Four Back-to-School Lunch Ideas for Kids

| Farmer Focus

Let’s talk about easy lunches for kids. Chicken may not be your first thought when you think of kid lunches, but what about breaded chicken nuggets and chicken tender wraps? We kid-tested these lunches and immediately got all the “mmmmm”s and “I want more” after the first couple of bites. Spoiler alert: it’s all HEALTHY, and the adults loved it too.
So here are four recipes that will bring you lunchbox success! We even dropped some recommendations at the end for different lunch sides.

1. HEALTHY CHICKEN NUGGETS

What about a chicken nugget is healthy? Well, we withheld salty breading and oil for deep-frying. We lightly tossed our cut-up pieces of organic chicken breast in a breadcrumb mix we made ourselves for peak crispiness. When we tested this, these kiddos didn’t even use dipping sauce because they were so excited to eat them!

Ingredients:

  • Two Farmer Focus boneless skinless organic chicken breast
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 6 tbsp whole wheat Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
  • 2 tbsp panko
  • 2 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
  • olive oil spray for the baking pan.

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F and prep an oven-safe pan by spraying it with olive oil.
  2. Cut chicken breast into one-inch pieces. We want these to be bite-sized.
  3. In a medium-sized bowl, combine olive oil, panko, Italian seasoned breadcrumbs, and parmesan cheese.
  4. Using tongs, place chicken pieces in the breaded mixture. Toss the chicken in the bowl to coat in the mix. Make sure not to overcrowd the bowl so that the pieces can be evenly coated. Repeat until all chicken is coated.
  5. Place your breaded chicken pieces on an oven-safe pan and bake for 8-10 minutes. After that, turn them over on the pan and bake them for another 5 minutes. *use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature. The internal temperature should be at least 165°F.

Notes: This recipe was inspired by skinnytaste’s Healthy Baked Chicken Nuggets. 

2. CHICKEN HASH BROWNS WITH BASIL

Lulu picked her favorite ingredients for us (especially the basil), and her dad knew hash browns would be a perfect way to use breakfast leftovers and make a lunch to look forward to.

Ingredients:

  • One pack of Farmer Focus Organic Chicken Tenders (approximately 1lb)
  • Bacon crumbles/bits. We recommend getting real bacon bits or even cooking some on your own to crumble.
  • Your favorite shredded cheese.
  • One to two potatoes
  • Salt & pepper to season the chicken.
  • Three basil leaves (or more if you love it like Lulu)
  • Olive oil *feel free to substitute with an oil/ghee of your choice.

Instructions: 

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F
  2. Place your chicken on an oven-safe dish/pan.
  3. Season both sides of your chicken tenders with salt and pepper. *no salt diet, no problem. Just skip the salt here.
  4. Once the oven is preheated, bake your chicken for 15 minutes, flipping halfway through or until the internal temperature reaches a minimum of 165°F.
  5. Add one tablespoon of olive oil to a medium frying pan as the chicken is baking.
  6. Dice the potatoes, then add them to the frying pan. Cook them until they are browned, stirring them occasionally, then set to the side. *We used leftover hash browns from breakfast.
  7. Once the chicken is baked to an internal temperature of at least 165°F and has cooled, cut the tenders into smaller pieces (about 2-inch pieces).
  8. In your container for lunch, place the ingredients in this order: hash browns (potatoes), chicken, cheese, and basil.

Notes:

*feel free to substitute with an oil/ghee of your choice.

*We use leftover hash browns from breakfast for our crispy potatoes, but you can use them from scratch or substitute for cauliflower hash

3. CHICKEN TENDER WRAPS

You cannot go wrong here if you are in a pinch for time. Grab your favorite veggies to stuff in these wraps. It is hard for picky eaters to notice veggies when the chicken has so much flavor!

Ingredients:

  • One pack of Farmer Focus Organic Chicken Tenders (approximately 1lb)
  • Veggies that are good for stuffing wraps. We grabbed a spring lettuce mix from our local food co-op.
  • Your favorite shredded cheese. We used shredded cheddar cheese.
  • Salt & pepper to season the chicken.
  • Tortilla wrap of choice. We used flour tortillas, but there are gluten-free options if interested.
  • Optional: sauce to add to your wrap.

Instructions: 

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F
  2. Place your chicken on an oven-safe dish/pan.
  3. Season both sides of your chicken tenders with salt and pepper. *no salt diet, no problem. Just skip the salt here.
  4. Once the oven is preheated, bake your chicken for 15 minutes, flipping halfway through or until the internal temperature reaches a minimum of 165°F.
  5. Assemble! Grab a tortilla and stuff your wrap with all other ingredients (veggies, cheese, sauce, etc.). We were able to fit one to two chicken tenders per wrap.
  6. Cut wraps in half for a better fit in a lunch box and little hands.

Notes:

*low-sodium diet? We use small amounts here to season our chicken, but you can skip this and choose seasonings of your choice!

4. TOASTED C.L.T. (CHICKEN LETTUCE TOMATO) SANDWICH

This sandwich may sound like a big-kid/adult lunch, and it is, BUT the kids will absolutely love it all, from the toasty bread to the juicy tomato and chicken.

Ingredients:

  • One pack of Farmer Focus Organic Chicken Thighs (approximately 1lb) *One chicken thigh per sandwich
  • Lettuce
  • Tomato
  • Mayo, or a substitute like plain greek yogurt
  • Two slices of bread to toast
  • Salt & pepper to season the chicken.

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F
  2. Place your chicken on an oven-safe dish/pan.
  3. Season both sides of your chicken tenders with salt and pepper. *no salt diet, no problem. Just skip the salt here.
  4. Once the oven is preheated, bake your chicken for 17 minutes, flipping halfway through or until the internal temperature reaches a minimum of 165°F.
  5. While the chicken bakes, wash all vegetables and toast two slices of bread of your choice.
  6. Spread mayo onto one slice of the bread. *Want to skip the mayo? Go ahead or consider one of these options instead: plain greek yogurt or mustard
  7. Build your sandwich in this order: toast slice with mayo, one Farmer Focus chicken thigh, lettuce leaf, one to two tomato slices, and a slice of toast.
  8. Cut this sandwich in half for a better fit in a lunch box and little hands.

Notes: 

*Want to skip the mayo? Go ahead or consider one of these options instead: plain greek yogurt or mustard.

*Want more flavor? Add bacon crumbles to your Farmer Focus C.L.T.

*low-sodium diet? We use small amounts here to season our chicken, but you can skip this and choose seasonings of your choice!

DON’T KNOW WHAT TO PACK AS A SIDE IN THESE LUNCHES? HERE ARE SOME IDEAS!

Fruit:

  • Apple slices
  • Pineapple chunks
  • Blueberries
  • Grapes
  • Apple sauce
  • Once-Upon-A-Farm Fruit Smoothies

Vegetables:

  • Carrot sticks
  • Celery
  • Olives

Grain:

  • Pretzels
  • Whole grain crackers
  • Popcorn

Dairy: 

  • yogurt
  • cheese stick
Chicken Hash Browns lunch with pineapple and olives.

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