Weeknight Winners: Compact Recipes Perfect For Travel

These five bento-box recipes are compact and perfect for travel.

Travel Like A Pro

Nothing is worse than a limp, overpriced airport salad or trying to piece together convenience-store snacks into a meal when traveling. One day of poor nutrition can impact several days of training or even an upcoming race. Organize and compartmentalize your food, like you do your suitcase, with these five bento-box recipes that are compact and perfect for travel. Try out these bright recipes that keep the ingredients separate and fresh.

Kale Cobb With Smoked Salmon

Boost your immunity with this anything-but-ordinary cobb salad. Packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to ward off travel bugs and a healthy dose of omega-3s to fight inflammation, you will stay on track with your fitness goals.


  • 1 small golden beet, peeled and sliced
  • 1 small red beet, peeled and sliced
  • 4 cups packed chopped kale
  • ½ cup shredded carrot
  • 1 Tbsp fresh mint
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp honey
  • ½ cup hearts of palm, sliced
  • ½ cup sliced strawberries
  • ½ cup blueberries
  • 2 Tbsp crumbled feta
  • 6 oz. smoked salmon
  • 2 soft- or hard-boiled eggs


Heat oven to 450 degrees. Toss beets with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast 15 to 20 minutes, tossing once, until tender. Remove and let cool. Toss the kale, carrot and mint with the lemon juice, oil, honey and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Divide the beets into a compartment in the boxes. Divide the kale into another compartment in boxes, and top each with ¼ cup of the hearts of palm, strawberries and blueberries. Sprinkle 1 Tbsp feta over the top of each. Place 3 oz. of salmon and 1 hard-boiled egg, sliced in half, in the last compartment in each box.

Shrimp And Quinoa With Mango-Cucumber Salad

When you’re craving a light and refreshing meal during a long day of traveling, this dish will keep your energy levels steady. Loaded with lean protein that will keep you comfortably full plus a hydrating salad, you will successfully combat an exhausting travel day.


  • 10 jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1⅓ cup cooked quinoa
  • 1 cup English cucumber, diced
  • 1 cup mango, diced
  • ⅓ cup fennel, thinly sliced
  • 6 fresh basil leaves, julienned
  • 2 Tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 2 limes (juiced)
  • 1 orange (juiced)


Heat oven to 450 degrees. Toss the shrimp with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast on a baking sheet two minutes per side. In a bowl, toss together the cucumber, mango, fennel, herbs and citrus. Divide the salad into a compartment in each of the boxes. Place ⅔ cup quinoa in another compartment of each, and five shrimp in the last.

Thai Meatballs With Coconut Rice And Broccolini

These meatballs and coconut rice are perfect on the go because they stay nice and moist, even when not reheated. Plus, this meal is nutrient-dense and full of flavor, to keep you from bonking during travel.


  • 8 oz. 90 percent lean ground beef
  • ½ red onion, grated
  • ¼ cup quick oats
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tbsp ketchup
  • 1 Tbsp Thai chili-garlic sauce
  • 2 tsp low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 cup jasmine rice
  • ¾ cup water
  • ½ cup canned full-fat coconut milk
  • 1 small bunch broccolini


Heat oven to 450 degrees. Combine ingredients from beef through turmeric in a bowl. Roll eight small meatballs. Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a large oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat. Place the meatballs in the pan and sear for 90 seconds per side, then transfer to the oven for eight to 10 minutes, until desired doneness is reached. Drain and rinse the rice. Place it in a pot with the water, coconut milk and salt, cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook until fluffy, about 15 minutes. Toss the broccolini with a small amount of olive oil, salt and pepper. Once meatballs are done, cook on top shelf of oven for five minutes, turning once. Place four meatballs, 1 cup rice and half the broccolini in a compartment in each box.

Olive Oil Chicken Salad With Pita And Fruit

This recipe doubles as a meal or a hefty snack. A briny chicken salad cures that salt craving and will keep you away from empty calorie snacks. Paired with a beautiful fruit salad, it’s a treat you will look forward to.


  • 8 oz. cooked chicken breast, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup green olives, roughly chopped
  • 2 Tbsp Marcona almonds, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp celery, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp shallot, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp capers
  • 1 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 pieces pita or naan bread
  • 1 small apple, chopped
  • 1 blood orange, segmented
  • 2 kiwis, peeled and sliced


In a bowl, combine all ingredients from chicken through vinegar. Divide into one compartment in each box. Slice the pita/naan and place in another compartment. Toss together the fruit and put in the final compartment in the boxes.

Sesame Soba Noodles With Carrot Seaweed Salad

Seaweed snacks make a creative appearance in this bento box, adding a pop of texture and salt to steamed veggies. Tossed with rich, nutty soba noodles, you will be satisfied and happy that you planned this meal ahead.


  • 4 oz. soba noodles
  • 1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 2 Tbsp scallions, sliced
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds
  • 1½ cups carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 1½ cup green beans, diced
  • 4 sheets seaweed snacks
  • 1 cup kimchi


Cook soba noodles to al dente in salted water. Immediately transfer to a colander and rinse with cold water. Drain thoroughly and then toss with the sesame oil, sesame seeds and scallions. Steam the carrots and green beans for three to four minutes, leaving slightly crunchy. Let cool completely. Crumble the seaweed snacks into the veggies and toss to combine. Divide the soba noodles, veggies and kimchi among the compartments in the boxes.


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