Dinner Leftovers That Make Awesome Lunches for Kids and Adults
I have four small kids, which means I have four lunches to get out the door. Every day. Actually, it's five lunches, if you count mine. That’s why one of my favorite dinners is the kind that turns into lunch the next day. Here are some of the best, which I've grouped into two categories: things that can be eaten the next day as-is, or leftovers that you can turn into all-new bites. Read on below for the details.
Better the Next Day: Some dinners just beg to be served at room temperature the next day, when the flavors only taste even better.
French Bread Pizzas (pictured above)
Not only are there a variety of toppings to suit every taste, but all that hearty bread holds up beautifully overnight.
It’s the splash of olive oil at the end that makes this dish (use the best oil you can get your hands on!). The whole dish just gets better with time.
The peanut-ginger sauce on these noodles is so good that my six-year-old called it “like eating a ginormous peanut." And she meant it in the best way.
There’s just something amazing that happens when you bake a crispy crust, then fill it with eggs studded with generous pieces of ham and cheese. My 3rd grader always asks me to make an extra when this one’s on the dinner menu, because she knows it’ll show up in a certain lunch box the very next day.
I have one strict rule about soup for lunch: It’s got to be hearty enough to feel like a real meal. This potato soup recipe is so creamy and filling that it’s not possible to feel anything other than satisfied afterward. (Bonus: No peeling potatoes required.)
The Transformers: By adding a little something here or there, these dinners completely morph into new dishes for lunch.
All that juicy ground beef in The Pioneer Woman’s tacos makes the perfect filling for taco tarts the next day. All you need is one easy-peasy ingredient you can buy at the store.
Roasting a whole chicken is one of those dishes that makes you feel like a bonafide grownup. It smells heavenly, and the whole look is so impressive you’ll feel like you need your own cooking show, STAT. But best of all, dicing up even a cup of leftover chicken turns into delicious sandwiches later in the week.
Serve Trisha Yearwood's bite-size meatballs with a side of rice or pasta and veggies, but don’t forget to save a few (or make a double batch). Slide them down an extra-long toothpick with things like cherry tomatoes, hunks of cheese or pickles, and you’ve got lunch halfway done.
Our favorite version of homemade mac and cheese takes less than 30 minutes to make, but that’s not even the best part. Its rich and creamy cheese sauce is full of sweet potatoes and cauliflower — but even that’s not the best part. My favorite thing about making this pasta is how easily it becomes pasta cups for lunch. Eggs are the secret ingredient, because they bind the pasta together. The rest is so simple that you’ll wonder why you haven’t been doing this all along.
Charity Curley Mathews is the mom of four small rascals who blogs at Foodlets.com about simplifying family food. You’ll find kid-tested recipes full of fresh ingredients with all the shortcuts and tried-and-true parenting tips you need to pull off feeding a family well. She lives in North Carolina with her husband and kids, two naughty puppies plus 120,000 bees (and counting).