From Leftovers to Lunchbox

From Leftovers to Lunchboxes

There are 180 days in a school year.  That’s a lot of lunches to pack!  Your new lunchtime BFF this school year--the leftovers in your fridge.

Creatively re-using your leftovers will help you cut down on costly waste (Americans throw away about 35 million tons of food every year) and let you send your little scholars off with a truly delicious mid-day meal.  

Check out these great ideas for turning those dinnertime extras into noontime entrees that will earn you high marks from your kids. 

  • Mac and Cheese Balls

There’s something about bite-size meals that kids just can’t resist.  Turn your leftover mac and cheese into finger-food nuggets and earn an “A” for “Awesome.”  While the recipe encourages you to serve them hot, we can assure you they taste delicious cold.   Make them the night before and pack 'em up so they're ready to go in the morning.  

Macaroni and Cheese Baked Cheese Balls

Muffin Tin Spaghetti
Your kids will be the envy of the cafeteria when they unpack these Spaghetti "Nests" from their lunchboxes. The rewards flow both ways with this recipe--you'll use up the extra pasta in your fridge and undoubtedly be inducted into the "School Lunch Hall of Fame.”  

Muffin Tin Spaghetti Nests

Cold Chicken Tacos
With a few spices and minimal prep time, you can turn cold, leftover chicken into the kind of Taco Tuesday treat your kids look forward to.  Feel free to tweak the Pineapple Salsa recipe as need—use canned pineapple or substitute peaches or mangos, leave out the jalapenos for a milder salsa or use the leftover salsa you already have in the fridge. 

Quick and Tasty Chicken Tacos

Mashed Potato Pancakes
The hardest part of this recipe--having leftover mashed potatoes in the first place.  (Seriously, is there a side dish your family loves more?)  If you can overcome that challenge, then this recipe is a breeze.  Make these the night before, let them cool, wrap in wax paper and pack 'em up.  Add a slice of cold meatloaf or a leftover chicken leg for a hearty, filling lunch that will satisfy your growing kid. 

Mashed Potato Pancakes


Sushi Rice Balls
You know that rice that came with last night’s Chinese take-out and is now sitting forlornly in your fridge?  Give it a twist (and a roll) by turning it into seasoned rice balls.  Pack them with a single  serving can of tuna and some baby carrots for a lunch with a Bento box vibe.   


Sushi Rice Balls

If you've got an idea for re-using leftovers in school lunches, be sure and post it here.  (We mentioned there are 180 days in a school year, right?)  Your fellow Yerdlers could use your help, so let 'em hear from you.