Packing lunches for ourselves or our kids can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be! This make-ahead Poached Coconut Chicken Salad is a yummy lunch for an adult or a child, and it can be customized to suit the preferences of almost any appetite.
This lunch is what I like to think of as a “grain bowl” lunch. It’s one of the strategies that I teach in my new Yummy Toddler Lunches ebook, which is filled with ideas to take the stress out of packing lunches. The idea is to start with a whole grain, add some produce, a protein, and an optional sauce to assemble a wholesome and happy lunch for a little one. You can arrange the ingredients however you like — or however your kiddo will like — for a customized meal that will please everyone. It’s a win, win!
You can make the chicken on the weekend when you have more time and keep it in an airtight container in the fridge until it’s time to pack lunches. For adults, simply layer the chicken over a shredded leafy green like kale and top with other assorted veggies, and a drizzle of Lime Dressing. Serve with rice and some fresh blueberries. For the school lunch version, I like to place the ingredients onto lollipop sticks, which looks really cute and has the added benefit of being really fun for the kids to eat! (I am always skeptical of this, but anytime I put food onto a stick, my daughter loves it!) Add some rice, fresh sweet corn, berries, and a few whole grain cookies to the mix, and you have a lunch that is perfect fuel for an active kid.
We love to use our Easy Lunchboxes, which conveniently fit into the Honest Insulated Lunch Box, since they are easy to pack and keep the food fresh until lunchtime. Try this lunch for a busy workday or enjoy it at home, and remember to vary the produce options to suit your family’s preferences, allergies, and the season.
Make-Ahead Coconut Poached Chicken Salad
1 pound skinless chicken thighs
3/4 cup light coconut milk
1 tablespoon grated ginger
1 garlic clove, grated
1 cup short grain brown rice, cooked according to package directions
Shredded kale, sliced tomatoes, sliced cucumbers, and/or sweet corn
- Place the coconut milk, ginger and garlic into a wide, shallow pan over medium heat. Stir and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low, and add the chicken. Cover and simmer for 10-12 minutes, turning chicken halfway through, or until cooked through. (If the liquid is boiling when you flip the chicken over, reduce the heat to low before putting the lid back on.) Remove from heat and let cool. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days until ready to use.
- Assemble lunches with an assortment of leafy greens, rice, some chicken, and veggies for adults, or thread veggies and chicken onto lollipop sticks for little ones. Top, if desired, with Lime Dressing.
Whisk together 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, 1 teaspoon fresh lime zest, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 small garlic clove, grated, 1 tablespoon honey, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
*Honest Tip: You can make the rice ahead of time and store it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days, or place cooled grains into a zip top freezer bag with as much air removed as possible and freeze for up to 3 months.
~Amy, Yummy Toddler Food
Amy Palanjian is a writer, editor, recipe developer, and crafter for magazines, books, and websites. She’s also mama to a very energetic toddler who inspires her to share wholesome, yet realistic recipes and feeding tips with other parents of little ones at her site Yummy Toddler Food. For more inspiration, check out her website and Instagram.