10 dinners that make great lunch leftovers
Make your midweek meals and roasts stretch further with our top 10 ideas for dinners that taste even better as leftovers for lunch the next day.
The cost of food is on an upward trajectory, so it's good to get into the practice of batch cooking enough for two or more meals. We've selected 10 easy suppers that stretch to leftovers you can take for lunch the next day.
Make the most of surplus ingredients such as leftover chicken, rice and pasta to use as the basis for your lunch. Or make an extra batch of your whole meal the night before to keep for your lunchbox and pep up with some quick extra ingredient additions. Also read our handy tips below for safely storing and serving food up the second time around.
Top tips for storing and transporting your lunch:
- If you're planning to keep food for the next day, cool it as quickly as possible and get it into the fridge. Once cooked, you should aim to get it into the fridge within 90 minutes. Avoid the temptation to leave things cooling on the hob overnight.
- Reheat food so that it's piping hot the whole way through, otherwise you may risk food poisoning.
- Keep food in the fridge until you're ready to use it. Don't pop it in your bag to take to work and then leave it there until lunchtime.
- If you've made a big vat of food, decide what you'll need and freeze the rest in portions. Don't wait a few days and then freeze or even worse let it go off and have to throw it away.
- Keep your foods in well-covered and sealed containers to avoid cross-contamination. You don't want raw food that needs to be cooked dripping onto food that's ready to eat. Smells can also transfer, so good sealing will avoid your milk tasting of onions!
For more info on food safety, read our guide on how to reheat leftovers.
Sunday roasts usually yield surplus food, but bank on it by picking up a bigger bird than usual. Roast chicken is versatile and flexible, a great combination for those on a budget. Try our foolproof slow roast chicken then take time to pick off every scrap of meat.
Pack your leftovers into a hearty yet healthy Caesar pitta sandwich, piled high with salad and homemade dressing. Cooked chicken is also great for tossing into pasta dishes – stir up a comforting bowl of chicken & bacon pasta or zingy honey-mustard chicken pasta salad. For a light lunch, try our aromatic Thai chicken & mushroom broth or classic roast chicken soup. You can use the carcass to make a DIY stock, too.
Bake this colourful, multi-layered vegetarian pie for a meat-free dinner to banish the working week blues. Make more than you need then take it in a plastic container for Tuesday's lunch.
This pie is just as delicious served cold the next day and can be bulked out with salad, potatoes or grains. Team it with a harissa-spiced chickpea salad a crunchy broccoli salad or nutrient-packed quinoa tabbouleh. For something more substantial, serve with sweet potato fries or potato wedges.
Take your tastebuds on a trip to the Mediterranean with this fuss-free Greek-inspired traybake. Throw together some feta, olives, pitta bread, butter beans, courgettes and tomatoes, and roast them on a tray for an easy midweek meal. Enjoy with a squeeze of lemon, and allow the traybake to cool before storing leftovers for the next day.
This recipe is perfect for stuffing into pitta breads or rolling up in tortillas. Fill two toasted and halved pitta breads with the leftover veg, feta and beans, and top with a dollop of hummus or yogurt. Serve with salad leaves.
More like this
Look out for offers on fish in supermarkets – you can often buy family-sized packs at slashed prices. Or check out the freezer section for cheaper fillets of salmon or cod. This irresistibly sticky teriyaki salmon makes a simple solo supper, or you can multiply the quantities to feed more. Throw in enough rice for lunch the next day then serve with steamed pak choi.
Leftover rice is one of the most versatile ingredients for whipping up a speedy stir-fry or salad the next day. If you've also got some salmon leftover then reinvent them in this family-friendly salmon egg-fried rice. For a healthy lunch, our fridge-raid fried rice dish combines leftover rice with chicken strips and plenty of crunchy veg, or why not rustle up this pineapple fried rice for a veggie option.
For more quick and easy lunch ideas, check out our collection of leftover rice recipes.
Rustle up this ricotta, broccoli and new potato frittata with a mixed bean salad in just half an hour. It's packed full of goodness and makes an easy veggie midweek meal, plus this recipe gives enough leftovers for you to enjoy the next day.
Take your leftover frittata up a notch with an injection of spice. Cut up into wedges and pack them along with the bean salad into lunchboxes, then drizzle over some sriracha (or pesto for something milder). Chill until ready to serve.
Keep it light with this healthy pork and aubergine noodle stir-fry. Pork mince is an affordable way to bulk up the dish and it soaks up all the zingy flavours of soy, ginger and garlic. Furthermore, this speedy meal for two gives you enough leftovers to make pork and aubergine lettuce cups for lunch the next day
Whip up more quick and easy stir-fry recipes.
To make the pork & aubergine lettuce cups, spoon the leftover stir-fry into bento-style lunchboxes and pack the compartments with the leaves of a Little Gem lettuce, shredded carrot, lime wedges, chilli sauce and chopped peanuts or cashews, if you like. Spoon the stir-fry into the lettuce leaves and scatter over the toppings.
Pasta is a great ingredient for leftovers and can easily be perked up with the addition of salad leaves and sauces. Whip up this citrusy orzo and cauliflower dish in under half an hour and reserve some extra for your lunchbox the next day.
Pack the leftover orzo into a lunchbox and stir in a handful of rocket. Top with pitted Kalamata olives, halved, sliced artichokes, and some lemon zest.
Fill you lunchbox will more hearty pasta salads.
Warm yourself up on chilly weeknights with this comfortingly creamy prawn risotto, flavoured with punchy watercress, parmesan, pancetta and a touch of lemon. It takes only 30 minutes to cook so you don't have to spend ages labouring over the hob. Before adding the prawns, spoon half the risotto onto a plate to use for leftovers the next day and reserve some of the pancetta and watercress.
Divide the leftover risotto between two lunchboxes and top with the remaining pancetta. Warm through and serve with watercress or salad.
Serve up a Mexican-inspired feast with these healthy chicken tacos. Combine with a mouthwatering filling of garlicky black beans and charred sweetcorn, plus homemade seasoning for an easy midweek meal that's full of flavour. For lunch the next day, reserve two spoonfuls each of the chicken and sweetcorn mix plus a couple of tortillas and toppings, then serve the rest in bowls alongside the cabbage, yogurt, lime wedges, coriander, chilli sauce and tortillas for everyone to dig into.
Use your leftover filling to make some gourmet chicken and sweetcorn wraps which will make you the envy of any workplace. Dollop yogurt on the two large tortillas and top with the leftover chicken, sweetcorn mix, and any leftover cabbage. Add some shredded lettuce, avocado or any veg you fancy. Roll up the tortillas, sealing the ends, and wrap in foil. Chill in the fridge until ready to eat.
One-pots are a convenient midweek meal option as they not only save on washing up, but are normally quick to prepare. Make the most of a pack of sausages in this flavoursome casserole which handily delivers three of your five-a-day. It also uses pouches of ready-to-cook roast veg and puy lentils so all you have to do is throw everything together and pop it in the oven. Cook a few extra sausages alongside in the oven on a tray for lunch the net day or make an extra batch of the whole casserole.
Find more easy one-pot recipes.
Sausages lend themselves well to a range of leftover dishes. Fry them up with some leftover veg to make a comforting hash for brunch or lunch the next day – some of our variations include sausage & leek hash, sausage, mustard & apple hash or sausage & kale hash topped with a fried egg. Heading for a picnic on the weekend? Use up any leftover sausagemeat to make a tasty snack, such as our our cheesy sausage & bean pies or super sausage rolls.
Discover more inventive ways to use up leftover sausages, from toad-in-the hole to tempting traybakes.
Find more inventive ideas for using up leftovers:
25 ways to use up leftover ingredients
How to use up Sunday lunch leftovers
The best leftover chicken recipes
How to reheat leftovers
The best leftover ham recipes
What to do with leftover lamb
Top 20 ways with turkey leftovers
Top 10 ways to use up leftover bread
How to use up leftover sausages