Dinner to Lunch – One Pan Chicken Dinner
The other night for dinner we had this One Pan Chicken Dinner, Roasted Asparagus with Bacon & Lemon and a Leafy Green Salad with sliced Mini Sweet Peppers and Cucumbers with Honey Dijon Dressing. And now it’s dinner to lunch time.
So what the heck is dinner to lunch??? Well, dinner to lunch is all about making dinner with lunch in mind. It’s about making dinner, so that there will intentionally be enough for leftovers and then reinventing those leftovers for lunch.
Healthy, delicious lunches for home, work and/or school. Lunches that are family friendly and that give leftovers a good name.
This One Pan Chicken Dinner recipe is a perfect example of how one dinner can be reinvented into several lunches (or even another light dinner). The first thing I do is make sure that I make enough for leftovers. So for this recipe I often double it or simply add one or two more chicken breasts, depending on who is eating dinner. I know what each person in my family will typically eat (i.e. a whole chicken breast or half a chicken breast) and then I base my calculations on that.
The next thing I do is purchase, prep and/or cook enough of the side ingredients, so there will be enough for dinner, as well as for the reinvented leftovers.
So for this dinner I…
- cooked six chicken breasts instead of four
- roasted enough asparagus for dinner and for Roasted Asparagus Soup (see how below). I also saved some raw asparagus in the fridge
- cooked a half pound of bacon
- washed enough mixed greens for the salad for dinner and for use throughout the week (stored in a zip top bag in the fridge)
- sliced a whole cucumber – used some for our dinner salad and stored the rest in a resealable container in the fridge
- purchased enough mini sweet peppers for our dinner salad and to be used throughout the week
After dinner I…
- let the leftover chicken and sauce cool completely and then stored them in separate airtight containers and placed them in the fridge
- quickly finished making the asparagus soup (see how below), let it cool, transferred it to a mason jar and placed it in the fridge
And with the leftovers and prepped ingredients I can then make any or all of these lunches. The number of lunches that can be served will obviously depend on the amount of leftovers and the number of people eating lunch, but the great thing is, with all the ingredients cooked, prepped and waiting, lunch comes together in no time flat.
Sliced Chicken with Tomato Sauce Dip and Veggies
One really simple way to reinvent the leftovers, is to simply slice the chicken and serve it with some of the sauce pureed as a dip, along with some of the prepped veggies. It can be served warm or cold but my girls happily take it to school in their lunches cold.
This is also a great way to serve the original dinner to younger kids, either as “chicken fingers” to dip or cut up into smaller pieces when age appropriate. Texture is a key player when it comes to kids enjoying foods, especially new foods. I find that pureeing the sauce and serving it as a dip is often a simple way to appeal to kids who are hesitant about chunkier textures. I distinctly remember not liking chunky cooked tomatoes as a kid, but absolutely love them now.
Chicken & Asparagus Pizza with Arugula and Lemon
Pureed leftover sauce can be used for more than just dip, so I usually puree about half of the leftover sauce. Here I used it as pizza sauce, spreading it on some whole grain flatbread, before topping it with shredded mozzarella cheese, chopping leftover cooked chicken, bacon (in the fridge chopped, cooked and ready to use), sliced mini sweet peppers and some of the raw asparagus that I left uncooked in the fridge.
I popped the pizzas into a 400°F oven for 5-10 minutes until the cheese melted. After pulling them out of the oven, I topped the pizzas up with some arugula (also prepped from dinner, washed and waiting in the fridge) and a squeeze of lemon juice.
Roasted Asparagus Soup with Grilled Chicken Wraps
To make the roasted asparagus with bacon and lemon for dinner, I first chopped up the bacon, spread it out on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and cooked it in a 400°F oven for 10 minutes. Then I followed the directions for steps 1 – 3 from this Roasted Asparagus Soup recipe adding an additional 4-5 asparagus spears per person for dinner and tossing the asparagus, leeks and celery with the partially cooked bacon and drippings instead of adding the olive oil.
To serve the asparagus for dinner I used tongs to transfer enough asparagus for dinner to a serving platter, topped it with some of the bacon bits and gave it a squeeze of lemon, setting the baking sheet aside while we ate dinner.
After dinner I transferred the bacon from the baking sheet to a airtight container and placed it in the fridge. Then continued with steps 4 – 9 of the asparagus soup recipe to make the rest of the soup.
To serve this for lunch, I reheated the soup, poured it into individual bowls and garnished it with some grated parmesan cheese and a few bacon bits. While the soup was reheating, I pulled out some whole wheat tortillas, topped them with a spoonful of leftover sauce, leftover chicken slices and grated cheese. I folded the sides of each of the tortillas in and then rolled them up burrito style before grilling them for a few minutes on each side (I did this on the BBQ over medium heat, but you could also do it in a pan). I cut the grilled chicken wraps in half and served them along with the soup.
Chicken Salad with Honey Dijon Dressing Dip
This is a really simple salad that uses up all the little bits of leftovers. You could leave the chicken sliced, as I did here, or chop it up and toss it with the salad. I usually start with it served on the side, when I am serving kids who don’t like everything mixed up and then mix it together once it is more familiar to them. Served with a fun food pick and some Honey Dijon Dressing on the side as a dip, the kids get a kick out of searching through their bowl of delicious treasures.
And there you have it. Dinner to lunch. With very little extra prep, simple lunches and/or light dinners that take only minutes to put together.