Would you believe me if I said you can cook a meal in less than 5 minutes? As a registered dietitian who gets asked about meal planning I want to talk about some ideas for using leftovers! Even though I love to cook, l also know how great it feels to find leftovers in my fridge. Keeping leftovers in the fridge can help support healthy food choices even on the busiest of days. Having a leftover lunch is one of my favourites!
If we purposely make too much food one night, we can have food already made for another day. I find the trick is to change up the leftovers to make a new dish. That way leftovers don’t feel boring and repetitive. For example, you could grill a chicken breast with rice and sautéed veggies one night. Then the next day for lunch or dinner, you can open up a can of black beans and mix it with the leftover rice and veggies. This makes a super easy 5-minute burrito bowl!
So… are you starting to believe me when I say you can make a nutritious and delicious meal in less than 5 minutes?
What can I make with the leftovers in my fridge?
This 5-minute easy leftover lunch recipe is a great example on how to use leftovers! I love the combination of the savoury spiced quinoa with the sweeter peppers and butternut squash. If you are following a low FODMAP diet, keep the serving of butternut squash to a maximum ⅓ cup. By keeping the butternut squash separate from the zucchini and peppers, it makes it easy to measure out ⅓ cup for your meal.
NOTE: This recipe was originally made using red peppers instead of green peppers. However, the updated FODMAP research has indicated that red peppers are high in FODMAP at portions of 1/3 of a pepper. Instead, we have switched to green peppers. But, if you are able to tolerate red peppers feel free to replace.
“Ok, if the simplicity and speed of this meal comes from using leftovers, then what am I supposed to make the night before?”
Leftover Meal Ideas
Keep it simple. Here are 3 balanced meal ideas. They don’t need a fancy recipe. All you need to do is a little advanced preparation for this 5-minute easy leftover lunch recipe:
- Grill chicken breast in a frying pan. Serve with quinoa and veggies (that have been cooked as described in the recipe below).
- Open up a can of lentils. Serve with a bowl of fresh green salad, grated cheddar cheese, quinoa and veggies. (That have been cooked as described in the recipe below). Season dish with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and salt.
- Pan fry a salmon fillet. Chop fresh tomatoes and cucumbers and serve with quinoa and veggies. (That have been cooked as described in the recipe below).
You can then use the leftover quinoa and veggies to make this easy leftover lunch recipe. In less than 5 minutes the next day! Another great quinoa recipe that makes excellent leftovers is this lemon quinoa salad.
However, this recipe is only a template! I want to emphasize that you don’t have to use these specific ingredients. The spice blend in these vegetables will go well with a large assortment of veggies and grains. So, I invite you to get creative and adapt this recipe to the items you find in your fridge. Make extra portions one night, so that you can make a quick and delicious new (leftover) dish the next night!
Low FODMAP recipe ideas
Love this low FODMAP recipe as much as we do? Our collection of low FODMAP recipes were created to help you navigate the low FODMAP diet. Many of our patients have tried implementing the low FODMAP diet on their own. However, this diet should be conducted with the support of a registered dietitian. At Ignite Nutrition we offer one-on-one nutrition counselling to help you start on the low FODMAP diet with guidance.
5-minute Easy Leftover Lunch (Low FODMAP option)
- 2 cups cooked quinoa
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp dried basil
- ½ tsp thyme
- ¼ tsp salt
- ½ medium butternut squash diced small, roasted
- ½ medium zucchini, chopped in thick circular slices
- 1 green pepper, sliced
- Canola oil
- 4 eggs
- ** To make this a 5-minute easy leftover lunch, use leftover quinoa and veggies cooked for a different meal (Step 2-5). Use the leftover quinoa and veggies to assemble this 5-minute easy leftover lunch recipe the following day by skipping to Step 6.
- Preheat oven to 450°F.
- Peel and chop butternut squash into small cubes, pepper into thin slices, and zucchini into thick circular slices.
- Place squash and zucchini on baking sheet and season lightly with salt and pepper. Drizzle with about 2 tsp of canola oil and mix into veggies. (Note: if you are following a low FODMAP diet, it will be better to keep the butternut squash separate when mixing these veggies. This will make measuring out a low FODMAP portion of butternut squash easier after they are cooked).
- Roast in the oven for 15 minutes, stirring once halfway through. In the last 5 minutes, add the diced zucchini to the pan.
- In a small frying pan, add a small amount of oil and heat. Crack two eggs into pan and fry until desired firmness. Sprinkle with a little basil and pepper (or any of your favorite low FODMAP spices)
- Serve with heated quinoa and veggies in a bowl. (Note: for low FODMAP, keep butternut squash portion sizes to ⅓ cup)
- Top with cooked eggs and enjoy!
- For low FODMAP, keep butternut squash at ⅓ cup portions
- If over-easy eggs is not your thing, try sunny-side up, scrambled or a chopped boiled egg.
- Change up the roasted veggies – try carrots, eggplant or bok choy!
**Last reviewed May 2022 for Monash FODMAP portions
An original recipe by Nancy Gammack
University of Alberta Dietetic Intern