15 Dinners That Leave Leftovers For Lunch The Next Day

If brown-bagging it is what you need to do these days, the best way to not spend hours in the kitchen is to cook dinners that leave leftovers. These fifteen recipes will do exactly that, and if they don’t make enough for you, they can be easily doubled. Soups, casseroles, and skillet meals are all on the list, so there is a wide range of recipes to choose from. but no matter which one you pick, these recipes will make you and the whole family happy.

These recipes are also a great idea for Thermos lunches if you need to take and keep something warm. They are all easy to pack and travel well.

1. Taco Spaghetti

An overhead view of a skillet filled with Taco Spaghetti.
Photo Credit: The Gracious Pantry.

This taco spaghetti is a simple dish to cook on any given weeknight, even if you are getting into the kitchen a little late. It comes together quickly, and you can use any pasta you want to use. Spaghetti is the best option if you have larger containers. If your lunch containers are on the smaller side, opt for smaller pasta, such as elbow or bowtie pasta, which is easier to eat with a spoon.

2. Easy Black Bean Taco Soup

An overhead view of a white crock filled with Black Bean Taco Soup.
Photo Credit: The Gracious Pantry.

If you need a good dinner that you can throw together with ease, this easy black bean taco soup could be just what you’re looking for. It makes eleven cups of soup, so you can easily freeze some leftovers. If eleven cups isn’t enough for you, this recipe can easily be doubled.

3. Chickpea Curry

An overhead view of a wood bowl filled with Chickpea Curry and garnished with fresh, chopped cilantro and a lime wedge.
Photo Credit: The Gracious Pantry.

This chickpea curry is a delicious soup that will warm you for dinner and pack up easily for lunch the next day. You can enjoy it as soup or serve it over a healthy dose of cooked rice and use the broth as a sauce instead, turning this into a rice bowl instead. You can add any type of. meat you like, if you want it, but chicken is recommended for this one.

4. Mom’s Taco Casserole

A spoonful of Taco Salad Casserole from a white casserole dish.
Photo Credit: The Gracious Pantry.

Mom’s taco casserole is one of those recipes that you can make at the end of a long day and feel thoroughly satisfied when you’re done. Serve this with corn chips or scoop some into taco shells for easy tacos. You could potentially even wrap this in a tortilla for a delicious burrito. Leftovers are best packed in a container, although this will work in a Thermos as well.

5. Hearty Fish Stew

An overhead view of a wooden bowl filled with Chunky Fish Stew.
Photo Credit: The Gracious Pantry.

This New England favorite is a great option for all your seafood cravings. This hearty fish stew has chunky pieces of seafood and shrimp, along with a delicious broth and veggies that come together to make a perfect bowl of seafood stew. This is great for a hearty, warming dinner with French bread or garlic bread and a Thermos lunch the next day.

6. Spinach Lentil Soup

An overhead view of a white bowl filled with Spinach Lentil Soup, surrounded by produce and dried lentils.
Photo Credit: The Gracious Pantry.

This simple spinach lentil soup is packed with delicious flavors that only a good lentil soup can provide. It’s chock-full of comforting, homely goodness that leaves you feeling soothed when the meal is done. Pack in the Thermos to take to lunch the next day. These also freeze super well, so you can make it and freeze some for future lunches or dinners.

7. Tuna Noodle Casserole

A bowl filled with tuna noodle casserole sits on a table as a spoon lifts a spoonful of it up and out of the bowl.
Photo Credit: The Gracious Pantry.

Tuna noodle casserole is one of those comfort food meals that hit the spot each and every time. It’s a great dish to enjoy after a long, hard day. It’s a great balance of protein, vegetables, pasta, and creamy goodness that makes it easy to finish off a long day with ease and grace. Serve it with some French bread or garlic bread and a green side salad to round out the meal.

This is best packed in a regular food container. Make sure it’s microwave-safe so you can easily heat it up.

8. Orzo Salad With Pesto

An overhead view of a white bowl filled with orzo pasta with pesto sacue.
Photo Credit: The Gracious Pantry.

Orzo salad with pesto is a light but filling pasta dinner that can easily be packed for lunch. It has tons of delicious pesto flavor while also providing some vegetables and soft cheese. It’s a great pasta salad that you can pair with some kind of meat or a green salad and some garlic bread. This won’t freeze, however, so make sure you only make enough to last a few days.

9. Chili Mac

An overhead view of a white spoon lifting a spoonful of chili mac out of a white bowl.
Photo Credit: The Gracious Pantry.

Chili mac is a crowd-pleaser the whole family will love. Kids adore it, and adults will find it comfort food reminiscent of their own childhood. This one takes you back to your childhood kitchen, feeling safe and warm. Serve it with a bowl of soup, some garlic bread, a side of beans, or a green salad. But no matter what you serve it with, don’t forget the parmesan cheese.

10. Yogurt Chicken

An overhead view of a cast iron skillet filled with yogurt chicken.
Photo Credit: The Gracious Pantry.

Yogurt chicken is delicious stuff. Chicken thighs are cooked in a yogurt marinade made with curry and other tummy-warming spices. Serve this as a main course with rice, quinoa, veggies or any other side dishes you enjoy with Indian flavors. Flatbread or naan would be great with this. You can leave the chicken in whole pieces, or you can shred it and toss everything with pasta.

11. Creamy Kale and Mushroom Pasta

An overhead view looking down into a cast iron skillet filled with Creamy Kale And Mushroom Pasta.
Photo Credit: The Gracious Pantry.

If you love creamy pasta dishes, this creamy kale and mushroom pasta is definitely one to try. The sauce is made with yogurt, giving it a gentle tang that is offset by the spices. Once everything is mixed together the flavors come together to make a delicious dinner that even non-kale lovers will enjoy.

12. German Potato Dumpling Soup

A white bowl sits on a wood surface and is filled with Germany potato dumpling soup.
Photo Credit: The Gracious Pantry.

If you love comfort food, this German potato dumpling soup is about as comforting as you can get. Soft dumplings, tender chicken, and just the right amount of veggies combined with a delicious broth make this an epic meal for eating at the end of a long day. Soup packs well for lunch the next day in a Thermos, and you can serve this for either dinner or lunch with a side of garlic bread.

13. Cavatappi Pasta

An overhead view of a white mixing bowl filled with cavatappi pasta salad.
Photo Credit: The Gracious Pantry.

Cavatappi pasta salad is a fantastic family meal dinner option. It’s easily doubled for extra leftovers and tastes great, warm or cold. The leftovers are easy to pack for lunch the next day, and they taste just as good as the day the pasta was made. Serve with any extra sides you like, such as a salad or garlic bread.

14. Southwest Chicken Crockpot

A white crock filled with Slow Cooker Southwestern Chicken, sits on a wood surface next to a white towel.
Photo Credit: The Gracious Pantry.

Slow cooker meals are comforting and convenient, and this Southwest chicken is exactly that. It’s great on its own as a main course but can also be served over rice, mixed with pasta, tossed with quinoa, or even turned into soup with extra broth. This freezes really well, so stocking your freezer with future meals is a breeze.

15. Italian Wedding Soup

An overhead view of a light green crock filled with Italian wedding soup.
Photo Credit: The Gracious Pantry.

Italian wedding soup is a classic dish well-loved in the States. It’s a hearty soup with chunks of meat, vegetables, and, of course, plenty of pasta. It’s a comfort dish through and through and is great served with all the traditional sides such as garlic bread. A little parmesan sprinkled over the top at serving will really complete the dish.

More From The Gracious Pantry

A dutch oven with a cooked whole chicken topped with rosemary twigs.
Photo Credit: The Gracious Pantry.

Need more dinner ideas? These can help. Chicken and turkey are very versatile foods that can be used to create an unlimited number of dinners. Here are 118 ideas to get you started.

Author: Tiffany McCauley

Title: Food and Travel Journalist

Expertise: Food, cooking, travel


Tiffany McCauley is a nationally syndicated journalist and an award-winning cookbook author and food blogger. She has been featured on MSN, Huffington Post, Country Living Magazine, HealthLine, Redbook, and many more. Her food specialty is healthy comfort food recipes.

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