my college lunchbox.

I got a request on Twitter to post about my top healthy school lunches. Lunch is probably the least mentioned meal on the blog – not because I don’t eat lunch – but because it doesn’t strike my fancy as do breakfast and baked goods ;)

As a busy college student, it would be easy to let my nutritious diet lifestyle go by the wayside. With random class schedules, that vary from semester to semester, a ‘square’ mid-day meal isn’t always doable.

Without an insulated lunchbox or cooler, I usually pack a variety of non-perishable items that I think will hold my hunger for the time that I’m on campus. Some days our bodies are hungrier than others – naturally – so I allow my intuitive cues to influence what I pack.

As a lacto-ovo vegetarian, my school snacks include, but aren’t limited to:

homemade granola bars

gluten-free bars, such as: Bumble Bars, Larabars & Pure Bars

sliced raw veggies – apple + carrot is a favorite combo

dried fruit

nut butter/banana/chia seed/honey sandwiches

TIP: keep sliced sandwich bread in the freezer for longer storage; you can make your sandwich on frozen bread and it will be thawed by lunchtime

I will also pack dairy (apple with cheese, Greek yogurt with granola) and hard boiled eggs if I plan to eat them within a couple of hours.

FOOD SAFETY TIP: cold food should be held <41F while hot food should be held >135F

beverages: iced green tea & water

If find myself at home during the lunch hour, I’ll often throw together a salad beast (my new favorite kale black bean salad is lunchbox friendly), a brown rice tortilla/veggie burger wrap, or Green Monster smoothie.

Per my food philosophy, I try to make every meal I eat as colorful as possible.

Being a healthy student does not have to be difficult. If you have questions about my eating habits as a college foodie on the run, please do not hesitate to ask :)


What’s in your lunchbox?


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  1. Maura K says

    I’ve been looking for inspiration on what to bring to work for lunch. I’ll definitely use these tips!! Thanks, Hillary!!

  2. says

    I prefer to pack my lunch than worry about finding something to eat out on the run and spending money… Usually I’ll pack: veggies, fruit, some type of protein [yogurt, string cheese, turkey, ham, tuna], chips/ crackers, and something sweet to end on :) Oh, and a power bar for mid-afternoon fuel!

  3. says

    ziplock bags and mini tupperwares are my best friends! i love packing lunch/dinner, cuz i usually have to for work. i agree that veggies are great because they keep. sometimes i’ll heat up a frozen wrap and bring that along because i don’t exactly have to worry about it going bad. this is totally weird, but i hardly ever bring apples because i will ONLY eat an apple if it’s cored and in slices, i won’t bite into them (i just hate getting it between my teeth… really weird). i love love love apples, but i just won’t bring them and have to deal with finding a knife to cut them. i think packing snacks is so wise, and you’re so dead on in saying being a college student and eating nutritiously are not mutually exclusive!

    thanks for commenting on my site, i’m so glad to have been able to find yours in return!

  4. says

    Great lunch items! Luckily for me, I have access to a fridge at my work so I can bring leftovers for lunch + veggies, yogurts, hard boiled eggs and other snacky items. Sometimes granola bars when I make them, but usually nuts/dried fruit as an easy grab n go snack.

  5. Chantel says

    This is so great!
    My problem is how do I get it to school? My school bag is full of books and my laptop. It would get smushed in a ziplock bag and I can’t really fit tupperware in there. Any suggestions?

    • Hillary says

      Hmmm… I struggle with the same problem. Yesterday my Greek yogurt leaked in my book bag. Most days I do put my food in a separate bag to avoid such problems. Universities should have lockers :)

  6. says

    This is so important because I think lunch is a giant problem for people trying to adopt a healthy lifestyle. Being at home for breakfast and dinner makes it easy to prepare a healthy meal, but many people don’t take the time to pack a nutritious lunch and end up getting fast food out of convenience or as a last resort. It’s crucial to take the time to prepare a healthy lunch – great tips! :)

  7. says

    Does anyone else think chia seeds taste bitter? Or is it just me? I’ve tried mixing them into yogurt, smoothies and sprinkled on PB sandwiches. I’ve just started taking a “shot” of them then rinsing ’em down with a gulp of water. Anybody have any suggestions?

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