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What do you make when you need leftovers next day?


I have just realized that it will help my busy Monday night schedule tremendously if I plan to always make something on Sunday nights that will allow for leftovers. There are just two of us but my husband is a big eater, so things I would have thought would allow for leftovers, typically don't :-) I've done meatloaf for this purpose and that works, but I don't want to be doing that every week. Ditto for a Mexican casserole.

I try to cook relatively healthy, but tasty! Any ideas that will fit the bill would be greatly appreciated - I'm thinking along the lines of casseroles and crockpot dishes, but am very open to other possibilities that I haven't thought of - that's why I'm here.

Thanks in advance,

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  1. For leftovers, I love making lasagna, but it's not exactly healthy! Also, I recommend Japanese curry. It's super easy to make, relatively healthy (relative to lasagna, anyway), and if you make a huge stockpot full of it and a bunch of rice, you'll be set for another couple meals. Plus, curry is (in my opinion) one of those things that actually tastes better after a day or two.

    1. This white bean, leek & spinach soup is so simple and one of my absolute favorites, especially for leftovers during the week. Very healthy, but you can beef it up by adding sausage.


      I also cook a lot of recipes from Claudia Roden's The New Book of Middle Eastern Food. Mujadara is easy, filling and re-heats well. I'll have that with a merguez sausage and some rocket and I'm good to go.

      There's also a great chickpea and chicken (thighs) recipe from that cookbook that is great for leftovers, too.

      2 Replies
      1. re: MB fka MB

        Yes, lentils! They're good and good for you, and reheat nicely. I like the french puy lentils especially. Serve under baked salmon on Sunday, refrigerate, and mix in some sausage and spinach on Monday and reheat.

        For just regular leftovers during the week, I'll make a chicken, eggplant & mushroom casserole w/ tomato sauce, penne and cheese.

        1. re: MB fka MB

          This soup looks great, I'll be making it this weeked with some sausage.


        2. I agree with the Japanese curry idea! I'm addicted to Saveur's recipe for Wafuu - Japanese chicken and potato curry - it's very yummy. And lucky it's avaiilable online:


          I also have fallen in love with Dave Lieberman's Mexican Chicken Stew recipe - quick & simple to made with rotisserie chicken as he did it in his show, and easily doubled.



          1 Reply
          1. re: kpzoo

            I made this chicken stew recipe and it's really great the day after. So simple, fast, healthy and flavorful! I will def. add this to my repertoire.

          2. I am not a real fan of leftovers and am replying to your post to urge you to consider a a pressure cooker. Wonderful fresh and healthy meals in minutes. We both use our several times a week. Risotto in 7.5 minutes? Split Pea soup in about 10 and you will need to chop some carrot and onion. Beef stew in about 35. You can even make a cheesecake in a PC.

            5 Replies
            1. re: Candy

              How long does your pressure cooker take to get up to steam? I have an old Presto one and when you add the warm up time it takes at least an hour all together. Have there been improvements in this since the 70s when I received mine? If so, it might be worth getting a new one.

              1. re: coll

                I think a lot of it is going to depend on your range. It is worth getting a new one, they are much safer than they used to be. Mine is Stainless tri-ply with an aluminum core for more even heating too.

                1. re: Candy

                  I have a Viking gas range so I'm OK there. For some reason I've never been afraid of explosions like most people, probably because I never saw one in real life; everyone I know seems to have a horror story from their childhood. Never even replaced the gasket, still looks good to me! Just lucky I guess....well my birthdays coming up so something to think about. Before I learned the low and slow oven method, it was the only way I could get tender meat.

              2. re: Candy

                25 minute short ribs w/wide egg noodles, a very quick meal.

                coll, my new 6qt presto probably takes about 15-20 mins to get up to steam.

                1. re: azhotdish

                  Thanks, now I don't feel so old fashioned!

              3. Soup works well. A sandwich or salad can be added if it's not particularly hearty.

                Chili. You can do chicken chili if you want to try to be healthier. Or replace the beef with ground turkey.

                Lasagna or baked ziti can be made *slightly* more healthy by using part skim ricotta and mozz, and adding in some veggies.

                Lean beef stew in the crockpot. Easy reheat, too.

                Not healthy, but mac and cheese makes for nice leftovers.

                Swedish meatballs can be made in the crockpot. Or regular meatballs in red sauce.

                Shepherd's pie goes over well in my house and makes for good leftovers. I use extra lean ground beef (like Laura's).

                Good luck. I'm sure I'll think of more ideas as soon as I post this :)

                1. How about roasting chicken parts until 3/4 done. Finish one batch in a mushroom-wine sauce and the other batch in a marinara-type sauce another night.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Sarah

                    Or why not just roast a big chicken for Sunday dinner and use those leftovers for chicken enchiladas or quesadillas; stir-fry; pot-pie, etc. throughout the week.

                  2. Pot Roast
                    Chili or other soups
                    Roast Chicken (cooked chicken is the basis for an easy curry recipe.)

                    1. I prep food for the entire week, since work is so crazy. Spare ribs. Big pot of soup or stew. Stir fry and fried rice. Hot sandwich fillings. Stuffed cabbage rolls. Chopped salad. Hard boiled eggs.

                      1. Chicken either whole or pieces so I have leftover - can use in chicken enchiladas, big salad with chicken, chicken fried rice (make a pot of rice the day before as well).

                        chili - make a big pot and freeeze for a quick meal. I freeze the leftover cornbread I usually make as well for an easy dinner - not as good as fresh, but pretty good for a quick meal

                        any meat/fish leftover and I just heat up a bottle of Trader Joe's curry sauce

                        if I have leftover potatoes I usually make homefries the next day with eggs/bacon for breakfast at dinner. Good luck!

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: geminigirl

                          just thought of another that I just did last night - corned beef, I usually buy a big piece for the 2 of us then either can have sandwiches or corned beef hash with eggs and toast.

                        2. I usually cook a number of things on Sunday for my family to use as a variety of leftovers during the week. Roasted meats or poultry is usually a staple, ( recreated in hash, or sandwiches or salads or as is), but in addition a roast, I will typically make a baked pasta/carbohydrate (ziti, lasagne, paella, chicken and rice), and maybe a soup. Keeps us going for a number of days, in a variety of configurations.

                          1. I have a similar-ish problem with regards to lunches during the week - if I don't prepare them over the weekend, I end up having no time during the week to make lunch and having to eat out. I really like lentil salads, especially because they keep rather well. This past week, I made the below farro dish, and am completely in love with it. Also - quiche keeps pretty well, and there are all sorts of variations you can make.


                            1. I make a big pot of beans and vary how I serve them each night - in a soup one night, plain another, with spinach and pasta, with salad and pesto... once the beans are cooked, it's easy to prepare them in a variety of ways

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: patz

                                Ok seriously you have to do a bowl of minestrone, I just did a bowl and fed the whole house I live in and have more and it was so cheap.


                              2. Stuffed cabbage
                                Indian curries (always better the next day, just make fresh rice)
                                Chili and other hearty soups/stews
                                Marinated bean/grain salads (to eat w/sandwiches or an omelet)
                                Roasted veggies (make a big batch + add to pastas, quesadillas, sandwiches, salads, etc)
                                Plain rice (for easy+quick fried rice, add egg/veggies/meat/tofu/whatever)

                                1. I do not eat the same meal, or item two days in a row, however if I need leftovers for later in the week I will make a roast(pork, beef,chicken) on Sunday to use on Tuesday or at the very latest Wednesday. I also make soups, lasagna, and other pasta entrees for use on Tuesday, or Wednesday nights.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: swsidejim

                                    I concur w/ swsidejim, I just can't eat the same food for lunch as dinner the night before, I've got to have a two-meal or 36 respite between. So I usually plan on making a roast on Sunday nights using the leftover for sandwiches, the bones/carcus for stock or soup later in the week when i have more time, the leftover protein for stirfry/casserole/addition to pasta etc....during the winter months I also try and make at least one soup a week which I can freeze and always have some leafy greens and starch/grain/pulses that I can add to stretch or bulk it up if I need something a little more substantial.

                                  2. All really good ideas so far. I think I have to try the japanese curry dish!
                                    I second the soup ideas...We also never eat the same thing 2 nights in a row, but, like others have mentioned I will often make a roasted chicken and then 2 days later use the leftovers for chicken paprikash or enchiladas. the same can be done with any larger cut of meat like a roast, then make a stew or beef stroganoff with the leftovers. Though that may not be much easier on you than preparing a new meal, any of those can be done the night before and heated up on Monday.
                                    I also make a white bean, escarole and chicken (or chicken sausage) dish that reheats nicely.

                                    1. Wow, I am amazed at all these answers, less than 24 hours since my post. Great ideas, thank you so much, everyone!!

                                      1. Food Saver is great too, I seal up everything we don't eat and then you can pull it out a few weeks later and pop it in a pot of water to heat. You could have a little buffet with four or five different things, and it's easier than takeout. This way you'll always know what leftovers you have available!

                                        1. Yes, I'm late here, but for the record: I try to make enough for leftovers almost every evening--not loads, but enough for a dish or two for lunch the next day.

                                          Tonight I'm making a spinach pie. It's very easy. I thaw one kilo of frozen spinach, then squeeze out the water and chop it up, then put it in a large bowl. Then saute a chopped onion and two minced cloves of garlic in butter or olive oil (or both). Cook till soft, then season with a little salt, lots of black pepper, and about two teaspoons of oregano. Remove from heat, tip into the bowl with the spinach. Leave the mixture to cool for a bit, then add a 250g packet of feta cheese and an egg, and a little more oregano, to taste. Adjust seasonings if necessary.

                                          To make the pie shell, I usually use phyllo dough. If that's too fiddly for you, just use regular pie crust or even puff pastry. I put it in an 8" square pyrex pan, cover with more pastry (if using phyllo, slice the pie into six rectangles), then bake at 375 degrees until the top is browned and everything is bubbling (that's the beauty of pyrex--you can see the bubbling). It usually takes less than an hour. You end up with six good-sized pieces, which always means leftovers in my house.

                                          1. Like many others here, I nearly always do the bulk of my cooking on Sunday for the whole week. I usually do one "bulky" item (this week cuban black beans over brown rice with roasted sweet potatoes), one soup (this week chicken/orzo/feta), and one 'medium', like pasta in a homemade sauce with steamed veggies, or a quiche filled with goodies.

                                            What I've found is particularly useful is that whenever I make something that saves well, I freeze enough for another meal- even if it's not a meal on its own. Like... lasagne filling freezes well. Or enchilada sauce. Or plain meatballs. Then, I can add homemade pre-made components to my meals, and Sunday's (and the rest of the week) are a little less frantic. I keep a little list of these 'parts' on the side of the fridge so I don't forget them.

                                            1. Most times when you buy pork tenderloins they come two to a package and since it is only my husband and I we were always throwing away leftover pork and I was in search of a good leftover meal. Now, I grill both of them with a basic rub, have one for dinner and save the other for the next day. The next day I cut the pork into slices along with peppers and onions and saute them all briefly with a touch of oil and hot sauce. Serve it with some salsa, sour cream and tortillas and you have great fajitas.

                                              1. I like big roasts for leftovers. They're usually pretty affordable (I'm thinking a pork shoulder or large chicken) and can easily be translated into a new dish as the week wears on.

                                                1. I make this casserole. It's soooo good and reheats nicely. I used No Yolks instead of egg noodles, but it's a heathly recipe anyway, so it probably doesn't matter what you use. I just prefer the no yolks.


                                                  I also like this one. I usually just cook 1 or 2 pieces of chicken, but make all the sauce, so I can save it to make quickly later in the week. I serve this with no yolks or rice. I also add a ton a fresh pepper when I am cooking up the sauce. Makes a world of different!


                                                  1. depends on how fancy i am hoping monday's dinner will be. but, as its usually a big rushed night for me and my husband, i generally try to make something simple i can either eat as is reheated or used to make something else.

                                                    a beef roast can be served and then leftovers chopped up and tossed with a few other ingredients into the crockpot and placed in the fridge sunday evening. in the morning, pull out and put on low and let stew through the day. a chicken roast can be turned into a soup for the next day similarly. dumplings can be put together right before dinnertime and dropped on top of the soup or stew in time for dinner.
                                                    a ham roast can have the bone removed after dinner and tossed in a pot with some beans, etc for soup.

                                                    making more sauce than pasta means i can reheat the sauce and cook fresh pasta the next day. or use the sauce in another recipe (pizza, lasagna, soup base, etc).

                                                    fried rice is perfect use for leftover rice.

                                                    a rare-cooked oven roast can be sliced thin and used for french dip the next day, or some vietnamese pho. or sliced thin and mixed with pasta over a tossed salad.

                                                    extra steamed and garlicked new potatoes can be chopped and roasted or pan fried as a great side to eggs, etc (im a sucker for breaky food for a quick dinner).

                                                    1. Like others here, we don't like to eat the same thing two nights in a row. But, using a small roast turkey or large roast chicken is a great way to use two nights in a row. My favorite is making turkey or chicken pot pie with the leftovers from a roast. Use frozen veggies (including pearl onions) to save time. I use frozen pastry sheets, cut into squares and brush with egg whites, place on top. Make sure you put a little sherry in the sauce. This also freezes really well, so you may want to do it with leftover turkey.

                                                      1. Do you have a rice cooker? I have a similar weeknight time crunch, and have lately been making a lot of Indian curries (Madhur Jaffrey recipes for the most part) on Sundays, then freezing (most curries freeze well) and microwaving the leftovers on busy weeknights. The rice cooker is what makes this a dream solution, as cooking weeknight dinner essentially involves pushing two appliance "on" buttons.

                                                        1. My favorite leftover meal is chicken enchiladas! Of course they're wonderful the day of, but so great for lunch (or breakfast) or dinner the next day.
                                                          I make a salad, and throw that on top of the reheated chicken enchilada, add salsa, and sour cream tomatoes, olives, scallions, a little cilantro. Oh my.

                                                          1. I too recommend a good roast chicken (get a larger one since you are planning on having enough for leftovers) on Sunday. Then Monday, take the left over roast chicken and shred it. Cook a pot of noodles (angel hair is what we typically have used for this dish). In saute pan, put chicken, fresh pesto (you could make that ahead of time Sunday if you wanted or just buy the premade fresh stuff in the deli section of your supermarket) and then add the noodles. Saute a little to get everything heated through. Add some fresh parmasean cheese and you are good to go.