Did you know competitive lunch box packing was a thing?! I did not, though I suppose it comes as no surprise given the who-does-it-best direction parent-centric marketing and culture has gone… but yeah it’s A THING.
I am lucky to send my kids to a school that provides free lunches for all students, up to a certain age. But it, like most other state school lunch programmes in England, can come up short when it comes to providing nutritious and simultaneously interesting food that I would choose to serve my children on a regular basis. I have never tasted it so I cannot comment on flavour from a place of knowledge, but there is only so much jacket potato with coleslaw or quorn frankfurter one can take before looking towards whatever dessert is provided to fill up the tummy.
So we balance packed lunches with school lunches, which for the most part is manageable, both with time and with food budget. It’s early in the school year so I’m still tucking in notes and little surprises on the days that I send them to school with a lunch. Circle back to this next June (or um, January) and you might hear a different story.
I feel like the ‘healthy snack for kids’ industry has already taken quite enough of my money over the years, and the landfill has also taken a sizeable portion of wrappers from our purchases, so I am attempting to keep both in mind (along with my sanity) when it comes to packing lunches at the end of a long day. Some days are better than others. This chicken salad, however, is one easy dish I keep coming back to; exchanging one veg for another, depending on what’s in the fridge.
Ten minutes or less of prep and it’s done and covers protein, veg, dairy and good fats all in one go- plus the girls love it and ask for it regularly. Often times I’ll double the amount and set myself up for lunch as well, so I have less to think about later when the tummy starts to rumble.
This week we used up our leftover lemon and honey chicken thighs by making it, along with some blanched green beans. A few weeks ago I bought a rotisserie chicken and used a breast along with a red pepper to make the same thing. Leftover barbecue chicken is also a major win the next day in this dish. Delicious, easy and stretched the budget a bit further without being labour intensive. What’s not to like? Three major ingredients five or six if you count lemon, olive oil and salt. .
Three (to six) ingredient Chicken Salad
1 cooked skinless, boneless free range chicken breast or 2 chicken thighs
4-5 tablespoons Greek style full fat yoghurt
1 red pepper, finely diced (interchangeable with any other sweet pepper, 75g cooked green beans, grated carrot, or finely chopped greens)
zest of 1/2 lemon plus juice if desired
1 good pinch sea salt
drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
Chop ingredients, mix together with yoghurt, add herbs or additional sauces (bbq, mustard, sriracha) or spices (chili powder, cumin) if desired and serve.