It can be easy to get stuck in the same old sandwiches sometimes when we think about lunch recipes. The below recipes are meant to inspire you to think about new combinations of whole grains, proteins, and vegetables to serve balanced meals to kids. See our blog posts about snacks and veggies for more ideas!


Please note: recipes, meals ideas, and other information found in the links is not guaranteed to meet the USDA Meal Patterns, which are a requirement of the Food Program. For more information, please see the Food Program page.

5-A-Day Bulgur Wheat Salad


  • 1 onion (medium, chopped)
  • 1 cup broccoli (chopped)
  • 1 cup carrot (shredded)
  • 1 green pepper (small, chopped, – may use red or yellow pepper)
  • 1/3 cup fresh parsley (chopped, or 2 Tablespoons dried)
  • 1 teaspoon canola oil
  • 1 and 1/2 cups bulgur (dry)
  • 2 cups chicken broth (low-sodium)
  • 8 ounces chickpeas or garbanzo beans (canned, drained)


Wash and chop fresh onion, broccoli, carrots, pepper and parsley (if using fresh parsley).

Heat canola oil in a large skillet.

Add onions and cook until soft.

Add bulgur and stir to coat.

Add 2 cups chicken broth to the skillet, bring to a boil.

Lower the heat, add remaining vegetables and chickpeas. Cook for 10 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed.

Add parsley and stir.

Serve warm or cold.

Note: Bulgur comes from wheat. It is actually the kernel of wheat, cracked for cooking. It has a nutty, chewy flavor that is sure to please and contains fiber.

Aztec Grain Salad


  • 1 and ½ cups quinoa, dry
  • 1 and ¾ cups fresh granny smith apples, peeled, cored, cubed 3/4″
  • 1 and ¾ cups fresh butternut squash, peeled, seeded, cubed 1/2″
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ cup frozen orange juice concentrate
  • 1 and ½ tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1/3 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 dash ground black pepper
  • 1 dash ground white pepper
  • ½ teaspoon fresh cilantro, chopped (Optional: use additional cilantro as a garnish)
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup golden raisins, seedless, finely chopped


Preheat oven to 400 °F.

Rinse quinoa in a fine mesh strainer until water runs clear, not cloudy.

Combine quinoa and 3 cups water in a medium pot. Cover and bring to a boil.

Turn heat down to low and simmer until water is completely absorbed, about 10-15 minutes.

When done, quinoa will be soft and a white ring will pop out of the kernel. The white ring will appear only when it is fully cooked.

Fluff with a fork. Cover and refrigerate. A rice cooker may be used with the same quantity of quinoa and water.

Combine apples and squash in a large mixing bowl.

Add canola oil, 1/8 tsp ginger, and 1/4 tsp cinnamon. Toss well to coat.

Pour apples/squash mixture onto a large baking sheet and place in oven at 400 °F.

Roast for 15 minutes or until squash is soft and slightly brown on the edges. Do not overcook.

Remove and set aside to cool.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine orange juice, olive oil, honey, Dijon mustard, red wine vinegar, salt, peppers, cilantro, and remaining ginger and cinnamon.

Whisk together to make dressing.

In a large mixing bowl, combine quinoa, apples/squash mix, cranberries, raisins, and dressing. Toss well to combine.

If desired, garnish with additional cilantro.

Cover and refrigerate for about 2 hours. Serve chilled.

Crunchy Chicken Tenders


  • 3/4 cup plain panko bread crumbs
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 2 tablespoons fat-free milk
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 pound skinless chicken, about 8 to 10 pieces
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan


Preheat the oven to 400°F. Spray a dark baking sheet with cooking spray.

In a small bowl, stir together the bread crumbs, 1 teaspoon basil, garlic powder, parsley, and Parmesan.

In a second small bowl, beat the egg whites, milk, and remaining ½ teaspoon basil.

Working with 1 piece at a time, dip the chicken tenders into the egg mixture, making sure to coat both sides. Dip one side of the chicken tender into the bread crumb mixture, then flip it over to coat the other side. Dip the chicken tender back in the egg mixture and then back in the bread crumb mixture so it has two coats of each.

Place the coated chicken tenders on the prepared baking sheet and repeat with the remaining chicken, egg mixture, and bread crumb mixture.

Drizzle olive oil over the chicken and bake for 10 minutes. Flip the chicken tenders over, drizzle with more olive oil, and bake until golden brown, about 10 minutes.

Makes 4 servings.

Mediterranean Tuna Salad in Pita Bread


  • 9 ounces tuna, chunk style, canned in water, drained
  • 3/4 cup carrots, fresh, peeled, shredded
  • 1/2 cup cucumber, fresh, unpeeled, 1/4″ diced
  • 2/3 cup peas, frozen
  • 1/3 cup Italian salad dressing
  • 3 Whole-wheat pita


Place drained tuna in a medium bowl. Break apart chunks of tuna, using a fork.

Add carrots, cucumbers, peas, and salad dressing. Mix well.

Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours, or until salad is chilled and peas are thawed.

Cut each pita in half to make a semicircle.

Place 1/2 cup of tuna salad into the pocket of each pita half.