The One Formula You Need to Make the Perfect Lunch Bowl

By Abbey Hybl | Eating Well Magazine

Easy tips and recipe ideas for a healthy packable lunch to bring to work.


For me, packing healthy lunches for work is a must. Lunch is a time to refocus and refuel during a busy day. If you’re one of those people who eats lunch out every day, because you don’t think you have the time to pack your own, rethink that strategy! All you need is 30 minutes to an hour on the weekend to prep your bowls using this simple formula for endless healthy lunch-bowl combos—you’ll want to try a new bowl every week. You’ll eat healthier and you might even save some cash too.

Related: Healthy Buddha Bowl Recipes That Will Keep You Satisfied

1. Prep Your Ingredients

Chipotle Chicken Burrito Bowl with Cauliflower Rice

Pictured Recipe: Chipotle Chicken Burrito Bowl with Cauliflower Rice

Before assembling your bowls for the week, cook up batches of protein, grains and veggies (see our suggestions below). Or use whatever leftovers you have from dinner. Also, make sure you’re well-equipped. For grab-and-go bowls, you’ll need bowls with tight-fitting lids or airtight containers.

2. Lay Down the Whole-Grain Base

Roasted Veggie Brown Rice Buddha Bowl

Pictured Recipe: Roasted Veggie Brown Rice Buddha Bowl

Start with 1/2 cup of cooked whole grains per serving for a satisfying fiber punch.

• Quinoa
• Bulgur
• Brown rice
• Farro
• Barley

Related:  Healthy Grain Bowl Recipes

3. Add Your Veggies

Edamame and Veggie Rice Bowl

Pictured Recipe: Edamame & Veggie Rice Bowl

Shoot for 1 cup of vegetables (or 2 cups of leafy greens) in each lunch bowl. You can leave them raw or sauté, grill or roast your vegetables.

• Dark leafy greens (like kale and spinach)
• Asparagus
• Cherry tomatoes
• Eggplant
• Zucchini
• Cucumber
• Onion
• Shredded cabbage
• Cauliflower
• Sweet potatoes
• Broccoli
• Beets
• Squash
• Carrots
• Avocado

4. Add Your Protein Source

Roasted Salmon Rice Bowl with Beets and Brussels

Pictured Recipe: Roasted Salmon Rice Bowl with Beets & Brussels

Fill each bowl with 3-4 ounces of lean, cooked protein.

• Chicken
• Pork
• Beef
• Shrimp
• Tofu
• Beans

5. Sauce It Off

Vegan Buddha Bowl

Pictured Recipe: Vegan Buddha Bowl

The sauce is what really sets the stage for a flavorful lunch bowl—add 2 to 4 tablespoons of sauce per bowl. For packable lunches, keep your sauce or dressing in a separate container, then drizzle and toss when you’re ready to eat!

• Romesco
• Salsa
• Pesto
• Hummus
• Miso
• Sriracha
• Hot sauce
• Vinaigrette

6. Jazz It Up with a Garnish

Rainbow Buddha Bowl

Pictured Recipe: Rainbow Buddha Bowl

Not only do the final toppings add flavor and texture, they also make your lunch bowl totally Instagrammable. Sprinkle on to taste.

• Shredded or crumbled cheese
• Olives
• Chopped fresh herbs
• Sesame seeds
• Lime wedges

This article first appeared in the EatingWell Magazine.


Nutrition Blogger

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