I always have the best of intentions when it comes to meal planning. It rarely actually works out for me, but still I try. Recently, my husband I got some of those bento-style boxes to make up some healthy lunches to take with us in the morning. The idea would be that we already have a healthy lunch ready to go, so it saves time in the morning and we would be less likely to go out somewhere.
The best laid plans, amiright?
It didn’t really work. I think the problem is we made too many meals ahead of time, so by the time we got about half way through, the lunches we made weren’t very good anymore, we were bored with the same thing every day, and the main portion of the lunch was a chicken breast which always ended up really dried out after reheating. I had to go back to the drawing board. I think I successfully came up with some other options besides just plain ol’ chicken and rice, and I also think that making them in smaller batches is going to be the key to less food waste and fatigue.
My first idea was this chicken salad. You don’t have to reheat it, so that solves the dried meat problem. I also only made a few days’ worth, so we shouldn’t get too sick of it and we won’t have to throw any of it away. Served with some whole grain crackers and a lite Baby Bell cheese circle and I think I’ve got a solid lunch option on my hands.
I suggest making this at least a couple hours before you plan on eating it so the flavors have a chance to really come together.
Greek Yogurt Chicken Salad
4 cups cooked chicken (you can use whatever cooked chicken you want. I put 3 chicken breasts in my Instant Pot with some chicken broth, salt, dried thyme, and Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute and they were ready to go in no time.)
1 cup finely chopped carrots
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
1 cup quartered grapes, red or green your preference
1 cup chopped apple, whatever kind you want
Handful of slivered almonds
1-1/2 cups plain non-fat Greek yogurt
Juice from half a lemon
Salt and pepper to taste
Keep in mind that none of these ingredients are set in stone. This is just how I make a basic chicken salad. If you don’t like carrots? Don’t add them. Think carrots are the greatest thing in world? Add more! You can put any seasoning you want. You can swap out the almonds for something else. Or remove them altogether. This would also be really good with dried cranberries (not to mention how pretty it would look with that pop of red color!). If you think Greek yogurt is a bit too tangy, you can take some of it out and substitute nonfat mayo or sour cream. If I had some green onions, I would add those too.
Speaking of Greek yogurt, I would start on the lesser end and stir it in in small amounts until it reaches the level of creaminess you like.
This recipe makes A LOT of chicken salad, so it would be good for a party or picnic. The Super Bowl is coming up; you could serve this along with some whole grain crackers as a healthy alternative to the rest of the stuff on the food table.