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When I think about having to make school lunches again, I want to hang my head and cry. Not only because it means summer is over, but mostly because making lunches sucks! And I know I’m not alone…. There are countless articles out there describing parents’ mutual hatred for lunch making; here’s one description. Of course, being North American, I don’t get the Marmite sandwich part of this article, but we can simply replace it with peanut butter and it’s the same thing.
So, to counter the back to school bummers, I am sharing some kid lunch ideas for school. This particular recipe is a simple minute rice cup recipe that’s easy, healthy, unique and freezes well. These Mediterranean Chicken and Wild Rice Cups can be popped into your kids’ lunch box (or your own), shaking things up a little and making your life, as a lunch maker, simpler. Let’s face it, eating a cold sandwich out of a bag everyday gets really boring. My mission is to make lunch easier and a just a bit more exciting!
Even if your kids are lucky enough to have a microwave that actually works at school, they have to stand in line to use it, seriously cutting into precious lunch break time. I remember this from my university days. It gets to the point where it’s not even worth it to bring food that requires heating. A thermos is handy but stewy/ soupy /casserole stuff just doesn’t cut it all the time.
So here is an alternative for you. This easy chicken recipe was the grand prize winner in the 2013 Wild Rice Council’s “Chicken and Wild Rice Recipe Competition”. It was a fun contest for me because I was only allowed to use 5 ingredients in addition to the set ingredients. My inspiration for the recipe was my love of Mediterranean flavors. But not to worry, it is also kid tested and approved! My kids love this recipe!
Make-ahead lunch food is a gift:
I love having frozen lunch foods I can heat and pop into a lunch bag! It’s like a little surprise gift I find in my freezer 🙂 This is an easy recipe with chicken and rice and you can make them ahead, freeze then heat these rice cups up in the morning and wrap them in aluminum foil, just before putting them in an insulated lunch bag. However, they still taste great lukewarm or even cold. Send a plastic spoon and some store-bought Tzatziki sauce (this makes it even yummier) in a Tupperware container and you have a tasty, interesting and healthy kids lunch or snack! I take these in my own lunch all the time. Not only are they great for lunch, these rice cups are excellent for potlucks, especially work potlucks!
I still fantasize about the day when I no longer have to worry about making my kids’ lunches. And although my kids are technically old enough to make their own lunches, it still requires my involvement on too many levels, including supervision, planning, shopping, cooking and hounding. So, until that lunch-making free day comes, I will continue on with my mission to make lunches better for kids, but most importantly, easier for their parents!
*You can make them vegetarian by replacing the chicken with tofu!
And if you’re looking for more lunch box ideas for kids at school, try my 5 Minute Turkey Club Ranch Wrap!
And if you love stuff made in muffin tins, try one of my most popular recipes – my Maple Sausage Brunch Bites!
Mediterranean Chicken and Wild Rice Cups Recipe
These easy Minute rice cups "Mediterranean Chicken and Wild Rice Cups" can be made in 30 minutes, freeze well and make an excellent lunch box meal, snack, appetizer or main dish. A great alternative to sandwiches!
- 1 cup wild rice
- 2 cups brown rice * I use minute rice
- 1 ½ cups shredded Chicken * about 2 small chicken breasts or use rotisserie chicken
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil drained finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic
- 3 large eggs slightly beaten
- 2/3 cup sliced black olives
- 1 cup Feta cheese I use light, crumbled
- 1 cup tzatziki sauce optional
Preheat oven to 400 F. Spray a muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray.
Cook brown rice and wild rice as per package directions (or use canned wild rice, which requires no cooking)
Cook chicken breast in olive oil on stove top over medium heat until no longer pink ** or use pre-cooked rotisserie chicken
Finely chop sun-dried tomatoes, garlic and chicken in the food processor. If you do not have a food processor, they can be finely chopped with a knife.
When rice is cooked, add eggs, chicken mixture, black olives, feta cheese and mix well.
Press mixture into muffin tins, and fill to about ¾ full. * Make sure you pack it in well with a spatula to ensure the rice cups stay intact!
Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes.
Remove from oven and cool in pan for 5 minutes. Use a knife to loosen edges.
Let cool another 5 minutes before removing.
Gently remove with narrow spatula.
Serve with tzatziki sauce, if desired. (This is really delicious!)
Note: Here are some time-cutting tips:
1) use the canned wild rice (no cooking required) as well as brown Minute Rice. If you can’t find canned wild rice, then use a fast cooking wild rice. Uncle Ben’s has a selection of wild/brown rice combos that cook quickly (10 minutes -that is very short for wild rice)!
2) Use minced or pureed garlic from a jar.
3) Take it a step further and use a grocery store rotisserie chicken.
This post is party of The Country Cook’s Weekend Potluck!