my college lunchbox.

by Hillary on September 27, 2011

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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{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Lauren September 28, 2011 at 2:48 am

Your eats always look so clean and delicious!


Lauren @ What Lauren Likes September 28, 2011 at 3:55 am

Wow! Your lunchbox actually gave me some ideas for mine! Thanks :)


Maura K September 28, 2011 at 4:54 am

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


Kristin September 28, 2011 at 6:35 am

LOVE these ideas! Definitely going to start packing some of these for when I’m stuck on campus for hours. Thanks!


Tessa @ Amazing Asset September 28, 2011 at 6:51 am

These are great snacks!! I always carry around dried fruit, dry cereal and almonds with me, along with a few granola bars. I get nervous about being stuck somewhere without food!


Allison September 28, 2011 at 9:06 am

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!


Danielle September 28, 2011 at 9:20 am

Thanks for answering my tweet, Hillary! This was exactly what I was looking for :)


Haley @ Health Freak College Girl September 28, 2011 at 12:07 pm

thanks for this post! i will definitely be implementing some of these into my daily routine :)


Rachel September 28, 2011 at 5:34 pm

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!


Hillary September 28, 2011 at 6:17 pm

I never eat whole apples either… never ;)


Heather @ Get Healthy with Heather September 29, 2011 at 7:05 am

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.


Chantel September 29, 2011 at 7:54 am

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 September 29, 2011 at 7:58 am

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 :)


Jen@FoodFamilyFitness September 29, 2011 at 10:23 am

You just gave me some awesome ideas for my kids’ lunchboxes!!! I always make their sandwiches on frozen bread and they are surprised every day how it’s not frozen anymore. I tell them I’m magic ;)


Becky @ Skinnyfat Girls September 29, 2011 at 10:57 am

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! :)


Malia @ Life is Good Girl September 29, 2011 at 11:35 am

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?


Hillary September 29, 2011 at 3:19 pm

They don’t taste bitter to me.


Paige @ Running Around Normal October 1, 2011 at 3:21 pm

Mine looks pretty similar, but not as pretty!
And if you asked me in college, it would have been waaayyyy different ;)


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