Protein Box Lunches are a delicious, healthy option to add to your weekly meal planning ideas. Cashews, almonds, hard boiled eggs and cheese provide enough protein to keep you full until dinner! Sweet fruit cut into easy to eat pieces and crackers for the cheese make this a complete grab-and-go lunch.
Thinking of new ideas for weekday lunches can be kind of a chore. I like to come up with ideas for homemade lunches that I can make ahead of time as a “grab and go” option, similar to the Italian Chopped Salads (try them too!). Meal planning can take time, so any option that gives you multiple meals with the same ingredients is a great option in my book.
I love the protein boxes from Starbucks (have you tried one?) and wanted to come up with a similar idea for a homemade version. These protein box lunches are one of my favorites because you get lots of protein from the eggs, cheese and nuts. Besides being delicious, the protein also helps keep you full, hopefully until dinner!
These protein box lunches are all about choices. I like to have cheese, eggs and nuts as the protein because they store well in the refrigerator for a few days and are all high quality choices for protein. If you think other kinds of protein rich foods would be better, then you can use those!
Choose one or two of your favorite cheeses, I picked gouda and pepper jack. For the mixed nuts I chose cashews and almonds, but any kind of nut will do. Unless you don’t feel like a nut. Because, sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don’t.
I chose grapes and apples for the fruit in the box lunches for two reasons. My store had a really good deal on grapes, and I’m kind of an apple fanatic, Opal and Honeycrisp varieties in particular. Not only are they crisp and sweet, but these varieties were created by the agriculture department of my alma mater, the University of Minnesota. So I take pride in these apples, while acknowledging I had nothing to do with their creation.
If you don’t like eggs, or don’t feel like having the same ingredients in each box, you can substitute a nut butter (peanut, almond, or my favorite cashew) and different kinds of crackers in the protein box lunches. I would put the nut butter in a covered small container instead of a silicon cup though. This will help to avoid any messy spills.
Start your preparation by making your hard boiled eggs. It’s best to do this the day before so they are nice and cold when you’re packing your awesome protein box lunches. If you’re looking for an easy technique for making hard boiled eggs, check out this link.
The only other prep work is to cut your apples (or whatever kind of fruit you’re using) and slice the cheese.
For assembly, I like to use rectangular containers, plastic wrap, snack sized baggies and silicon baking cups. I love the size and quality of these Rubbermaid containers (I used the 3.2 cup size). I found them at Target, but you can also order them on Amazon. Of course you can use whatever similar sized containers you have on hand.
I’ve had a box of silicon baking cups in my cupboard for months. While I’ve never tried them for baking, I found that they make great, reusable containers for box lunches! You can use paper liners too if you have some of those.
Portion your fruit into the snack sized baggies and place in your container. You’ll use two of the silicon baking cups in each container too, so go ahead and put those in. Add the nuts and the eggs* to the cups.
*I like to keep the hard boiled eggs in their shells because I like to have salt with my eggs. If you leave the eggs in their shells, you can add salt to the silicon cup and put the egg right on top of it. If you peel the egg, the moisture from the egg might make the salt gooey while it’s in the fridge. If you don’t use salt on your eggs, or are going to eat lunch within reach of a salt shaker, then feel free to peel them ahead of time.
The final assembly step is to wrap your cheese and crackers tightly in plastic wrap. This will keep them nice and fresh and delicious while they are hanging out in the fridge. Add them to your protein box, and you are all set!
Unless you want to add some chocolate to your cashews and almonds. Which I highly recommend. After all, a little chocolate is good for you, right? You can call it trail mix if that makes it sound healthier.
You have just set yourself up for success! Protein box lunches, done. Grab one as you’re running out the door this week. Or grab one as you as are doing twelve things at once at home! You’re going to love the convenience, not to mention all the delicious goodies you’ve packed up.
If you’re making lunches for multiple people, or just like to switch things up each day, make these protein box lunches and the Italian chopped salads this Sunday. You won’t believe how relaxed you’ll feel knowing you’ve already made your delicious lunches for the week! You also won’t be tempted by mid-day hunger into making a bad choice (hello all you can eat buffet!) or spending a lot of money eating out.
- 4 Hard Boiled Eggs (with salt, if desired)
- 4 thick sliced cheese, I used gouda and pepper jack
- Mixed roasted, salted nuts, I used cashews and almonds (plus M&M's, optional)
- Fruit, I used grapes and apples
- Crackers, I used Triscuits
- Gather your box lunch containers, snack sized baggies, plastic wrap and silicon (reusable) baking cups.
- Hard boil the eggs the day before so they are nice and cold.
- Slice the cheese and cut the fruit into bite sized pieces.
- Assemble the boxes: Add the fruit to snack sized baggies and place in the boxes.
- Add nuts and chocolate to one baking cup, add salt and unpeeled egg to another baking cup. Place in the boxes.
- Tightly wrap the cheese and crackers in plastic wrap (in daily portions). Add to the boxes.
- Cover the boxes and place in the refrigerator until you're ready for a great lunch!