Enjoy these meals as an easy lunch or stress-free dinner!
When it comes to cooking and meal planning, there’s nothing better than finding a recipe that is not only tasty when first served but can also be used for meals throughout the week! We’ve rounded up 13 recipes that make excellent leftovers, and we can’t wait for you to give them a try!
Benefits of Choosing Recipes that Make Good Leftovers
There’s a reason we’ve written an entire article about recipes that make excellent leftovers! We’ve been creating recipes and cooking for a long time. And as much as we love and enjoy it, there will always be nights when we don’t feel like it! Why is it important to have a handful (or two) of recipes that taste just as yummy the next day? Because they will save you– in more ways than one!
- First, utilizing recipes that make good leftovers will save you time! If you know you’ve got that PTA meeting tomorrow night, prepare a recipe tonight that you can enjoy before or after the meeting tomorrow! We love preparing these types of meals on Sunday because they can sustain us for the first half of the week (at least!)
- Second, reusing last night’s meal can save you quite a bit of money. Two meals for the price of one? Yes, please! Plus, buying in bulk to make additional servings usually ends up costing you less, too.
- Reheating yesterday’s dinner for lunch can reduce the amount of stress in your life. We will always jump at the chance to knock a task off our schedule (like making a separate lunch!)
- Preparing healthy meals ahead of time that you can enjoy later is one of the best ways to stick to your health and fitness goals. When you remove the temptation to stop at the vending machine, eat out, or swing through the drive-through, it makes it a lot easier to stay on track!
Our Best Leftover Meals
If you’ve never been a huge fan of eating leftovers, our recipes will change that! We’ve selected 13 meals that will not only taste fantastic tonight but will have you looking forward to your lunch and/or dinner tomorrow!
Skinny White Chicken Enchiladas
When most people think about enchiladas, they might not always associate that with healthy cooking, but we have found a happy medium to get the best of both worlds! With flavors that definitely don’t taste low-fat, but ingredients that say they are, you can make these for a family supper during the week and then have more lunches to enjoy for yourself!
With a 25-minute cook time and only 10 minutes of prep, this recipe just keeps getting better and better! You could serve it with some corn or a fresh side salad for an overall simple meal that is bound to be a hit with the whole family!
Here’s the recipe: Skinny White Chicken Enchiladas
Southwestern Black Bean Casserole
It’s hard to go wrong when it comes to simple Mexican-inspired dishes, and this one is definitely not an exception! It’s kind of like stacks of quesadillas piled into a pan of flavorful goodness. Make it ahead of time and pop it in the oven when you’re ready to bake it.
Another bonus for this recipe is that you probably have most of the ingredients on-hand, making it super easy to throw together when you’re short on time. With beans being the protein source for this one, it also lowers the overall fat content and makes it a nice affordable option for busy families. The added spice of cilantro and cumin gives it a nice kick, so no one will even notice there isn’t any meat in it!
Try it: Southwestern Black Bean Casserole
Slow Cooker Thick and Chucky Beef Stew
With the perfect combination of fresh vegetables, onions, and tender beef, this chunky beef stew will taste even better when you are warming it up for leftovers! This one does take some time to cook, so you can’t just whip it up in a hurry, however, you can make it on a day you have more time and then warm it up the next day and get the same amazing results!
Go ahead and gather up all of your ingredients, prepare the recipe as detailed, throw it all in the crockpot, and not only will you end up with a delicious meal, but your house will also smell amazing!
Using the lean ground chuck roast will make this recipe a less-fatty alternative than other options typically used for stew.
Here’s the recipe: Slow Cooker Thick and Chucky Beef Stew
Cheesy Chicken and Broccoli Casserole
With only 6 ingredients and a start-to-finish time of 35 minutes, this recipe is great to throw together in a hurry and then enjoy as leftovers later on. Although, depending on the size of your crowd, you might want to double or triple the total recipe to ensure you have some left to warm up these excellent leftovers!
The ingredients for this recipe include chicken breasts, broccoli, brown rice, light cream of mushroom soup, curry powder, and low-fat cheese, which you might already have in your pantry and freezer, making it a great option when you don’t really want to go to the store, but need a meal you can throw together!
Try it: Cheesy Chicken and Broccoli Casserole
Honey Ginger Chicken Stir Fry
If you’re looking for a way to reduce some of the fat and carb totals from your favorite stir-fry recipe, this one is going to be right up your alley! Instead of your typical soy sauce, you can combine a few common ingredients, including garlic and honey, that has the perfect balance of sweet and salty to give your stir-fry a new kick that will be just as good when you warm it up for lunch the next day!
The double punch of chicken and broccoli gives you a whopping 26 grams of protein per serving, making this a meal that will fill you up and keep you feeling satisfied long after mealtime!
Here’s the recipe: Honey Ginger Chicken Stir Fry
Skinny Taco Casserole
The flavor of tacos in an easy-to-serve casserole that makes great leftovers makes this one-pan recipe a complete win. Chocked full of protein-packed core ingredients, this recipe gives you a great-tasting option to enjoy your favorite taco flavors!
You could choose to serve it with some leftover rice or Greek yogurt and can top it with some of your favorites, such as guacamole, tomatoes, black olives, or shredded lettuce.
Try it: Skinny Taco Casserole
Egg Roll Bowl
With 30 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber per serving, this egg roll in a bowl will help you knock out those cravings for take-out and keep you focused on your health and fitness goals. With a great combination of veggies in your coleslaw mix, this tasty meal will be delicious and filling from the very first serving to your last batch of excellent leftovers!
Mushrooms, peas, and maybe even some carrots could be some fun ways to add a variety of different flavors the more times you put this recipe into your meal rotation. With a 5-minute prep time and a 20-minute cook time, you can have this meal ready to serve in the time it would’ve taken you to get to the take-out line, saving you more than just money!
Here’s the recipe: Egg Roll Bowl
The Best Chicken Bacon Ranch Casserole
Proteins are an essential part of a healthy diet and this recipe clocks in at 32 grams per serving to give you the benefits of this powerhouse macronutrient and the flavor of your favorite comfort foods! It takes a little bit longer to cook than some recipes, but with the amount of food that you’re able to make, you should have plenty of excellent leftovers to enjoy when you’re more pressed for time.
This would also make a great recipe to make ahead of time. Perfect if you’re preparing for an upcoming surgery or the arrival of a new baby, or that you could take to a family friend as part of a meal train, as it can be stored in the freezer for up to 6 months.
Try it: The Best Chicken Bacon Ranch Casserole
Overnight Slow Cooker Breakfast Casserole
A breakfast recipe that can bake overnight and be ready for the family to enjoy first thing in the morning. Sign us up! A little bit of work before going to bed can pay dividends when you want a little extra sleep but still want your family to be able to enjoy a healthy, hearty breakfast!
This recipe would also be perfect to make during the day, cut up in sections, stick in the freezer, and enjoy throughout the week! While some recipes you make in the slow cooker, you can move up to high to shorten the cooking time, for the eggs, that isn’t recommended here as they can burn and take away from the overall flavors this recipe has to offer. Top with a little bit of Kosher salt or maybe your favorite low-fat salsa for a tasty treat any day of the week.
Here’s the recipe: Overnight Slow Cooker Breakfast Casserole
Thai Tuna and Broccoli Salad
Tuna steak is a great source of protein and healthy omega-3 fatty acids that are highly recommended to be in your daily diet. This recipe gives you the ability to combine this yummy, heart-healthy base with some fun flavors and tasty noodles that you will be looking forward to as excellent leftovers later in the week.
It takes a little bit longer to prep this one, but those extra steps make the cooking process pretty simple, and you will definitely find the results to be worth it! With 33 grams of protein per serving, this recipe is a winner that you to keep in frequent rotation.
Try it: Thai Tuna and Broccoli Salad
5-Ingredient Slow Cooker Chicken Chili Verde
5 ingredients, made in the crockpot, and endless possibilities of what you can do with your leftovers. Can you have any more positive factors in one recipe? We don’t think so! This chicken chile verde has a great mix of protein from your chicken and the white beans. This meal can be very filling on its own or as a filler for some of your favorite bowl recipes.
If you want a little more of a creamy texture, top it with some sour cream, greek yogurt, or avocado.
Here’s the recipe: 5-Ingredient Slow Cooker Chicken Chili Verde
Skinny Mississippi Pot Roast
This recipe probably has one of the shortest prep times of any recipe on our website, clocking in at a whopping 3 minutes! What better way to get your day started than to throw in a lean chuck roast to your crockpot, top it with some flavorful seasonings, and then come home at the end of a workday and have supper basically ready to be served?
The texture of this pot roast will show in every delicious slice. Featuring a slimmed-down cut of beef so that you can have all of the flavors without all of the fat, along with simple, tasty flavorings, including a surprising use of tomato sauce, and you have a recipe that will quickly become a family favorite. Another added bonus, you can slice up any leftovers to enjoy some sandwiches for your lunches for a few days.
Try it: Skinny Mississippi Pot Roast
Instant Pot Chicken Noodle Soup
The instant pot makes this family favorite a little bit easier to make on a busy weeknight. Whether it’s a little chilly outside or you’re just craving something that tastes like home but doesn’t ruin your healthy diet, this is the perfect dish to serve!
By using low-sodium chicken broth along with high-protein chicken breasts, you are able to gain nutritional benefits without losing comfort and flavor. The whole-grain pasta adds a healthy complex carb but can be subbed out if you are on a carb-restricting diet. This mixture creates a great foundation for excellent leftovers that will taste even better than the first time!
Here’s the recipe: Instant Pot Chicken Noodle Soup
Common Questions About Leftovers
You’ve got questions. We’ve got answers! Here are some of the most commonly asked questions about our recipes that make excellent leftovers!
Should I store my leftovers in the refrigerator or freezer?
If you are going to eat the recipe within a couple of days, the fridge is usually fine! If you’d like to save a recipe for longer, say a week or a month, freezing it is the better option.
How long are leftovers good for?
The recipe ingredients will usually determine how long a dish is good for. While fresher is always better, here are some recommendations:
- For most chicken dishes, eat the leftovers within 3 to 4 days if kept in the fridge or 4 to 6 months if frozen.
- Beef dishes are also good for 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator or 2 to 3 months if frozen.
- Fish, like tuna steaks, can be kept in the fridge for 3 to 4 days after cooking and will last up to 4 months in the freezer.
- Vegetarian recipes, like our black bean casserole, will also last up to 4 days in the fridge or up to 6 months in the freezer.
Should I let my leftovers cool first or package them while they’re hot?
Always let your meals cool (preferably to room temperature) before wrapping them up and placing them in the fridge or freezer. This will not only reduce the risk of bacteria to your leftovers but will also protect the food in the fridge or freezer from thawing and bacteria.
What’s the safest way to package my leftovers?
We recommend storing your leftovers in air-tight containers or wrapping them tightly with cling wrap and foil. For an extra layer of protection, you can also seal them in a Ziploc or freezer bag. Typically, the more secure you make them, the safer they will be!
What’s the best way to reheat leftovers?
It depends on the recipe. A general rule of thumb is to reheat them with the same cooking method you used to cook them. For example, if you baked the casserole, reheat the casserole in the oven. You typically want to reheat your leftovers at a lower temperature than you cooked them, never exceeding 350 degrees F. You can cover casseroles and the like with foil to keep the food from drying out. Once the internal temperature has reached 165 degrees F it’s safe to eat. For frozen recipes, thaw the food in the fridge for 12 to 24 hours first. That said, if you’re short on time, most recipes can easily be reheated in the microwave!
Check out the best ways to Reheat Your Leftovers for more details on how to maintain the delicious flavors!
Additional Weeknight Meal Ideas
Did you enjoy these recipes that make excellent leftovers? If so, we also offer several other great resources for easy meal-prepping and simple recipes! Use them to put together a plan for your family each week!
Which one of these recipes that make excellent leftovers are you most looking forward to trying? Let us know in the comment section!