Food & Home

3 Packable Lunch Bowls to Prevent the 4 O’Clock Slump

Written by: Seamus Mullen


Updated on: March 6, 2023


Lunch is definitely my favorite meal of the day. As someone who regularly practices intermittent fasting, I look at it as my powerhouse meal: It’s when I break my fast and set myself up for the rest of the day.

I’m a fan of eating the bulk of my calories in the middle of the day. But in order to stay sated until dinner, I need to make sure I’m getting well-balanced macronutrients: protein from lean meats, fish, or legumes; a sensible amount of healthy fats, like olive oil and avocado; and grains and vegetables for fiber as well as the micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) I need.

And of course, as a chef, making sure the food is delicious is priority number one. Creating a lunch that ticks all of those nutritional boxes, tastes amazing, and travels well may seem difficult, but it’s totally doable. I developed three grain bowls, loosely inspired by the healthy but fully loaded Japanese chirashi bowls I’m obsessed with. Instead of sushi rice, each of these bowls uses a different ancient grain as a base—millet, farro, and wild rice. They all incorporate an array of vegetables, just enough protein and healthy fat, and plenty of umami-rich flavors from two of my favorite healthy-food destinations: the Mediterranean and Japan. Take a break from your usual chopped salad. I think you’ll be surprised by how easy and delicious a packed lunch can be.

  • Sardine, Avocado, and Crunchy Veggie Millet Bowl

    Sardine, Avocado, and Crunchy Veggie Millet Bowl

    “When I eat this, I feel as if I could walk through walls and climb on the ceiling. The millet is great for people with food sensitivities because it’s gluten-free and hypoallergenic. It’s a very filling base for a lunch bowl and adds textural contrast to the crunchy bok choy. Sardines and avocados pack this dish with micronutrients and sensible fats. And it’s all topped with crunchy-salty furikake—don’t sleep on this ingredient. It’s worth the extra trip to the Asian market.”
    —Seamus Mullen


  • Farro and Tuna Bowl

    Farro and Tuna Bowl

    “This is the flavor of summer in Italy, and it takes only a few minutes to make. Look out for Sungolds during peak tomato season, but regular cherry tomatoes will work great here as well.” —Seamus Mullen


  • Greekish Wild Rice Bowl

    Greekish Wild Rice Bowl

    “I fell in love with all of these flavors while in Greece, and as soon as I got home, I made a ‘kitchen sink’ salad. The wild rice base might not be traditionally Greek, but it adds a nutritional element; wild rice comes from a different species of aquatic grass than white or brown rice, and it’s significantly lower in carbohydrates. I love the heft it gives the bowl, and the wild rice’s nutty flavor combined with the brine-y olives and artichokes totally works.” —Seamus Mullen