What’s for Lunch?

What’s for Lunch?

Chicken Fajita Salad

“I eat the same thing for lunch every day”

Does this sound like you? Do you make a sandwich every day? Do you “meal prep” a giant mix of chicken and rice and then subject yourself to eating that same dish Monday through Friday?

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Well if you are that person, then take heart! There is a better option.   When I started my current job about a year ago I was dazzled by the many options for lunches out.  My previous job had been in a very rural county where I was also the health inspector.  Limit food establishments compounded by an unwanted familiarity with those establishment’s kitchens, left me without many eating out options.  But the new job was smack dab in the center of a small city and food options were overwhelming. Food truck nachos one day, brick oven pizzas the next, and endless sugary coffee drinks.

Endless that is until my wallet was depleted and my waistline slightly expanded. Then in an attempt to be healthier my husband and I completed the Whole30 challenge, and while that experience in itself could be a whole post on its own, it really changed the way I approached making recipes for us.  A main tenant of the Whole30 is to look at food for what it truly is meant to be: a source of fuel to nourish our bodies, not just something to taste good and fill us up. So I was back to the drawing board for healthy, packable lunches that weren’t, well, boring.

Baked chicken breasts

Some skin-on bone-in breasts I baked in the oven in preparation for making lunches.

I have found that a great place to start when looking for a satisfying lunch is a versatile protein like chicken.  Chicken is affordable, can be purchased in large or small quantities, and is soooo easy to prepare.  When I’m trying to meal prep lunches for the week I typically start by either baking or poaching chicken breasts.  In case you missed it, I covered how to do either of these methods in last week’s post for making white chicken chili.

For this week’s post, I want to give you an option for using that precooked chicken, specifically: chicken fajita salad.   In my house, we love Mexican/Tex Mex food.  We could probably rotate between tacos, burritos, and fajitas for every meal of the week if we wanted.  These lunch salads are my way of getting our tex/mex fix while also indulging in food that is clean, protein-packed, and most importantly, yummy!

Here’s your shopping list for this lunch:

  • 2 bell peppers, (whatever colors you’d like, but I prefer red or yellow)
  • a large pack of chicken breast (generally between 3-4 breasts in the package. Don’t be afraid to buy the breast that still has skin on and bone-in.  These are great for baking, the skin packs in moisture, and is easy to remove once the breasts have been fully cooked. Plus skin-on chicken breasts is generally cheaper than the skinless, boneless variety. )
  • a small onions
  • cilantro
  • salsa
  • fresh spinach
  • minced garlic
  • orange juice
  • lime juice
  • shredded cheddar or pepper jack cheese (for topping)
  • any of the following spices if you do not have them already: cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, sea salt, pepper, onion powder.

Side note here: the addition of greek yogurt and cheese wouldn’t make these Whole30 approved, if you are going for that option, simply omit the cheese garnish from the fajita salad and use homemade mayo instead of greek yogurt for the fiesta salad. 

raw chicken breasts

Chicken breasts ready to go in the oven.

To save time with meal prep, I remove the chicken from its packaging, sprinkle with salt and pepper and throw the breasts in the oven to bake while I prepare the vegetables. I typically start with the peppers and onions, because this mix for the fajitas will need to bake for 10-15 minutes.  If you don’t want to bake the veggie mix you can always saute them on the stovetop with a little olive oil.

prepped pepper and onion mixture

Instead of store-bought orange juice (which I didn’t have on hand), I squeezed a clementine over the pepper and onion mixture.

The truth is meal prepping is great, but there’s no one right way to do it.  So if you only have time to bake the chicken and cut up the veggies, praise the Lord for the fridge, and stash it all away until you have some more time.

Both of these salads store beautifully in the fridge.  Once done I portion them out into individual containers; I can get multiple lunches from each, and alternate between the two so I’m not eating the same thing every day.

Here is the recipe, leave me a comment and let me know what you think!

Chicken Fajita Salad

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 3 lunches

Ingredients

  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 yellow bell pepper
  • 1 small onion
  • 2 cloves garlic or 1 tsp store bought minced garlic
  • 2 Tbs orange juice
  • 2 cups cooked shredded chicken
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup fresh spinach
  • 3/4 tsp chili powder
  • 3/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Thinly slice the bell peppers and onion, then place on a greased baking sheet. 


  2. Drizzle 1 tbsp of olive oil and 2 tbsp orange juice over the pepper and onions.  Sprinkle with minced garlic cloves, 1/2 tsp of chili powder, 1/2 tsp cumin, a dash of sea salt and pepper. Toss to evenly coat. 

  3. Place baking sheet in oven preheated to 375 degrees for 15 minutes. 


  4. While the vegetables bake, drizzle 1 tbsp olive oil over shredded chicken. Add 1/4 tsp chili powder, 1/4 tsp garlic powder, 1/4 onion powder, and 1/4 cumin. Mix well. 

  5. To build salad make a bed of fresh spinach, top with pepper and onion mixture, and shredded chicken. Garnish with shredded cheese and salsa. 

Until we cook again!

~ Chloe M.



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