19 Recipes for Easy Summer Lunches Made From Last Night's Dinner

Jess Richardson | Jul 31, 2019 Food & Party
19 Recipes for Easy Summer Lunches Made From Last Night's Dinner
Image: iStock

20 Recipes For Easy Summer Lunches Made From Last Night's Dinner

One of our favorite things in the whole world is figuring out how to use up leftovers in a way that doesn't taste exactly the same as what we had the night before. Even though we're all about making a big batch of something good and enjoying it for a few days -- for instance, heating up a big pot of soup or chili, or rewarming slices of lasagna -- sometimes, we get bored of eating the same thing over and over again. But just because we're not in the mood to eat the same thing all week long doesn't mean we shouldn't make a big batch of food to use for the leftovers. We just want to make dishes in bulk that are easily transformed the next day into a lunch we can barely recognize from the night before, without doing a ton of extra work. Is that so much to ask? Well, yes and no -- not every dish can turn into something different the next day, but many can!

One of the best ways to do this is to create something absolutely delicious but still relatively mild in flavor the first night. For instance, something with garlic, salt and pepper will easily turn into an Asian-inspired, Mexican-inspired or Italian-inspired dish the next day, whereas a dish that has tons of specific flavors -- such as ginger root -- are only going to be useful for Asian-inspired dishes. For anyone who's really getting into the leftovers game, check out this article on keeping leftovers longer with a fridge organizing hack, which really helps us save money by not throwing away good food. And although we love these summer meals made from last night's dinner, we can't always make that happen -- so check out these healthy lunch ideas for summer for kids, which are perfect for when kids are on summer break. One meal that can be made from leftovers or can make leftovers to turn into something else is tacos. Check out these excellent taco recipes the whole family will love, which can be reimagined as burritos, taco bowls or stuffing for baked potatoes.

  • Dinner: Blackened Tilapia with Homemade Spice Rub

    Blackened Tilapia with Homemade Spice Rub

    This recipe for blackened tilapia with homemade spice rub is both healthy and delicious -- and it's OK to tone down the spices a bit for palates that aren't quite used to something this zingy. Serve with a side of roasted green beans and make some extra filets to store in the fridge for the next day.

  • Lunch: Tilapia Fishcakes

    Tilapia Fishcakes

    These tilapia fishcakes are the perfect lunch the day after having blackened tilapia! Just ignore the seasoning suggestion as it'll still be plenty flavorful from the seasoning the day before, and otherwise, make as directed. Make it even easier by using premade bread crumbs, and serve with leftover cold roasted green beans drizzled with a vinaigrette dressing. 

  • Dinner: Aloo Gobi (Indian Potatoes and Cauliflower)

    Dinner: Aloo Gobi (Indian Potatoes And Cauliflower)

    This recipe for aloo gobi (Indian potatoes and cauliflower) is incredibly easy and so tasty, as well as being fairly authentic Indian cooking. It's a nutritious vegetarian dish that is even better when served with dhal, which are curried lentils, but it's delicious on its own, served with rice.

  • Lunch: Aloo Gobi Frittata

    Lunch: Aloo Gobi Frittata

    For lunch, use up leftovers by making an aloo gobi frittata, which is basically just using all the leftovers in a big omelette-style egg dish. Skip the first two steps in this recipe and head straight step three to use with leftovers!

  • Lunch: Leftover Lamb Gyros With Tzatziki Sauce

    Lunch: Leftover Lamb Gyros With Tzatziki Sauce

    The next day for lunch, make the classic recipe leftover lamb gyros with tzatziki sauce, which really just involves toasting a pita and warming up the meat, plus adding some lettuce, chopped tomatoes and onion. And don't forget the tzatziki sauce.

  • Dinner: Chipotle Cumin Chicken Thighs

    Chipotle Cumin Chicken Thighs

    Make these chipotle cumin chicken thighs for dinner for a flavorful, Mexican-inspired dish. It's absolutely delicious with ears of fresh corn on the cob, and would be tasty with roasted carrots for some added veggies.  

  • Lunch: Chicken Tortilla Soup

    Chicken Tortilla Soup

    This recipe for chicken tortilla soup uses up leftover cumin-spiced chicken thighs, and if there are even more chicken thighs to be gone through, use the remaining tortillas and meat to make tacos with the extra ingredients.

  • Dinner: the Best Baked Garlic Pork Tenderloin

    The Best Baked Garlic Pork Tenderloin

    We love this recipe for the best baked garlic pork tenderloin, which is bursting with juicy flavor. We recommend serving it with fresh peas and baked potatoes. When it comes to baking potatoes, always make extra -- they take forever to cook but are easy to reheat.

  • Lunch: Leftover Pork and Potato Hash

    Leftover Pork and Potato Hash

    For lunch, make this quick leftover pork and potato hash, which is so easy to throw together and takes just one skillet to make happen. We love it with some extra chopped bell pepper folded in too.

  • Dinner: Grilled Garlic Butter Shrimp

    Grilled Garlic Butter Shrimp

    This grilled garlic butter shrimp is so fantastic for a weeknight -- it's a 30-minute meal that is delicious served over pasta or quinoa, or even just paired with crusty bread, as the recipe suggests. To make the next day easier, though, we recommend making it with quinoa.

  • Lunch: Shrimp Avocado Quinoa Bowls

    Shrimp Avocado Quinoa Bowls

    Save leftover cooked shrimp -- and the remaining quinoa -- for these shrimp avocado quinoa bowls. They're a totally different flavor profile, but because the only flavor in the original dish was garlic, they'll be just fine. Serve the shrimp cold with all the other ingredients -- the quinoa can be warmed up or not.

  • Dinner: Pasta With Pesto and a Spinach Side Salad

    Dinner: Pasta With Pesto And A Spinach Side Salad

    This easy homemade pesto pasta recipe is so simple, fresh and even fairly healthful for a pasta dish. Serve it with a side salad made of baby spinach and grated Asiago cheese with a homemade Greek yogurt-based dressing like this one.

  • Lunch: Double Spinach Pasta Casserole with Pesto & Asiago Cheese

    Double Spinach Pasta Casserole with Pesto & Asiago Cheese

    The next day, this double spinach pasta casserole with pesto & Asiago cheese comes together in a snap using the cold leftover pasta, which should be lightly tossed with olive oil before it's put away to prevent it from sticking. It uses up the remaining spinach and Asiago cheese as well.

  • Dinner: Crispy Roast Chicken

    Crispy Roast Chicken

    This recipe for crispy roast chicken yields the simplest recipe we've ever seen for roast chicken. (It requires four ingredients, including salt and pepper and the chicken itself.) It's also the best -- the skin really does come out perfectly crisp. We love it with some pan-sauteed green beans with crunchy almonds, which lead us into tomorrow's lunch. 

  • Lunch: Coronation Chicken Salad

    Coronation Chicken Salad

    We're not sure what it is about coronation chicken salad that makes us so consistently happy, but we really do love it. The combination of curry spice and creaminess, the sweetness of the grapes with the crunch of the almonds. Really, it's our favorite served over lettuce or as a sandwich.  

  • Dinner: Seared Steak With Steamed Asparagus With Lemon Yogurt Sauce

    Seared Steak With Steamed Asparagus with Lemon Yogurt Sauce

    We love to pair this recipe for seared steak with this recipe for steamed asparagus with lemon yogurt sauce. They go together very naturally and lead to wonderful leftovers. (Throw a few baked potatoes in the oven for some starch.) 

  • Lunch: Leftover Steak Sandwich With Fresh Horseradish Sauce

    Leftover Steak Sandwich with Fresh Horseradish Sauce

    One of our absolutely favorite lunches of all time, leftover steak sandwich with fresh horseradish sauce is incredibly delicious and filling, and the sauce finishes off the rest of the Greek yogurt . It's also delicious served with cold leftover asparagus in the remaining sauce.

  • Dinner: Easy Vegetarian Chili

    Easy Vegetarian Chili

    For anyone who's gone overboard at the farmer's market and had too many vegetable, this easy vegetarian chili recipe is an effective way to clean out the fridge and turn that bounty into something healthful. Plus, it freezes easily and leads to easy lunches.

  • Lunch: Chili-Stuffed Baked Potato

    Chili-Stuffed Baked Potato

    Make chili-stuffed baked potatoes the next day for lunch. The best hack here is to actually bake the potatoes the night before when the chili is cooking -- that way, they're primed and ready to go -- and only take 10 minutes to heat up in the oven or toaster oven. If you forget to take this step, you'll need to wait at least an hour for them to cook before lunch. 

More Slideshows