Okay, so I’m sure the title of this probably made you laugh. I mean, it’s not often you think “healthy lunch” and “chicken nuggets” in the same sentence – but let’s be real. When you have kids around, especially toddlers, there’s a good chance you’ll indulge in chicken nuggets at least once a week (or is that just me?)
I get it! They’re super easy, they’re fast, and they’re pretty tasty.
The downside is, they feel a little… unfulfilling. I don’t know, when I eat just straight chicken nuggets, I feel kind of lame. Like I didn’t “try hard” enough (side order of mom guilt, anyone?)
If I make them into a meal, on the other hand, I feel like I’m totally winning at the whole mom thing… Which balances out how I felt when my son saw a Wendy’s and yelled “nugget place!”
I’m not saying these recipes are the end-all, be-all of healthy eating – but I am saying they’re a little more realistic in the middle of the day than making a completely separate meal for yourself if you’re making nuggets anyway.
For what it’s worth, I buy the nuggets made from 100% chicken over the ones that are cheaper but more questionable. If I’m going to eat processed food, it’s worth it to me to try to at least limit the number of unnecessary ingredients.
5 Healthy Lunches You Can Make With Chicken Nuggets
Pair them with a fruit and a veggie.
This is kind of a “duh”, but I don’t think about it as often as I should. I often see chicken nuggets as a meal in and of themselves (unless they’re from Wendy’s, then they need to have fries 🙈). But when you pair them with both a fruit and a veggie, it’s a nice combination of nutrients that makes you feel full and energized.
Typically, I cut up strawberries and/or a kiwi and some carrots (because I like my nuggets with a little ranch, so sue me :))
Cut them up and use them in a salad.
Last summer, this was my absolute favorite lunch. I’d get lettuce from our garden, wash it (then wash it again twice more, because I was terrified I’d find a caterpillar hiding in it), then make a salad with chicken nuggets and whatever toppings I had on hand.
My favorite combination was poppy seed dressing, a few raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries, and about 1/4 cup of granola for a little crunch. I liked the texture of the salad with the crunch of the nuggets, and I want to say the whole salad was about 400ish calories? Perfect for after gardening or going for a long walk. But you can always use fewer chicken nuggets/less salad dressing if you want to lower the calorie count a bit.
Use them in a wrap.
You know those wraps they have at fast food restaurants with chicken, some kind of sauce, and a bunch of veggies inside? Chicken nuggets are a great way to re-make them at home (and even maybe make them a smidge healthier :))
When I make these, I cut up the nuggets, put them in a tortilla (typically whole wheat, unless we’re out), then add a bunch of lettuce and whatever other ingredients I have on hand (especially tomatoes and mushrooms – yum!) Sometimes I add ranch (about a tablespoon), but it just depends. Same with cheese – sometimes I’m in the mood to add cheese, and sometimes I’m not.
Make mini chicken sandwiches.
You know those cute little dinner rolls you can get from the bakery section at the store? Snag a bag (preferably whole wheat ones), cook up some nuggets, and use them as “patties”. Top with lettuce and tomato, and lunch is served.
And hey, your kids might even eat this variation because what isn’t more fun in miniature form?
Chicken nuggets and waffles.
Okay, sure, I said this would be healthy ideas, but I’m counting this as comfort food for rough days when you just want to feel like mom of the year (but don’t have the time!)
When it comes time to have lunch (or dinner, if your husband is on board – and if he’s anything like mine, he totally will be), cook up some chicken nuggets and frozen waffles, top it all with delicious maple syrup, and enjoy.
(Because balance = everything ;))
Admit it: How often does your family eat chicken nuggets?
No judgment here. 🙂