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Great Leftover Dinners

Looking for recipes for healthy dinners that are great for two nights. What are your favorites?

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  1. Yesterday I cooked too much rice pilaf with peppers and onions along with baked chicken. Tonight I'm turning the rice into a Mexican rice. I'll add cilantro, a little jalapeno and pinto beans. Serve with tortillas, sour cream and shredded cheese, chopped tomato and lettuce and maybe a taco sauce.

    1. low-fat/lightened Chicken Tikka or Channa Masala. always even better the next day. same goes for Chicken Cacciatore.

      2 Replies
      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

        What do you do to make your Chicken Tikka Masala and Channa Masala light?

        1. re: TampaAurora

          it's actually pretty easy to lighten them. i cut back on the oil (you can add a couple of tablespoons of chicken stock if it's too dry), and use low-fat yogurt or fat free evaporated milk (or a combination of the two) instead of whole milk yogurt or cream.

          the substitutions work well with the CI recipe for Chicken Tikka (which is actually a really good one), and here's the link to a thread with my recipe for lightened Chana Masala:


      2. I'm assuming you mean a meal you make on one night and eat over two nights, without using the original dinner and making it into something new (like a roast chicken into chicken salad)?

        If so - Beef Stew. Stroganoff. Pot Roast.

        1. I coached girls basketball this winter, so consquently I had lots of late nights after school. I ended up making big pots of soup that could be served along side salad and fresh bread from Artisan Bread in 5 for lunch and dinner. I think I ended up cooking only two or three times a week. Lentil soups were my favorite.

          2 Replies
          1. re: northside food

            Soups are a great idea - especially since you can freeze them in portion sizes. This one at the top of this permalink is one of my favorites:


            1. re: northside food

              I just did this with chicken soup last night, then make it thicker adding pasta & cannelini beans and more shredded chicken (lots of cracked black pepper)- it's gonna last for at least one more meal.

            2. One of my favorite go tos on busy week nights is grilled chicken fajitas. We serve them with black beans, salsa & avocado, and a salad w/tomatoes & black olives - they way the kids eat it, I actually deconstruct it for them. We generally have enough for another meal, or at least a few lunches, and just reheat the chicken & vegetables in a tortilla. Or put them in a salad, or can be a quesadilla filling for a quick & easy lunch or dinner.

              1. I find chiis and curries are better the next day.

                1 Reply
                1. re: salsailsa

                  Chilli really works wonders - on day one, eat it traditionally in a bowl with cheese, sour cream, some guac and bread
                  On day 2 make double stuffed jacket potatoes. Bake or nuke potato, scoop out potato mix, mix in with chilli, refill potato, cover with grated cheese and bake till cheese is bubbling, eat with a large tossed green salad

                2. Enchiladas are one of my favoite ways to get a couple of meals. I recently made Chicken enchiladas verde using, roasted chicken breasts, and then tomatillo sauce. As far as cheese goes, I used a mix of different white cheeses, monterey jack, mozzerella, and cotija. I happen to like this combination of cheeses but you can use whatever you like. I make a lot of the tomatillo sauce. The enchiladas when reheated, either individually or as a casserole, will need more sauce, so I hold that seperately. We reheat the sauce too, and then serve a little pitcher of the sauce with the enchiladas.

                  I serve the enchiladas over a salad. I like to make a tossed green salad, nothing too fancy, just iceberg and redleaf lettuce, tomatoes, olives, radishes, and then avocaado. A dollop of sour cream and grated cotjia cheese over everything. My family all love the crunchy cold lettuces under the hot & cheesy tartly sauced enchilada. All are just great textures and perfect for a second meal.

                  Yesterday, after a couple days sitting in a nice hoisin mixture with ginger root, and scallions, I roasted a little pork roast. Last night, we had the bbq pork as an appetizer. What I'll do is save the other part for fried rice, egg foo young or into a nice soup, or better still pork buns. I usually get a very lean little pork roast, about 3-4 lbs, and with this I can get several meals. The char siu can be frozen until I make up my mind, but this little ingredient is key or should I say, the stepping stone to so many other possible meals. I really like these kinds of foods, they allow me to cook a different meal as well as serving it as a "leftover". Sort of doing double duty.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: chef chicklet

                    That sounds really good, chef. I've never thought to serve my enchiladas on salad before, but I can taste it based on your description! Thanks!

                    1. re: Phurstluv

                      Thanks, hope you try it. If I have a guests, I sorta make them eat it this way or I won't shut up. I usaully make the red sauced enchilada, but lately have been leaning towards the under used tomatillo. Now that's good stuff.

                      1. re: chef chicklet

                        i love those salsa verdes. chef c, it sounds like you're cookin' up a storm! have you had your back surgery yet?

                        and i agree, pork roasts are great for several meals -- and styles of cooking. east european, asian, latin. the roast that keeps on giving! ;-).

                  2. Salmon patties made from canned salmon. I love 'em hot off the griddle, or cold, straight out of the fridge. And always with <gasp!> ketchup.

                    10 Replies
                    1. re: Deenso

                      just how mom used to make em... canned salmon, chopped white onion, bay seasoning, breadcrumbs, and eggs... served with ketchup!

                      1. re: Deenso

                        those salmon patties last (at most) until lunch the next day, when they're turned into sandwiches on white bread! ;-).

                        1. re: alkapal

                          Well, yes, you're probably right that they won't last until dinner the next day. After posting about salmon patties on Tuesday, I found myself jonesin' for them last night. And I'm certain the leftovers will end up as lunch this afternoon - on white bread, as specified above - with cucumber salad on the side, and maybe some pickled beets, too.

                          1. re: Deenso

                            deenso, i've also split them and reheated in a skillet for breakfast, with fried eggs served on top, sitting on a good, crispy buttered english muffin (sourdough is good, too). hollandaise over all a plus! ;-). maybe a little fresh dill sprinkled on top, too.

                            if i'm feelin' really spiffy, i'll steam some fresh spinach with a touch of nutmeg, and put it between the salmon and the underlying english muffin. salmon patty florentine! mmmmmm.

                            1. re: alkapal

                              alkapal - you and I seem to think alike a lot of the time. With one exception: you're more ambitious than I am!

                              Love the breakfast idea. No spinach at our house, though - my husband can't eat it anymore for health reasons. But I just might do the split salmon patties with fried eggs for tonight's dinner, since I do have the leftovers from last night. I kind of like having breakfast for dinner occasionally. Porbably have to talk my husband into it, though - he prefers his breakfast for breakfast. Go figure...

                              1. re: Deenso

                                deenso, sometimes i'm just as happy to eat a leftover salmon patty cold from the fridge -- chomping my first bite before the fridge door even closes shut!

                                1. re: alkapal

                                  Did so last night! well, I waited 'til I sat down, 'cause the ketchup was on the table. But still...

                                  1. re: Deenso

                                    thinking about the ketchup with salmon patty concept -- ketchup is basically sugary, vinegary tomato, right? so what else goes with tomato and fish, that one could put in a salmon patty? green onions!

                                    i can't recall if i already linked the salmon croquettes/patties thread. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/560577

                        2. re: Deenso

                          Can I have that recipe for the salmon patties. Seems like an easy staple to keep in the pantry. Thanks.

                          1. re: lilmomma

                            My version is ultra simple. Canned salmon (my personal preference is skinless and boneless), flaked into a bowl and mixed with finely chopped onions, breadcrumbs - I like the Italian-seasoned kind - and an egg. I know others will jump in with more ingredients, probably some really good ideas, but this is the way I make them. I can't give you amounts, but you want to end up with something burger-like, although a little looser. Form the patties and dredge them in more breadcrumbs on both sides and then, just 'cause my mom used to do it, I use the back of a knife to make a crosshatch pattern on them. Then panfry the patties in vegetable oil until they get nicely browned and a little bit crisp.

                            This dish has always, since I was a child (and I'm now 62), included two side dishes: Heinz Vegetarian Beans (heated or not) and cucumber salad. And, of course, ketchup for the patties.

                        3. In the summer I really like to make a light pasta salad. Most recipes make enough for leftovers the next day as well. Giada has a nice version on the Food Network site, Antipasto Salad.

                          1. I do a lot of grilled salmon....and usually serve it fairly simply, with a mango salsa. but the next day, i like to make fish tacos with leftovers. very nice.
                            all healthy. all good.

                            1. I was logging on to ask the same question! But I'm even more so looking for dishes that can be reheated all week, not just two days, without alteration. Husband and I are both working 16 hour days lately, so I've been making various lasagnas on Sundays so we can each microwave when we come home - but after a month of lasagnas, I need something new. Suggestions for things that last even longer than two days, that aren't spicy?

                              5 Replies
                              1. re: thursday

                                With the weather heating up, have some salads in the fridge that will keep several days -- potato, pasta, coleslaw, shredded broccoli, sweet-n-sour carrots, 8-bean. Then pair with a sausage or brat rewarmed in the micro. Or a slice of cold roast beef, lamb, or roasted chicken leg.

                                I couldn't tell from your post -- are you looking for vegetarian meals? If you like something hot for dinner, consider soup. You can make a huge vat of veggie soup, put individual containers in the freezer, drag one or two out to thaw in the fridge during the day, microwave a potato, chop, add to soup. Or add a handful of pre-cooked pasta.

                                1. re: thursday

                                  How about a big batch of enchiladas? you can even make one pan with two different enchilada fillings within it (say a black bean vegetarian in half and chicken in the other half). A big batch of chili is good because you can make it into taco salad with some mixed bag lettuce and chips, or stuff it in microwaved baked potatoes, or fold some into an omelet, etc.

                                  1. re: thursday

                                    Here are some casserole ideas for you--serve with a salad and you've got a complete meal:

                                    Spinach Noodle Casserole

                                    Broccoli Cheddar Strata with Pancetta

                                    I've also made a layered casserole from goodhealthgourmet's black bean dip (layered corn tortillas, taco meat and shredded cheese).

                                    1. re: kattyeyes

                                      That strata looks great! And I like your variation, too- Will have to try that this week. I actually am hypoglycemic, so vegetarian is tough for me unless there's a lot of good protein in there (without regular protein, I get weak). I was doing some great gratins over the winter, but my favorite root vegetables are giving way to leafy greens at the farmer's market, which don't hold up as well...

                                      1. re: thursday

                                        By all means, add cooked sausage or ground beef to the spinach recipe--it would be kinda like spinach stroganoff with beef--and would give you the protein you need. Hope you like! :)

                                  2. Meatloaf. Plated dinner the first night and then sandwiches thereafter.

                                    15 Replies
                                    1. re: CDouglas

                                      Meatloaf actually would have been my top response, with gravy and mashed potatoes as the first meal, and sliced for cold sandwiches, with ketchup, the next day. I hesitated because the OP mentioned "healthy" as part of the criteria. (Don't know about your meatloaf, but mine's kinda fat and calorie-laden.) Also, as with the salmon patties above, the cold, sliced meatloaf sandwiches usually end up as lunch the next day and will very likely never make it to the dinner table. :)

                                      1. re: Deenso

                                        I admit that I must have glossed over the "healthy" part in the original post. Either that or I substituted "hearty" for it. Cold meatloaf sandwiches with ketchup are extraordinary. Corned beef brisket is good as well - if you actually have any leftovers.

                                        1. re: Deenso

                                          Deenso, have you ever tried using ground white-meat turkey as part of your meatloaf mix? it helps reduce the total amount of saturated fat. you can also fold in some sauteed chopped mushrooms to add more fiber and make it less calorie-dense per serving.

                                          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                            Until two years ago, I was allergic to turkey, so I've just never learned to incorporate it into my diet. You're probably right and, now that I can eat anything I like, I should give it a try.

                                            I do remember another high-fiber tip, though - mixing in Quaker Oats instead of breadcrumbs. I haven't done it in ages, so I can't remember the measurements, but I'm thinnking it might be worth an experiment.

                                            1. re: Deenso

                                              I have a recipe for turkey meatloaf from an old Quaker Oats canister. Let me know if you'd like me to post it--it contains shredded carrots if I remember correctly.

                                              1. re: kattyeyes

                                                That would be great, kattyeyes. Please do!

                                                1. re: Deenso

                                                  I started an "interesting meatloaf variations" thread and paraphrased the recipe for you here:


                                                  Hope you enjoy!

                                                  1. re: kattyeyes

                                                    Great! I replied on the new thread.

                                              2. re: Deenso

                                                deenso, i'm curious, how did you become "not" allergic to turkey, and how did you discover that you were no longer allergic?

                                                1. re: alkapal

                                                  I had 6 months of heavy-duty chemo treatments (non-Hodgkins follicular lymphoma - now in remission, thanks very much!). In the months following the completion of my treatment, it occurred to me that the chemicals did very strange things to my blood and my immune system and that there was this remote possibility that it could have affected my allergies. (Guess I was looking for that silver lining we all hear about.) Anyway, I asked my doctor to test my blood for the four things that I hadn't been able to eat for about 30 years: cinnamon, shrimp, fresh turkey and fresh salmon. Doc was skeptical, but figured it was my money, so what the heck. Test scame back with a negative for all four items. Need I say that I celebrated by ordering shrimp cocktail, shrimp tempura, scampi, etc., at nearly every dinner out for the next couple of weeks? And that first piece of grilled salmon? Heaven! Never was big on turkey to begin with, but have had it a couple of times since - eh. And cinnamon toast was one of those things that seems to have been better in memory than in actuality. But the shrimp and salmon thing? Oh, yeah!

                                                  1. re: Deenso

                                                    VERY glad to hear of the remission, Deenso - and cannot even comprehend not being able to eat shrimp or salmon! :::Knocking on wood that I never get food allergies!:::::::

                                                    1. re: LindaWhit

                                                      Thanks, LindaWhit! My food allergies just suddenly developed when I was in my early-to mid-30s. Which is to say, uh, you never know...

                                                      Trust me, I'm making up for all that lost time at every possible opportunity!

                                                      1. re: Deenso

                                                        My weeds/grasses/trees/molds allergies showed up in my late 20s as well - so I know the "out of the blueness" of allergies.

                                                        I just NEVER want any food allergies to happen unless they're foods I already don't like! LOL

                                            2. re: Deenso

                                              Try a meatloaf panini, carmalized onions, fontina and parm, use some sturdy bread, and have a cup of hot marinara sauce eady to dip it in. Pretty good.
                                              Desperate times...

                                              1. re: chef chicklet

                                                Oh MAN does that sound superb! THANK you for the idea!

                                          2. Nothing quite like a good moist, juicy roasted chicken... I do one similar to Ina Garten's with a few tweaks... can either eat the chicken with sides over a few nights or turn it into something else.

                                            Love to make up a big batch of Ratatouille... good with whatever protein you like, or in an omelette or...

                                            Stuffed Baked Potatoes are good and easily revivable


                                            Pasta - keep the extra noodles and sauce separate, and mix upon reheating.

                                            Fried Rice - use the next day in an omelette

                                            1. sauerkraut and meatballs: http://www.chow.com/recipes/13527

                                              makes a nice batch, freezes well, lasts well in the fridge. (probably gets even better, although it's darned tasty right out of the pot!).

                                              it's "healthy" enough -- as long as you don't gorge (but it's tough not to do so).

                                              i ***guess*** you could substitute lean ground turkey or buffalo or emu for some of the ground meat. ;-).

                                              4 Replies
                                              1. re: alkapal

                                                While maybe not great for summer, I've got a good idea.

                                                Spaghetti the first day and spaghetti pie the second day. Mix cold pasta and sauce the day before if possible, then add beaten egg and parm. Fry in a big slab in a hot, heavy pan, flip carefully using a big plate. I like it when the outside gets a bit black and crusty. The egg makes it all set up into a nice solid wedge! It's the best! Use just enough egg to bind, you shouldn't really see scrambled eggs set into your pie.

                                                1. re: scuzzo

                                                  I haven't seen spaghetti pie in years--GREAT idea! A local restaurant used to make it (not a red sauce version, though, if memory serves). It was very tasty. I'll google other variations, but wonder if you have any handy.

                                                  Edit: food for thought in this first recipe I found--lots of room for variation here:

                                                  Question: Where does cottage cheese come in a can fergodssakes? My whole life, the stuff's been in a plastic tub.

                                                  1. re: kattyeyes

                                                    Spaghetti pie is a Dad specialty!!! So maybe Father's Day made me think of it.

                                                    Actually nearly any pasta/sauce combo can be made into spaghetti pie!!! Very versatile.

                                                    I saw an elaborate baked version where you cook long tubes of pasta, line a greased glass bowl (spiraling tubes to line the bowl), then fill bowl with chopped pasta, sauce, cheese and egg to bind, then baked in the oven. Made for a spectacular presentation when sliced! Tip: Don't cut immediately, allow to set up a for 5-10 minutes, then invert onto a platter.

                                                    1. re: kattyeyes

                                                      kat, i saw the can reference, too. maybe that is the closest analog to "tub" in the recipe template. but, a "container" with a specified # ounces would be accurate -- and you would think *that* option would be available in any recipe template.

                                                      can you imagine metallic-flavored cottage cheese?

                                                      i know. now you can unsquinch your eyes! ;-).

                                                2. my favorite leftover combo--bar none--roast leg of lamb followed by lamb hash.

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: silverhawk

                                                    Along those lines:
                                                    Corned beef dinner can become corned beef hash OR reuben soup.
                                                    Many leftover meats (pulled pork, e.g.) can make a reappearance in a strata or frittata or over nachos. One of my favorite restaurants (now closed) made braised beef nachos. KILLER!

                                                    1. re: silverhawk

                                                      And besides gyros, I've made that l.o. lamb, cubed up, into a quick moussaka. It was delicious.

                                                    2. night 1: roast duck
                                                      night 2: fried rice with duck, green onions, snow peas, red bell peppers, garlic, ginger, hoisin, chile-garlic sauce, bird's-eye chiles, egg.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: alkapal

                                                        Optional night 2: duck hash (funky in Guy Fieri's parlance) a la my hometown diner, O'Rourke's. Check out this video if you want to try your hand at a "funky" duck hash: