It’s Sunday evening and you just made a fantastic dinner. Baked salmon and grilled asparagus—is there anything better? But halfway through eating it hits you: You were so distracted by dinner that you forgot to prep something to pack tomorrow for lunch.
The good news is that this is a problem that can be solved. Take that dinner, put it over greens, toss it with a homemade salad dressing, and boom—you’ve got a kick-ass salad to hold you over through the next afternoon.
Ready to get started? Here are four easy dinners that can easily be converted into a salad the next day…
Fajitas → Taco Salad with Avocado-Lime Dressing
Is there anyone that doesn’t love fajitas? They’re the perfect meal to make when you’re entertaining and that means you likely have leftovers. Luckily, fajitas make for easy dinners that can be repurposed to become an award-winning taco salad.
To get started, take those grilled peppers and onions and put them over romaine lettuce. You can throw your protein—whether it be rice and beans, chicken, or something else—in there too.
Next, whip up a simple homemade avocado dressing by mashing together half an avocado (you can also use leftover guac too if you have it), a teaspoon of olive oil, the juice from one large lime, and a sprinkle of chili powder.
Toss the salad in the dressing, adding salt and pepper to taste, and finish with a spoonful of salsa and some sour cream or Mexican cheese.
Roasted Veggies + Chickpeas → Mediterranean Salad
Roasted veggies and chickpeas are the ideal plant-based dinner. Chickpeas are one of the vegan sources of protein and veggies like zucchini, yellow squash, and cauliflower are so versatile they can be added to almost anything, which brings us to our next-day salad.
Put your leftover over mixed greens and then combine a tablespoon of full-fat Greek yogurt with a tablespoon of olive oil and a sprinkle of cumin to make a simple Mediterranean-style dressing.
When you’re ready to eat your lunch, toss all the ingredients together and if you’ve got them, add a scoop of baba ghanoush and harissa. Expert tip: This salad is best enjoyed with a slice of pita bread on the side.
Baked Salmon + Asparagus → Brunch Salad with Tangy Lemon Vinaigrette
Remember that beautiful Sunday night dinner from earlier? Take those grilled asparagus and chop them into bite-sized pieces, then put them and your leftover salmon over arugula or microgreens. If you have access to a stove, poach a couple of eggs to put on top for a lunch that feels ever-so-slightly like brunch.
And what about the dressing? Just squeeze half a lemon on top and then drizzle with olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Steak Dinner → Wilted Spinach Salad
This switch can be done with any type of leftover red meat. The next day, sauté some onions on the stove. Once they’re nice and soft, add the meat to the pan and put a lid on it so both ingredients stay nice and warm.
In the bottom of a large mixing bowl, combine a teaspoon of Dijon mustard with a teaspoon of balsamic and some olive oil, salt, and pepper. Add spinach to the bowl and follow it with the warm ingredients from the saucepan. When you toss everything together, preferably with some tongs, the warm ingredients should cause the spinach to wilt—but not actually cook—giving you a paleo and keto diet-approved salad that’s perfect for colder days.
By taking some inspo from the easy dinners above, you can save money, reduce food waste, and make sure you’re eating like a queen for (at least) two meals a day. As it turns out, successful meal prep is sometimes more about creativity than planning ahead with a few easy dinners.