Lunch bowls with juicy chicken breasts on top of fluffy grains with creamy avo and charred sweet corn. The perfect, easy make-ahead lunch.
Lunch time. Oh, you difficult devil you. It is without-a-doubt the one meal where I fail pretty much 90% of the time. If I don’t plan ahead and either make sure the fridge is stocked with healthy, delicious food OR actually meal prep lunches fully, I land up eating slice after slice of buttered toast or something completely unhealthy like instant noodles. And listen, I LOVE buttered toast but there is definitely a much healthier and more delicious meal out there and all it requires is a little planning. Enter: Easy healthy Mexican chicken lunch bowls of your dreams.
These lunch bowls (or grain bowls) are honestly one of my favorite make ahead healthy meals. I love adding grains to my lunch and often use a mix of quinoa and bulgur wheat. The bulgur adds a nutty bite while the quinoa is packed full of fiber and protein.
How to make Mexican chicken lunch bowls
- Cook the quinoa and bulgur wheat together to save time and washing up. I cook the grains until the water has evaporated and leave it to steam with the lid on the pot for 30 minutes. This results in perfectly fluffy, al dente grains. To add even more flavor, cook with stock/broth of your choice. You can also add aromatics like lemon peel, garlic or bay leaves to the cooking water.
- The chicken can be marinated up to 24 hours. To ensure the chicken breasts stay tender and juicy, marinate the chicken for up to 30 minutes. Make a simple marinade with cumin, coriander, chipotle powder (a good substitute is smoked paprika and chilli powder), lime and olive oil. Marinate the chicken for at least 10 minutes but up to 24 hours in the fridge. Cook the chicken breasts in a hot pan until golden brown on both sides then add a splash of water to the pan and cover with a lid. Allow to cook for 5-7 more minutes then remove from the pan and set aside to rest for at least 5 minutes before slicing.
- You can serve these lunch bowls with any topping of your choice. Salsa, pico de gallo, guacamole, pickled jalapenos or roasted vegetables are all a good idea. I like using sweetcorn that I cook in the same pan as the chicken until golden brown.
- I always like to serve grain-based lunch bowls with lots of lemon or lime wedges but you could also make a simple dressing of olive oil, lemon, salt and pepper to serve drizzled over.
Can I make lunch bowls ahead?
These lunch bowls can be prepped up to 3 days in advance. Marinate or cook the chicken and keep in the fridge along with the cooked grains and corn. Just add halved cherry tomatoes and sliced avocado before serving with a generous squeeze of lemon juice and a pinch of salt and pepper.
Lunch bowl recipes
- Easy Greek chicken grain bowl
- Chicken quinoa salad with peas and feta
- Moroccan chicken couscous salad
- Soy honey noodle salad
Mexican chicken lunch bowls
- 4 chicken breasts
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 2-3 tbsp lime juice
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1-2 tsp chipotle powder
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
For the quinoa and bulgur wheat
- 3/4 cup bulgur wheat
- 3/4 cup quinoa
- 3 cups water/stock
- 1 tsp salt
For the lunch bowls
- 2 cups sweet corn
- 2 cups cherry tomatoes halves
- 1 avocado sliced
- lime wedges to serve
- salt and pepper to serve
- Combine all the marinade ingredients and mix well. Pour over chicken and allow to marinade for 30 minutes up to 24 hours.
- To cook the grains, combine the bulgur wheat and quinoa in a saucepan with the water and salt. Bring to a boil and lower the heat. Allow to simmer for 20 minutes or until the water has evaporated then cover with a lid and switch off the heat. Allow to steam for 30 minutes.
- Heat a non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat then cook the chicken until golden brown on both sides and cooked to your preference. Remove from the pan and allow to rest.
- Add the sweetcorn the pan the chicken was cooked in and allow to cook for 5 minutes.
- Slice and serve the chicken over the grains with the charred corn, sliced avocado and cherry tomatoes.