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Explore nutrition tips, kids’ meal plans, kids’ activities, recipes and more from pediatric nutritionist, Melissa Halas, MA, RDN, CDE.

Lunch With Leftovers

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Lunch With Leftovers

Does the thought of eating leftovers for lunch leave your kids longing for something more? With these creative ideas, you won’t let leftovers lurking in the fridge any longer.

Imagine… a hot pasta dish for dinner can become a cool pasta salad for lunch. A grilled veggie side dish might make a great sandwich filler the next day. There are no limits to what you can do, so avoid the fast-food frenzy and liven up (and lighten up) your lunch with leftovers!

First – plan ahead.

Keep a few logistical issues in mind: portability, ease of reheating, and appetite satisfaction. Do you have a microwave at work to make a hot lunch? If you want something cold, do you have a refrigerator for safe storage? If not, foods should be kept cold until consumed in an insulated lunch bag with an ice pack.

Second – get creative!

Open your fridge and see your leftovers in a whole new light with these great lunch ideas:

  • Fill a whole-wheat tortilla with leftover meat, vegetables, brown rice and salsa for a satisfying burrito.
  • Mix low-fat or fat-free mayo with leftover tuna, chicken or turkey. Add in lots of healthy fillings for added flavor and crunch, such as Craisins, walnuts, chopped carrots and celery.
  • Combine leftover meat and vegetables with some low-sodium soy-sauce and extra rice for a great stir-fry.
  • Make a scrumptious sandwich with leftover vegetables. Think outside the box and expand on the traditional lettuce and tomato toppings. Try grilled zucchini, grated carrots or roasted peppers.
  • Turn a hot rice, couscous, or another grain dish into a cold rice or pasta salad by adding chopped vegetables and mixing in some light salad dressing or marinade.
  • Top a tasty salad with leftover turkey or chicken (keep dressing on the side until ready-to-eat so it doesn’t get soggy!).
  • Put leftover grilled fish on a hearty whole wheat bun for a heart-healthy sandwich.
  • Add extra meat, vegetables, and pasta to jazz up soups and stews.
  • Make a mini-pizza with a pita or mini bagel; top with sauce, cheese, and leftover veggies.

With these creative ideas, you’ll learn to love leftovers and look forward to your lunch!


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About the Author

Picture of Janel Ovrut Funk, MS, RD, LDN

Janel Ovrut Funk, MS, RD, LDN

Janel works as the college dietitian for The Boston Conservatory where she provides counseling and campus-wide nutrition programming for the student body. She is also a corporate wellness consultant and develops wellness programs for companies, provides nutrition counseling for employees, and gives nutrition presentations relevant to a working professional’s busy life. In addition, she offers personal and practical nutrition counseling for individuals and families. Janel’s goal is to help others understand the importance of eating well and leading a healthy lifestyle.

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