Most people think of Starbucks as a place to get coffee, not a meal or a snack. Truthfully, most of the Starbucks food items clock in with outrageously high numbers of calories and fat. Still, Starbucks can be quite the temptation if you enter the store with an empty stomach. Their new bistro boxes, however, stand apart from their crumb cakes and cake pops. They're lower in calories and a great option for healthy, on-the-go snacking or a light lunch or dinner.

We know several frequent fliers who rely on them for a consistent meal when they're hopping between flights. After all, most airports, no matter how small, have at least one Starbucks. We visited our nearest full-service Starbucks and picked up one of each bistro box. We liked them so much that we decided to take matters into our own hands and create these nifty snack boxes to take to work and school.

A sturdy square container or bento box of your choice is all you need to make these clutch mini-meals in the comfort of your own home. For dips or items that need to be separated, invest in a bento box that has built-in separators and compartments, or use muffin cups for dips and spreads. Paper liners will work if you're eating the box that day. If you're prepping snack packs ahead, look for silicone muffin liners.

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Build Your Own Snack Boxes

Cheese and Fruit Snack Box: apple slices; brie, gouda, and cheddar cheeses; whole-grain crackers; dried cranberries; roasted unsalted aslmonds

PB&J Snack Box: half peanut butter and fruit preserve sandwich on whole-wheat bread; apple slices; Greek yogurt ranch dressing; baby carrots; cucumber slices; low-moisture, part-skim mozzarella cheese stick; raisins

Protein Snack Box: no-sugar added peanut butter; hard-boiled egg; apple slices; grapes; cheddar cheese; 100% whole-grain pita

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Play around with different combinations of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats for a balanced and satisfying snack or meal. Try a hard-boiled egg with veggies, peanut butter and jelly on whole-wheat bread, or cheese and whole-wheat crackers. Toss in something sweet too, like craisins and almonds, dark chocolate, or a piece of fruit. Stick to smaller portions of cheese and nut butters to keep calories in check. Pack these snack boxes at the beginning of the week, and keep a stash for days when you just don't get around to sitting down for lunch. They're an easy way to guarantee you still eat but don't blow your daily goals.

 

This article originally appeared on CookingLight.com.