5 Healthy Dinners that Transform into Perfect Bring-to-Work Lunches
You need to eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner seven days a week. That’s 21 meals to come up with, shop for, and prepare every week. And while many of us don’t mind routine at breakfast (Oatmeal 5 days a week? Sure!), a lot of us would like to have variety for the lunch and dinner, especially when we’re trying to watch our weight and make healthy choices. Who has time to plan and prep that many healthy, yummy, varied, and portable meals? Certainly not you.
Luckily, there’s a way to have your [insert healthy meal idea] and eat it too. It’s a simple but life-saving secret: make meals for dinner that, with minimal changes, can become a great lunch the following day at work or school. Not only does it save money (not eating out at a restaurant for two meals), it also means planning and prepping less, not to mention reducing food waste!
There are endless dishes whose leftovers can be transformed into a whole new meal – using roasted chicken from dinner to make a chicken salad, rolling last night’s roasted veggies up into a tortilla to create a perfect lunch wrap, and on and on. Here are 5 of my favorite double-duty dishes that make a nutritious and delicious dinner, then morph into a tasty but slightly different lunch.
I love this meal because salmon is anti-inflammatory and protein-rich, but also because the dishes are so simple – all these things benefit from being cooked on the same pan, so why not roast them together?
The leftovers become…topping for a dark-greens salad! Bring the salad leaves in a separate container and heat up your toppings separately; it's best if you chop the asparagus, sweet potato, and salmon into small bites. Goes well with a light vinaigrette!
These chicken tacos up the game because you can actually throw the ingredients in the slow-cooker before work or school and have almost everything you need prepped when you arrive home! Great for a night when you know there really isn’t time to cook.
The leftovers become…nachos! It’s so easy to bring a bag of blue corn or root vegetable chips to work, a reasonable quantity of shredded cheese, and a leftover container of the chicken from this recipe and make a hot plate of nachos! You’ll be the envy of the lunchroom.
Greek Turkey Meatball Gyro / Dippers
Gyros are so flavorful and easy. This recipe works well for a quick meal and still has a good amount of veggies that you can add in to give the gyro a fresh flavor.
The leftovers become…dippable meatballs and tzatziki sauce the next day! I love dippable foods at work, and you don’t have to worry about a gyro getting soggy. You can bring a mixture of the cucumber and tomato as a fresh salad to enjoy while you dip the microwaved meatballs to your heart’s content!
This salad is packed with both flavor and protein, and could serve as a side dish or a main course on a hot summer night when you need filling food but aren’t up for something warm.
The leftovers become...an excellent wrap! I tend to bring a spinach tortilla wrap, some thick lettuce leaves, or (my favorite) a sun-dried tomato tortilla to lunch with a plastic container of something like this slaw, and assemble my wrap at work.
These are already gluten-free, but the adaptations could make them vegetarian (drop the chicken) or lower calorie (change out amounts of cheese, butter, and oil), and the original dish is still so packed with veggies that it’s quite nutritious.
The leftovers become…honestly, I’d keep this the same! If you didn’t want to cart the half of a spaghetti squash to work with you, scraping out the squash shell into a leftovers container makes an easy to reheat pile that looks and tastes like cheesy pasta but is actually a vegetable haven.
Make it WayBetter
You already have a favorite healthy meal – could you do something to spruce up the leftovers and make them not get old for you? Doing this might even make it worthwhile to double the recipe next time!