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Cook Once, Eat Twice Dinner Ideas

Even the most seasoned chefs don’t necessarily have the time to cook a dozen meals each week, and nobody wants to eat the same leftovers for dinner night after night. Luckily, with a few tweaks, you can easily turn one recipe into at least two unique, good-for-you dishes. We’ve rounded up easy cook-once, eat-twice pairings that will make you excited to eat your leftovers!

Day 1: Oven-Barbecued Asian Chicken
Day 2: BBQ Chicken Sandwich

Oven Barbecued Asian Chicken   BBQ Chicken Sandwich

Chicken is a super-versatile protein that goes well with just about anything, and can be transformed seamlessly from dinner to leftovers. Make this finger-licking oven-barbecued Asian chicken recipe one night for dinner, perhaps served with a simple side salad or sauteed greens. Make a few extra chicken thighs and drumsticks, and turn them into a simple BBQ chicken sandwich for lunch the next day. Simply hand-pull the remaining chicken, mix with a touch of BBQ sauce and serve on a whole grain burger bun with condiments of choice and some raw veggies on the side.

Recipes and images: EatingWell.

Day 1: Lemony Chicken and Green Beans
Day 2: Southwestern Vegetable and Chicken Soup

Lemony Chicken and Green Beans   Southwestern Vegetable & Chicken Soup

This transformation turns a lemony chicken dinner into a hearty soup. First, make a simple, quick meal of lightly-breaded chicken breast and sauteed green beans in a tangy lemon-caper sauce. Instead of eating the same thing the next night, transform your chicken and green beans into a soup with a Southern flair. Combine your leftover chicken with veggies, broth, beans and poblano peppers, and boom — you have yourself a soup! Since there is extra acid from the lemon sauce already present in the chicken and bean juices, taste the broth before adding the soup’s lime juice.

Recipes and images: Diabetic Living; EatingWell.

Day 1: Salmon with Toasted Israeli Couscous
Day 2: Southwestern Salmon Cobb Salad

Salmon with Couscous   Salmon Cobb Salad

It’s easy to transform one meal into another when the first meal uses a simple combo of flavors and ingredients. In this case, salmon is cooked with couscous, combined with shallots and red pepper, and finished with a dash of cilantro and oregano. The absence of strong spices or sauces makes it easy to remix the next day, when the extra salmon and couscous can be enjoyed cold or reheated to top a Southwestern-flavored salad for lunch or dinner. You may brush the fish with the adobo sauce described in the recipe or leave plain according to your taste.

Recipes and images: EatingWell.

Day 1: Curried Pork Chops with Roasted Apples and Leeks
Day 2: Pork, Apple and Miso Noodle Soup

Pork Chops   Pork and Miso Soup

Oven-roasted curried pork chops with apples and leeks is a perfect, satisfying weekend dinner. For an easy followup dinner the following, turn your leftovers into a sweet and savory pork apple miso soup. Cube your pork chop from the night before and reheat in a skillet with apple and leeks, then add warmed broth, water and noodles. The curry-miso combination will balance nicely with the sweetness from the roasted apple and pork.

Recipes and images: EatingWell.

Day 1: Sweet and Smoky Tofu
Day 2: Vietnamese Style Tofu Sandwiches

Sweet and Smoky Tofu  Vietnamese-Style Tofu Sandwiches

This sweet and smoky tofu and greens recipe is anything but boring — crispy sweet and spicy tofu blends beautifully with bitter greens and salty feta cheese that hits all the spots. This recipe serves four, so if you’re cooking for two, save half the finished product for a gourmet Vietnamese sandwich to enjoy the next day. If you’re cooking for four, you can double the recipe the first night. All you’ll need for sandwiches on day two is a whole grain baguette, fresh cucumbers, radishes, cilantro, and some DIY sriracha mayo. The fact that your tofu is already flavored, cooked and crisped makes this banh mi even better!

Recipes and images: Clean Eating via Yummly; Fitness Magazine.

Day 1: Simple Summer Spaghetti
Day 2: Spaghetti Frittata

Simple Summer Spaghetti  Spaghetti Frittata

This whole wheat summer spaghetti is easy, balanced and satisfying — perfect for weeknight dinners. Make a few extra servings and you’ll be ready for tomorrow’s spaghetti frittata, which calls for 4 cups of cooked spaghetti and makes a perfect brunch or light dinner. You may want to hold on the extra parmesan cheese, which would already be in your pasta from the night before.

Recipes and images: Rikki Snyder via Yummly; EatingWell.

Day 1: Chickpeas and Kale Stir-Fry
Day 2: Kale and Chickpea Stew

Chickpea and Kale Stirfry   Kale and Chickpea Stew

We can all use a simple, five-ingredient, plant-based meal once in a while to give our bodies and minds a break. This no-hassle chickpea-kale stir-fry fits the bill, and transforms into another easy vegetarian stew the next day. Just add leftovers to veggie broth, tomatoes, herbs and spices, and top with parmesan cheese and crispy bread. Voilà — you’ve got yourself two healthy, satisfying meals.

Recipes and images: Live To Eat by Sigma Sreedharan via Yummly; Naturally Ella via Yummly.

Day 1: Skillet Swiss Steaks
Day 2: Beef Fajitas

Skillet Swiss Steak   Beef Fajitas

Start by making this easy skillet steak with tomatoes and bell peppers one evening — it only takes 30 minutes! The recipe serves four, so if you’re flying solo or simply have leftovers that you want to take with you to the office, simply slice your steaks up, reheat them in the remaining sauce in a pan or microwave, and serve in flour or corn tortillas the next day, peppers and all. Top with fresh avocado and herbs for a complete meal that won’t disappoint. (The fajitas recipe outlines the process for preparing raw beef over a long period of time, but with this transformation, you can simply reheat your leftovers and skip to step 3!)

Recipes and images: EatingWell

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