Five Smart Dinner to Lunch Ideas using Leftovers


If you’re like a lot of people, bringing a home-cooked lunch to work or school every day is a great idea in theory, but quickly falls off the radar when the siren song of going out with coworkers becomes too hard to resist. Spicing up your lunch routine doesn’t have to mean spending all weekend in the kitchen cooking up special batches of food. here are three recipes that come with ideas for easy packed lunches made from their leftovers.

Crispy Roasted Garlic Chicken → Bitter Greens and Chicken Salad


Let’s start with a classic – if there’s any dinner main that’s begging to be remixed creatively, it is a whole roasted or rotisserie chicken. One of our favorite ways to spin these leftovers as the next day’s lunch is as a quick-to-assemble salad with just a few flavorful ingredients. To prep, start by shredding or slicing the cooled chicken into bite-sized pieces and tossing into a medium size bowl with your favorite greens. We love a mix of peppery and bitter greens like arugula and radicchio, which have the added bonus of being sturdier than your typical spring mix. Next, whisk together a simple vinaigrette of one part balsamic vinegar (or sherry, apple cider, lemon, etc.) with 2-3 parts olive oil, a drizzle of honey and a pinch of salt and pepper. A few juicy cherry tomato halves and thick shavings of Parmesan cheese are all it takes to round out the flavors and make a salad that rivals the $15 one your coworkers are picking up! Just remember to pack your dressing separate from the salad and tossing it in right before eating to keep things fresh.


One-Pan Honey Lemon Chicken → Chicken and Avocado Tartines


Another great way to quickly turn a chicken dinner into lunch the next day is with these chicken and avocado tartines. You can turn leftover roasted chicken into a deluxe avocado toast lunch by slicing up your chicken and any leftover veggies into bite-sized pieces and storing them in an airtight container. Scoop an avocado into another small container and mash it up with a fork. Add salt and pepper to taste, along with any fresh herbs you might have on hand for extra flavor. A squeeze of lemon or lime juice to the mix will keep the avocado from browning before you get a chance to dig in the next day. This is another meal that benefits from assembling at lunchtime, and if your office or school has a toaster, add some crunch to your sourdough before building your tartine feast!


One-Skillet Steak and Tomatoes → Steak and Veggie Pitas 


If you’re looking for more of a handheld sandwich option for to give new life to your dinner leftovers, these easy steak and veggie pitas are *it*. Think of them like a sophisticated version of those pizza lunchables: they work with any protein, but feel especially luxe with steak.

To prep these steak pitas, slice up any leftover steak and store in an airtight container with roasted veggies (tomatoes, peppers, squash and onions all work great). In another container, stir together greek yogurt, a drizzle of olive oil, the juice of half a lemon, and plenty of salt and black pepper. When you’re ready to assemble them, toast the pitas, then slather on the yogurt sauce, followed by warm or room temperature steak and veggies. Garnish with greens of your choice for some extra freshness, and get ready for your desk mates to ask where you got such an awesome lunch.


Sheet Pan Roasted Vegetables and Chickpeas → Hummus Buddha Bowls

Last but not least we’ve got this super easy Mediterranean-inspired Buddha Bowl, perfect for days you’re trying to get an extra dose of greens in. Double the recipe for this simple one-pan side dish and add a block of cubed firm tofu before roasting. To prep this easy veggie option for lunch the next day, cut the cooled roasted veggies into bite sized pieces and arrange in a microwave safe container. In a separate smaller container, you can add easy additions like thinly sliced radish and chopped herbs, along with a dollop of your favorite hummus. When you’re ready to eat, microwave the roasted vegetables until warm, and then garnish with your cold toppings. An optional sprinkle of smoked paprika adds an extra dimension of flavor, but either way, this bowl will make you wonder what you ever saw in that overpriced lunch chain down the street from your office.