foods are worth making an exception for, like these proteins. I usually cook everything (apart from the egg)  ahead and freeze in portions. We love boiled eggs,  the Organised Housewife’s shredded chicken, pulled pork and falafels.

Grown up lunchbox 7

Boiled egg, cherry tomato, antipasto pasta salad, carrot sticks, salsa, melon chunks and banana and peanut butter

Dairy 

I don’t eat a lot of dairy but David is all about more cheese, please. If I add cheese to the lunch box, I’ll always do it with an extra fruit or veggie chaser. We include everything from bocconcini balls to cottage cheese. Cheese and apple, cheese and pineapple or cheese and grapes always go down a treat.

lunch box

Baked meatballs, cheddar chunks, grapes, apple slices, carrot sticks and hummus

 Sandwich alternatives

We rarely buy bread and if we do, freeze it for toasting or crumbing. These are our preferred grain alternatives and apart from the chips are all made from scratch.

Pesto and Cheddar Loaf (nf, vegetarian*)

Crepe roll ups (filled with ham and/or cheese) (nf, vegetarian)

Homemade crackers (gf, nf, df, vegan)

No bake Granola Bars (df, nf)

Natural corn chips (gf, nf, df, vegan)

Popcorn –  I’m currently fan girling on Cobbs (gf, nf)

*If using vegetarian parmesan alternative

Grown up lunch box 4

Black bean salad (leftovers,) cottage cheese and pickles, cherry tomatoes, pumpkin hummus, natural corn chips and melon chunks

Antipasto

We’re suckers for antipasto in this house. I think it adds a touch of budget luxury to the lunch box. Think olives, pickles, cold meat and for vegetarian options, we love this Antipasto Pasta Salad and the Kale and Basil Pesto Salad.


Lunchbox for grown ups

As if all these tips, tricks and recipes aren’t enough to tantalise your tastebuds perhaps I can tempt you with an exclusive reader discount? Simply head to Mini Hippo and  add the code TAT2017 at checkout to get 10% off for your order (valid until 9 May.)

Have you got all aboard the Yumbox train yet? What would you pack in yours?

Where to buy: Mini Hippo

Price: $39.95

I was sent one Yumbox original and one Yumbox Tapas to review. All opinions and deliciousness are entirely my own.

Linking up with Kylie for IBOT

  • So. Much. Yum!!!!!

  • I want a YumBox!!!!!

  • I’m going to buy some of these. They’ll be perfect for the kids, and I can do one up for me at the same time I do their lunches – it will make lunch so much easier and healthier!

    • I just bought 3. Yay!

    • I do mine at the same time as David’s and it’s so easy. I spend an hour here or there making some main events for the lunch boxes and stash them in the freezer. It makes everything so much easier!

  • So much goodness in one post Sammie! I am loving the idea of a yumbox, and like you, I ‘pack’ my lunch on home days as well. This style of lunchbox suits the way our family eats perfectly. Thanks for all the inspiration. xx

    • I think that’s what I love most is the variety. When I’m at home all day, if I sit down to one thing at lunch, I feel hungry afterwards and always want to snack. The Yumbox suits me much better because I can graze all day and don’t have to take time out from what I’m doing to make lunch. xx

  • Tracy

    I want someone to come and back me a Yumbox! We’re at the tail end of sending lunches to school here, but I think the kids who end up with lunches like that are the lucky ones!

    • There are no kids here (unless you count my man baby) but we still love to pack a lunch every day. That way, we know we’re getting something healthy and delicious every day.

  • merilyn

    they look terrific thankyou sammie!
    a lot of yum in one box! and the variety is endless!
    one would be excited to take lunches like these!
    i’m going to tell my daughter as she takes her lunch most days!
    enjoy your day lovely!
    much love m:)X

    • We really do get excited about taking lunch now and with a few favourites and a bit of rotation, the variety is as you say, endless! I think your daughter would love one of these. David’s lunch box has been the envy of the office! xx

  • I am moving in to your place so that you can prep me one of these babies each day! I am a shocker for lunch. A few of these boxes would change my life.
    Thanks so much for the lunch inspo. I will have to make more of a conscious effort to look after myself.

    • These boxes make packing lunch a breeze. Once that box is packed, I know I have something healthy and yummy to eat not just at lunch, but to graze on throughout the day. It’s so important to look after yourself, you know you’re worth it 🙂

  • I do admire your lunchboxes – I need to start snacking more. I fell off the snacking bandwagon but it’s what my dietitian needs me to do.

    • We perfectly balance each other out, you don’t snack enough, and I snack too much. Or at least I did before I got my Yumbox. It’s perfect for grazing!

  • All such fabulous ideas. I’d lost my lunch mojo but you have inspired me.

  • So many great ideas. Thanks for taking the time to note the distinctions like dairy free etc. So appreciated

    • I’m pleased the distinctions were useful. I would hate for anyone to waste their time and/or get their hopes up checking out recipes they couldn’t eat!

  • You have the BEST lunchboxes! Yummo!

  • so so so awesome Sammie. Esther has a yumbox and I need to buy more. Now I need to consider buying one for myself. Thank you for the inspiration. Love this post. x

  • Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella

    Super cute boxes Sammie! Can you tell me more about washing fruit and veg straight away? I thought they were supposed to be washed just before eating?

  • Can you come and pack my work lunchbox Sammie?! I love seeing your lunchbox posts on Instagram – delicious and pretty!

  • Wow – I’m very inspired. I really should be packing lunch and not buying it each day (three days and I’d save enough for one of these awesome lunch boxes).

    • We were only saying the other day, how much we’ve saved since we’ve been on the lunch box train. More than that, we feel so much better and you can’t put a price on that 🙂

  • I recently got into Bento Boxes and love the idea of creative and healthy little lunch boxes. These Yumboxes look like the perfect container for packing them in. Thanks 😀

    • We’ve tried a few bento boxes in the past, but they always leak or aren’t the right size but the Yumbox is just perfect. I love that it’s so easy to clean too 🙂

  • Oh my gosh, Sammie, this post is a veritable goldmine!!! I have pinned this so I can refer to it later, coz there are quite a few things I’m keen to try. I think I need to get myself a yumbox and pack myself a lunch so I don’t get caught up editing & writing and just snack on crap all day like I usually do. A little bit of prep will go a long way, and hopefully I can encourage Punky to try a few new things at school too!
    #teamIBOT

    • It’s been a game changer for me, even on at home days. I too get all caught up doing stuff and then eat rubbish for lunch so knowing that I have my lunch/snacks prepared for the day is just fab. I’ve stopped snacking too because everything I need is in my Yumbox. Granted making some of the lunch box essentials takes some time but it’s time well spent, and often it’s left overs or literally what I can find in the fridge. The good thing about Punky is that the compartments are small enough so if she doesn’t like one part of the box, she’s not going to go hungry!

  • Sarah

    How do the Yumboxes go with really juicy fruit like watermelon and oranges? I’m yet to find a lunchbox that doesn’t leak 😞

    • I’ve only tried watermelon at home and it doesn’t seem to leak. It certainly doesn’t leak with sloppy salsa either even when jiggled around in my bag 🙂

      • Sarah

        Thanks Sammie. I’ll be giving them a go then 😊

  • I love this lunchbox and have done so since I’ve seen your pics on Insta. Need to get myself one of these…seems so handy!