5 Easy Make-Ahead Lunches to Give You a Weight Loss Boost This Week


These delicious lunch box ideas for adults to take for work at wonderful for diets and weight loss! Lunches are often forgotten in weekly meal prep and planning, but no more! A healthy and easy way to get ahead for the week. Check out 5 Make Ahead Lunch Recipes and Ideas for the week ahead.

EVERYTHING BAGEL CHICKEN TENDERS

Everything Bagel Chicken Tenders are perfect for a quick and easy weeknight dinner! Serve these crispy baked chicken tenders with sweet and tangy maple mustard dipping sauce for a meal that will be a hit with the whole family!

Everything Bagel Chicken Tenders on parchment lined sheet pan with a small bowl of maple mustard dipping sauce.Let’s get this week started with an easy dinner recipe reminiscent of something we probably all grew up eating. Crispy, crunchy, chicken tenders. Instead of making traditional I decided to upgrade mine and add everything bagel seasoning to them. These Everything Bagel Chicken Tenders will satisfy both the kid and adult in you!

There’s many ways to make chicken tenders or chicken nuggets. You can fry them, although I prefer not to go this route. You can still get crispy chicken tenders through baking and you don’t have to mess with frying or the extra calories. Then of course there’s my least favorite method, opening a box of them from the freezer section at the grocery store.

I get that sometimes the box of frozen chicken tenders is convenient and easy, but the flavor, texture and nutrition is nothing compared to when you make your own.

Everything Bagel Chicken Tenders on a sheet pan drizzled with maple mustard dipping sauce.

BENEFITS OF MAKING HOMEMADE CHICKEN TENDERS

  1. You control the type of chicken being used. It’s hard to say what quality of meat is being used in the boxed ones. If you want to use organic, free range, breast meat, dark meat, you have control over it.
  2. The breaded exterior of homemade chicken tenders is generally only a few ingredients. The boxed version can be a paragraph long list of ingredients.
  3. Frozen chicken tenders fall into the category of processed foods, perhaps not as processed as some, but why put random ingredients in your body that don’t need to be there?

Have I sold you yet on making your own baked chicken tenders? Still need convincing? Let’s talk about how easy they are to make.

Overhead photo of Everything Bagel Chicken Tenders on sheet pan with a bowl of maple mustard dipping sauce.

HOW TO MAKE BAKED EVERYTHING BAGEL CHICKEN TENDERS

  1. You’ll need two pie plates or shallow bowls. Crack an egg in one dish and add a splash of water. Whisk it. Add panko and to the other, stirring them to combine.
  2. Line a baking sheet with foil sprayed with cooking spray or parchment paper and place the prepared chicken tenders on them in a single layer.
  3. Take a few of the chicken tenders (or chicken breasts cut into tenders like I did) and coat them in the egg wash. Use a fork to move them into the panko mixture and toss them around until coated. Place them on the prepared baking sheet in a single layer. Repeat the process until all the chicken is coated.
  4. Bake the chicken tenders at 400° F. for 12-15 minutes depending on their size. Chicken is cooked through when the internal temperature is 165° F.

That’s all there is to it! Dinner can literally be on the table in less than 30 minutes and it will taste so much better than what you get in the box from the freezer section.

Everything Bagel Chicken Tenders with maple mustard dipping sauce in a wooden bowl with a spoon.If you’re like me then you’ll need a dipping sauce for your Everything Bagel Chicken Tenders. Ketchup is great, but we can do better than that. Maple mustard dipping sauce is where it’s at friends! It’s sweet, it’s tangy and even a little spicy if you want. Dijon mustard, maple syrup and sriracha are all you need for the sauce. Not into spice? Skip the sriracha.

 

Everything Bagel Chicken Tenders with Maple Mustard Dipping Sauce Pinterest collage.

MORE BAKED CHICKEN TENDERS

Sheet Pan Parmesan Crusted Chicken and Broccoli. One of the chicken tenders being lifted up with a black serving spoon.

Everything Bagel Chicken Tenders

EVERYTHING BAGEL CHICKEN TENDERS

yield: 4 SERVINGS
prep time: 15 MINUTES
cook time: 15 MINUTES
total time: 30 MINUTES

INGREDIENTS

CHICKEN TENDERS

  • 1 1/4 pounds chicken tenders
  • 1/2 cup panko or gluten-free panko
  • 2 tablespoons everything bagel seasoning
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 egg

MAPLE MUSTARD DIPPING SAUCE

  • 1/4 cup dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon sriracha
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 400° F. and line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper. If using foil spray it with cooking spray.
  2. Take two pie plates or shallow bowls. Crack an egg in one, add a splash of water and whisk together. Add the panko and everything bagel seasoning to the other and combine.
  3. Take several chicken tenders and coat them in the egg wash. Use a fork to move them into the panko mixture and toss them around until coated. Place them on the prepared baking sheet in a single layer. Repeat the process until all the chicken is coated.
  4. Bake for 12-15 minutes depending on their size. The chicken is cooked through when the internal temperature is 165° F.
  5. While the chicken bakes whisk together the ingredients for the dipping sauce. Serve with the finished chicken tenders.

SOUTHWEST LENTIL AND BROWN RICE CASSEROLE

This Southwest Lentil and Brown Rice Casserole is a cozy, hearty, vegetarian dinner that’s perfect for a cold night! Easy to make and great for meal prep.

Southwest Lentil and Brown Rice Casserole in white dish topped with tomatoes and avocado.Thanks to my friends at for sponsoring this post. As always all opinions are my own.

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving! I can’t believe it’s December, I know it’s going to fly by. Before everything gets too crazy with recipes for Christmas cookies, brunch casseroles and more ham recipes than you’ll ever need, I wanted to share the recipe for this Southwest Lentil and Brown Rice Casserole.

After all the rich Thanksgiving food and leftovers we had over the last few days, I thought this vegetarian protein and fiber filled dinner would do us all some good. Time to get the body back in check before we eat no less than 100 Christmas cookies.

Aside from how delicious this casserole tastes, the next best thing is how easy it is to make. Except for sautéing onions and garlic, everything else goes into the casserole dish uncooked. Minimal effort on your end with maximum flavor results.

Black spoon scooping out Southwest Lentil and Brown Rice Casserole.

WHAT DO I NEED TO MAKE THE CASSEROLE?

  • Yellow onion
  • Garlic
  • Green chiles or poblano peppers
  • Brown or green lentils
  • Brown rice (long grain or basmati)
  • Fire roasted tomatoes
  • Chili powder, cumin, oregano, smoked paprika
  • Red enchilada sauce
  • Colby Jack, Monterey Jack or cheddar cheese
  • Avocado, tomatoes and cilantro for toppings (optional)

You probably noticed there’s no meat in this casserole and honestly, I need a little break from it after all the turkey. Even without the meat there’s still plenty of protein. A half cup of cooked lentils has 12 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber. Combine that with a little more protein and fiber from the brown rice and you have yourself a hearty meatless meal.

Two bowls of Southwest Lentil and Brown Rice Casserole. Casserole dish and a box of Pacific Foods vegetable broth next to them.

For this recipe I used . I love Pacific’s broths because they actually have flavor unlike other brands and I appreciate the simple, real, organic ingredients that are used to make them. No fillers, gums, yeasts, GMOs or MSG. It’s basically what you would use if you were making your own homemade broth.

I used it in this  that I made last month and it was delicious. If you aren’t tired of pumpkin, I highly recommend adding it as a side dish to your Christmas dinner menu.

Closeup photo of Southwest Lentil and Brown Rice Casserole topped with cheese, tomatoes and avocado.

CAN I MAKE THE CASSEROLE VEGAN?

Absolutely! The only change you will make to the recipe will be to omit the cheese on top. If you’d like feel free to add your favorite shredded vegan cheese instead.

IS THIS CASSEROLE SPICY?

I often get questions about how spicy my Southwest and Mexican recipes are. It can be a difficult question to answer because the amount of spice we can tolerate is different for everybody. Personally I like my food on the spicy, but not so spicy that I can’t taste any of the other ingredients or flavors.

If you like spicy I recommend using a medium heat red enchilada sauce and mild or hot green chiles. You can also add spice or remove spice by using a hot or mild chili powder. If you want the casserole to have mild heat, use mild enchilada sauce and either mild green chiles or a bell pepper.

Southwest Lentil and Brown Rice Casserole in a bowl topped with melted cheese, tomatoes, avocado and lime wedges.If you do meal prepping for the week this casserole will easily make enough to last you the entire week, or you can freeze it for a later date. Before serving, top the Lentil and Brown Rice Casserole with diced tomatoes, avocado and cilantro. A squeeze of fresh lime juice is also a nice finishing touch.

Southwest Lentil and Brown Rice Casserole Pinterest Collage.

Southwest Lentil and Brown Rice Casserole

SOUTHWEST LENTIL AND BROWN RICE CASSEROLE

yield: 6 SERVINGS
prep time: 10 MINUTES
cook time: 2 HOURS
total time: 2 HOURS 10 MINUTES

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 3/4 cup diced onion
  • 3 cloves of garlic, grated or minced
  • 4 ounces canned diced green chiles or 3 roasted and diced poblano peppers
  • 3/4 cup dry brown or green lentils
  • 3/4 cup uncooked long grain brown rice
  • 1 1/2 cups red enchilada sauce
  • 14.5 ounce can fire roasted tomatoes, undrained
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste (I used approximately 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt)
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar or Colby Jack cheese

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and spray the bottom of a 9×13 ceramic or glass baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. Sauté the onion and poblanos (if not using poblanos just the onion) in the olive oil for 2-3 minutes in a medium sized skillet. When the onions are soft stir in the garlic and sauté another 30 seconds. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish.
  3. Add in the remaining ingredients, except the cheese, and stir together until well combined. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 100-110 minutes, stirring everything once during the baking time.
  4. Remove the foil and sprinkle on the cheese. Bake another 15 minutes or until the cheese is melted. Remove the casserole from the oven and let it rest for 10 minutes before serving.
  5. Garnish with chopped tomatoes, avocado and cilantro.