Beefy Burrito Bowls – Easy Lunchbox Recipe

Transform last night’s leftovers into a clever, customizable lunchbox recipe for work or school by packing Beefy Burrito Bowls. This lunchbox idea is so deliciously simple that even the pickiest of eaters will be pleased.

This blog post is a collaboration with Beef. It’s What’s for Dinner, on behalf of the Beef Checkoff. I’m excited to share one of my family’s favorite lunchbox recipes and, as always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.


I imagine your school mornings are a lot like ours—someone is running around looking for shoes, someone is hunting a backpack or dance leotard for later that afternoon, someone is throwing together lunches, snacks, and water bottles….you get the idea. (And let’s be honest, sometimes that “someone” is ME for all of the above!) While we strive and aim to have uniforms pulled out the night before, lunches packed, backpacks by the door with forms signed and after school activity bags loaded in the car, the reality is that sometimes that is just not reality. But that’s okay because that is where a special recipe can step in and make life so much easier!


Remember how I was talking about those after school activities? You know the ones. The ones that get you home well past dinnertime (meaning dinner is done in a drive thru). Well, I have a SIMPLE, make-ahead recipe that works DOUBLE DUTY for both dinner AND lunchboxes that even your picky eaters will eat. This family-friendly recipe features lean ground beef along with a host of other nutritious ingredients.

Enter Beefy Burrito Bowls…

The beauty of this recipe is that you can transform last night’s dinner leftovers into a delicious, well-balanced lunchbox. Better yet, it can easily be customized to suit everyone’s flavor preferences without turning you into a short-order cook. Here’s how I do it:

Beefy Burrito Bowls, from Holley Grainger

When I need a speedy dinner:

Make the Beefy Burrito Bowls as the recipe calls for using whichever shortcut ingredient I have on-hand. Remember, many parts of this recipe can be made ahead for nights when there is no time to cook. Go ahead and prepare the ground beef (cook until done and store in an airtight container in the fridge), chop the tomatoes, rinse the beans, etc. When it is time to eat, everyone makes their own burrito bowl customizing it to their liking.

Beefy Burrito Bowls, from Holley Grainger

When I need a speedy dinner and want lunchbox leftovers:

Double the recipe using half for dinner (as described above) and save the other half for making lunchboxes.

Quick tip: Pack the lunches as soon as you’re finished with dinner and refrigerate to keep from handling leftovers twice.

Beefy Burrito Bowls, from Holley Grainger

When I need to pack lunchboxes for the whole family (Mommy and Daddy included):

Make the recipe as called for. Pack lunches. Refrigerate overnight and keep refrigerated or on ice until ready to eat

The beauty of a burrito bowl is that the ingredients work together to provide a variety of nutrients that our bodies need from many sources. For example, one 3-oz serving of beef is a great source of 10 essential nutrients, including zinc, iron, B Vitamins and protein. Many children are deficient in zinc and iron, two nutrients that are important for providing energy and aiding in healthy brain development. Serve ground beef alongside rice, tomatoes, avocado, beans, and other ingredients in this Beefy Burrito Bowl. It is just one more way to help fuel our active kiddos.

Whether you choose to make Beefy Burrito Bowls for a last-minute dinner, a work or school lunchbox or both, here are a few more clever tips to round out the recipe.

  1. Keep lunchbox refrigerated or on ice until ready to eat.
  2. Toss avocados in lime juice and store in an airtight container to slow browning.
  3. You only need a few tablespoons of each ingredient to top a burrito bowl so cut back on food waste and do a little refrigerator digging and use ingredients close to spoiling as toppings.
  4. Swap rice for lettuce to make a hearty taco salad.
  5. Swap ground beef for thinly sliced (leftover) steak.

Do you use leftovers for lunchboxes? What are some of your favorite recipes that carry over to the next day’s meal? Tell me in the comments!

Love beef in your lunchbox?

Mini Taco Cups from Holley Grainger
Try Mini Taco Cups!

Check out some other simple and clever lunchboxes at our Lunchbox Headquarters.

Pin this recipe!!

Beefy Burrito Bowl Lunchbox Recipe from Holley Grainger


Beefy Burrito Bowls, from Holley Grainger

Beefy Burrito Bowls

  • Author: Holley Grainger
  • Yield: 4 Lunchbox-Sized burrito bowls 1x
  • Category: Main Dish, Lunch, Lunchbox
  • Cuisine: Mexican, Latin American


  • 1 pound lean ground beef (90% or leaner)
  • 1 tablespoon low-sodium taco seasoning
  • 2 cups cooked brown rice
  • ½ cup black beans (rinsed and drained)
  • ½ cup chopped tomatoes
  • ½ cup frozen corn kernels (defrosted)
  • ¼ cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 avocado (cubed)
  • ½ cup salsa
  • Optional toppings: olives (radishes, guacamole, Pico de Gallo, crushed tortilla chips, chopped cilantro, chopped lettuce)


  1. Heat large nonstick skillet over medium heat until hot. Add Ground Beef and seasoning; cook 8 to 10 minutes, breaking beef into 3/4-inch crumbles and stirring occasionally. Remove drippings. Cook’s Tip: Cooking times are for fresh or thoroughly thawed Ground Beef. Ground Beef should be cooked to an internal temperature of 160°F. Color is not a reliable indicator of Ground Beef doneness.
  2. Divide rice evenly among 4 lunchboxes (1/2 cup each). Top the rice in each box with seasoned ground beef (1/2 cup each). Top each with 2 tablespoons black beans, 2 tablespoons tomatoes, 2 tablespoons corn kernels, 1 tablespoon cheddar cheese and 1/4 of an avocado.
  3. Top each burrito bowl evenly with salsa (2 tablespoons each) or place salsa in a separate container. Customize with optional toppings, if desired. Top each container with an airtight lid or plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator until ready to transport. Store in an insulated container with an ice pack or in a refrigerator during the day at work or school.


Note: 16-ounces (1 pound) of lean ground beef yields about 2 to 2¼ cups cooked ground beef.