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Portable Lunch Ideas

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Never worry again about staying healthy on vacation. Just read all of the comments left yesterday re: “Healthy-eating on Vacation.” Thank you all for taking the time to leave such a plethora of good advice.

Yesterday, I mentioned some portable snack ideas for healthy eating when you’re not at home. But sometimes—especially on vacations—circumstances call for portable meals as well as snacks.

That’s where tupperware comes in!

And coolers. Coolers are your best friends. Basically anything can be turned into a portable meal if put into a tupperware container (and then, optionally, a cooler). Okay, maybe not anything. Leave the Vita-Mix ice cream at home! Another good idea is to bring part of a meal and supplement the rest with something you buy while out. And even more options are open to you if you’re strange lucky like me in that you actually prefer most foods at room temperature or cold.

Some of my favorite portable lunches include: Soups, salads, sandwiches, blended grain puddings, and stir fries. Sometimes, it’s easier to “picture” meals when there are actual pictures (go figure). So I put together a photo essay with some ideas:

Starting with the Banana Butter

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And then there’s also: Strawberry Shortcake Sandwich


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Either savory or sweet Love Muffins


All the Way Arame Salad


Soups, such as “No Cream” Cream Of Broccoli Soup

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Pasta salads (w/veggies and dressing, like Newman’s sesame) or any cold pasta dish


“Somewhere over the Rainbow” Sandwich


And finally, salads, such as “Colonel Mustard” Salad

I could go on and on with my portable meal photos, especially with soups, salads, and leftovers. But everyone knows what a stir fry looks like, so I’ll spare you.

Photos in order of appearance:


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Katie is the baker, photographer, and author of the popular blog Chocolate-Covered Katie. Her favorite food is chocolate, and she believes in eating a balanced diet that includes dessert every single day. More about Katie—> 

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  1. abby says:

    wowowowowow that “strawberry shortcake” sammie looks amazing!!!

  2. I must say, banana butter makes THE BEST grilled peanut butter and banana sandwich. Everyone should try that. 😉 And for portable options, I’ve been packing up my mango salsa to the pool. It’s easy to put into tupperware, and it’s excellent with corn chips. 🙂

  3. Rick says:

    my new favorite portable lunch is sprouted quinoa tabbhouli…amazing stuff

  4. Leslie says:

    I’m with you on the salad thing. I like wilted lettuce, so I’m always happy to pack my salads in the AM. But I could go down with that carrot cake sandwich too!

  5. Jenny says:

    I love veggie wraps with goat cheese! Yumm:)

  6. My favorite portable lunches are probably Clif bars or something like that, so my clumsy self doesn’t end up with a handbag full of noodles or salad… 😀
    You’re so sweet to even care about not being able to reply while you’re on vacation!

  7. I love your food 😀
    I like big salads as portable lunches..and the occasional sandwich, but I’m really not a sandwich person 🙁

  8. Sarah says:

    Aw do NOT NOT worry about getting back to my email (or any others) anytime soon. Just enjoy your vacation and get back to me when you can :).

  9. Jennifer - jcd says:

    Oooh, your carrot cake sandwich looks like a great lunch! I think I’ll try that next week.

    I like eating most things cold or room temperature as well, so it’s not uncommon for me to take leftovers to work for lunch. Otherwise, our favourite portable meals include celery with peanut butter and raisins (celery canoes/ants on a log), quinoa mixed with fruit and veggies with a light dressing, muffins, fudge babies, cold pasta salad (sans mayo), pita pizzas, cold pancakes, veggies in a rice paper? wrap, and baked beans alone or in burritos.

  10. JCD,
    Yay! I’m not the only crazy one who doesn’t like hot foods! Actually, it’s not that I don’t like hot foods, it’s just that they get cold so quickly that I’ve just learned to like the foods cold because it’s such a pain having to get up between courses all the time to re-heat food!

  11. Sarah,
    I will get back to ya soon, I promise :).

  12. Sarahishealthy says:

    I love the photo essay! You should do more of those because your pictures always look so yummy. 🙂

  13. welshsarah says:

    I love salads as portable lunches, and i’m addicted to tupperware! What a life saver. Is it weird that I often like to eat my lunch out of a tupperware lunch box even when I’m at home?

    For example, see


  14. Marina says:

    Thanks for the amazing ideas! I usually pack some kind of sandwiches, salads, or maybe some kind of stir fry, grains and veggies. I always try to make something yummy, that tastes good cold and won’t spill in my backpack 😀

  15. Danielle says:

    I totally agree- anything that can fit in a tupperware container is portable! I even bought these nifty containers that have different sized sections so you can pack different things without them mixing together. Sort of like an “adult lunchbox” 😀

    I forgot I still had some Arame left!

  16. mapledreams says:

    OOOhh some really creative and delicious looking ideas, i’d never have thought of a few of them! (espescially the over the rainbow sarnie!) i don’t think i really have a portable lunch fave as i don’t tend to eat on the go! but i would never say no to a delicious wrap xx

  17. I still really need to try your open-faced carrot cake sandwich!!

  18. Cecilia says:

    Hey Katie, this is going to be a totally off topic comment, but I wanted to ask you for a favour.

    Can you please recommend me some beauty (make up stuff), that is cruelty free – ones that are sort of readily available?? I recently looked up the brands of most of my favourite make up stuff and I am so sad/angry that they carry out animal testing (i.e: not Bobbie approved) 🙁

    Thank you so much for your suggestions, it will be greatly appreciated 🙂

    1. Cecilia,
      Aww poor Bobbbie!! It’s hard to believe that companies are allowed to force chemicals and needles and toxic products into little guys like Bobbie :(.
      My favorite make up products are by Urban Decay and Clinique. But if you go here, you can find a whole list:

  19. emily says:

    i love all the lunch / eating on vacation ideas. figuring out how to handle those situations adds anxiety that’s more fun to go without. 😉

    a few questions i had– unrelated to your post– just if you have the time.
    – i made your blended barley for the first time (as in: i’d never even had barley before) the other night with trader joe’s chickenless strips on the side, & i was glad to branch out. i found it a little lacking in flavor, though. i added a couple seasonings (italian seasoning grinder, freshly ground black pepper & kosher salt) but was interested in your thoughts…. whether you ever add anything or just have it as is.
    – i want to try your adorable love muffins. 🙂 i’m lacto-ovo & don’t have ener-g egg replacer. do you know how much egg (i use eggbeaters or egg whites) to use instead of the 1 1/2 tsp. called for? i know it can change the liquid amount or something.

    thank you! 🙂 & enjoy your vacation (i’m sure you are!).

    1. Emily,
      If you add just a smidge of butter (or vegan butter such as Smart Balance light), it really ups the flavor :).

      It says on the back of my egg replacer box that 1 and 1/2 tsp ener-g is equal to one egg. I hope that helps!!

  20. Ilana says:

    Oh maaaan. I love your Chocolate Covered Food Porn posts. Seeeriously. Good thing I’m eating lunch right now while I read this or I’d be really hungry!! My portable lunches and dinners of choice are salads – I pack a container with the greens and most of the veggies and usually bring some oil, half a lemon, and half an avocado in separate baggies or containers.

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