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Play date lunch menu ideas?

It's my turn to host a play date for my 8yo daughter and her 2 friends, and their moms. We usually do it around lunch time, so I need to come up with a good lunch menu that I can prep and assemble the night before because I have an appointment just before the play date and won't have time to do much beforehand.

Previously, I've done make your own pizzas with Caesar salad, which the girls loved, as did the moms. The other moms have previously done tostadas, baked ziti with salad and rolls, and chicken fajitas with salad and Mexican rice.

I'm hoping to do something different this time, but I'm not sure what. We're all of indian background, so I'd prefer not to do indian food since we eat it often. It's supposed to be cold and raining, so something hearty would be good. The problem is that they both only eat chicken, so that limits me to either a chicken entree or a vegetarian entree. The kids are all good eaters, so they will all eat what we eat.

Any suggestions? TIA!!

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  1. Chicken satay on a stick, doesn't have to be eaten super hot so can be made ahead and have a peanut dipping sauce. Serve with rice and a marinated cucumber salad or other veg that the kids like.

    1. We made this soup from the cover of the current Food Network magazine. You could use ground chicken for the meatballs. Delicious and more like a main dish than a soup.


      1. What about a white chicken chili, along these lines? Serve with nachos and salad, maybe a fruit salad for a taste of summer.


        1. I like turkey chili (if they don’t do turkey maybe ground chicken). A butter nut squash chilli might also be nice. Serve with good bread.

          Mac and cheese, chicken skewers and a salad

          Grilled cheese (simple) and tomato soup

          Summer rolls (cut / prepare all the filling beforehand – tofu, cucumber, cilantro, red peppers, noodles) and have everyone prepare their own. Serve with miso, hot and sour or another Asian type soup.

          Chicken lettuce wraps

          1. Vegetarian lasagna, chicken enchiladas, or chicken pot pie...all perfect for a cold and rainy day. And, all the prep can be done in advance.

            3 Replies
            1. re: critter101

              Pot pie is a super idea. Although not homemade, the Costco one is HUGE and delicious! It also doesn't hurt it is a great price.

              1. re: pumpkinspice

                The Costco pie IS great, but it's not always available, IME.
                The turkey roller wraps, and the chicken salad, always are. It's really good chicken salad if you don't want to make your own. The wrap includes cranberry cream cheese and is pre-sliced into 10 pieces. You'd need 2 or 3 packs, I imagine.

                Personally, I'd make chicken-corn chowder and have crusty bread and good butter with it, plus carrot and celery sticks.

                1. re: greygarious

                  You can also make homemade bread and butter as a play group activity. In Girl Scouts we used to get to shape our own mini loaves and then shake up heavy cream on a baby food jar with marble as a churner before adding a pinch of salt.

            2. I agree with pumpkinspice: Mac and Cheese is the way to go. It's super warm and comforting.

              Maybe a chicken-version of shepherd's pie? It's hearty, has protein, has starch, and has veggies.

              1. Quesadillas with corn/black bean salad. You can pre-assemble the quesadillas and then grill them up during the play date. I like to include refried black beans along with the cheese and chicken. Corn and black bean salad with diced onion and sweet/hot cherry peppers benefits from being made in advance.

                Also along the same lines, you could do make your own burritos instead of quesadillas.

                I love the make your own summer rolls idea. could serve with a stir fry and rice, or an asian style chicken soup.

                veggie lasagna and garlic bread.

                1. Asian inspired lettuce wraps, with rice noodles, julianne carrots, cucumber, sliced avocado, cilantro and miso soup.

                  Or soba noodle (or udon) soup with add your own toppings: shredded carrots, chopped scallions, hard boiled egg, cilantro, bean sprouts, etc

                  1. Snobby Joes, aka sloppy Joes made with lentils instead of ground beef. Warm, savory yet a little messy to add to the kid fun but good. Add a salad if you want.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: autumm

                      Great idea; these can be done with ground chicken/turkey also. For a side, make some polenta fries with a dipping sauce.

                      Also, it's soup weather so a pot of chicken noodle or mini chicken meatballs with pasta soup might be welcoming and grilled cheese sandwiches.

                    2. I recommend Molly Stevens Polpette (meatballs), but I use ground turkey instead of veal. They are made using ricotta and braised in a light tomato sauce - tender and lovely. Easy to make ahead. If you like more spicy, it is easy to amp them up. I love spicy, but love these mild. (I do always add garlic - cannot help myself).
                      I found the recipe online
                      Remember, gently simmer (no boiling) to braise. I often cook one meatball first to make sure seasoning is right on.

                      1. I would make a savoury pie and a couple of salads.
                        Meat pie aka tourtière
                        Cheese pie
                        Butternut squash tarte
                        Chicken pot pie
                        bisteeya, an African chicken pie
                        If you are interested I could definitely give you some great recipes.
                        I made a pasta carbonara frittata last night and it was superb. It will go into my regular rotation. I just reheated it for lunch and it was almost as good.

                        1. So I ended up making bean and cheese enchiladas, mexican rice, and a salad with cucumbers, pineapple and jicama with Tajin and lime juice. i also made a spicy fresh salsa, which we had with tortillas chips and with lunch. Everyone took seconds, so I think it was a hit.

                          Thanks for the ideas everyone!