If your refrigerator looks anything like mine, at any given moment there are no less than five tupperware containers full of leftovers staring back at me each time I open the doors. We do our best to eat what we have and not let food to waste, but it definitely gets boring to eat the same thing day in and day out, over and over again.
But leftovers can not only be made into delicious lunches, they can be transformed into entirely different meals! Here are ten ideas for taking last night’s dinner and turning it into tomorrow’s tasty lunch.
New Ways to Use Leftovers! 1 of 11
Look beyond the microwave and consider these fun and tasty ways to re-purpose last night's leftovers into today's delicious lunch!
Leftover Quinoa 2 of 11
In my house, I use a rice cooker to prep a lot of things like grains and beans for weeknight dinners. I typically cook a big batch so we have some for that night's dinner, but there is often a substantial portion leftover. I like to reheat these throughout the week for quick lunches and dinners, but after a few days I'm always wondering how to use up that last cup or two. These banana quinoa oatmeal muffins are a great way to use up leftover quinoa, and give a nice protein boost to a favorite baked good.
Recipe and photo source: Cooking With Michele
Leftover Cooked Rice 3 of 11
Since we're talking about leftover grains -- what do you do with all the rice leftover from stir-fry's, burrito night, or even Asian takeout? There is some talk that cooked brown rice (specifically) shouldn't be kept for longer than 24 hours in the fridge (due to bacterial concerns), so it's good to have a plan for how to use these leftovers up sooner than later. These Italian rice balls are a fun way to take rice in a different direction, and are something any kid would love to find in a lunchbox the next day!
Recipe and photo source: Foodista
Leftover Spaghetti 4 of 11
There are a lot of different ways to use up leftover spaghetti -- baked into casseroles, stirred into frittatas, or layered underneath a hearty chili. But I loved this creative twist on making a spaghetti bento box for an easy, portable lunch! You can get creative with different sauces and vegetables, and side items like fruit or crusty bread.
Recipe and photo source: Just Bento
Leftover Roasted Vegetables 5 of 11
One of my favorite quick and easy weeknight dinners involves roasting a huge sheet pan of different vegetables. Things like carrots, beets, potatoes, onions, and squash can really brighten up an otherwise predictable meal. But they are never quite as good reheated as they are straight out of the oven, so I'm also looking for creative ways to repurpose them. This roasted vegetable frittata looks totally delicious, and would make for a delicious packed lunch. Make it even better by topping with salsa or Greek yogurt - yum!
Recipe and photo source; Dietitians Association of Australia
Leftover Bean Chili 6 of 11
As soon as the fall hits, I kind of go nuts for chili. I make giant pots of it along side heaping pans of cornbread. We eat it for lunch and dinner, and more lunch and more dinner, over and over again. Eventually we tired of it and the large bowl of leftovers sits in the refrigerator staring at me begging to be put out of its misery. These vegan bean burgers are super creative and look absolutely delicious. Time to pull out my big soup pot!
Recipe and photo source: Glue and Glitter
Leftover Cooked Chicken 7 of 11
We are vegetarians in my house, but I grew up eating more than my share of weeknight chicken dinners. It seemed like there was always a bit of meat leftover that got thrown into a baggie and turned into a boring sandwich the next day. But there are so many creative and tasty ways to reuse something as versatile as chicken. Why not try these leftover chicken adobo tacos? You can pack all the fillings in one container, and do smaller tubs of things like salsa, sour cream, and shredded cheese. Wrap up some shells or tortillas on the side, and you have a delicious lunch you'll be thinking about all morning.
Recipe and photo source: Pepper
Leftover Hamburger Meat 8 of 11
Burger night has always been a staple in our house, and I try to make sure we have more than enough for whoever we're serving. This often leaves us with leftovers, and for some reason they are never quite as appealing the next day. I love this creative take on re-purposing hamburgers into a delicious new meal - leftover hamburger soup!
Recipe and photo source: Delia Creates
Leftover Mashed Potatoes 9 of 11
And speaking of soup, this potato cheddar soup made from leftover mashed potatoes looks like the perfect cozy bowl to curl up with on a rainy, winter night. Although truth be told, my house never seems to have an abundance of leftovers after mashed potato night...
Recipe and photo source: Food Wanderings in Asia
Leftover Meatloaf 10 of 11
When talking about cooking for families and dinnertime staples, is there anything more quintessentially cliche than meatloaf? This leftover meatloaf grilled cheese looks better than the original if I say so myself. And I'm a vegetarian, so that's a pretty big compliment!
Recipe and photo source: Mrs. Happy Homemaker
Leftover Steak 11 of 11
Leftover steak doesn't have to be boring and dry -- it can be transformed into something delicious to eat the next day, like this clever steak salad bento box! I love the idea of adding steak to a salad, especially when paired with healthy sides like an apple, cottage cheese, and sunflower seeds. Bento boxes can make for such fun lunches for kids, and this salad is a great way to fill yours up!
Recipe and photo source: What The Girls Are Having