5 tips for turning dinner into lunch

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By Food52

Making lunch in the morning always sounds doable—until it's the morning. Somewhere between making sure the cat is fed, making sure you're fed, brushing your teeth, getting dressed, and sending one last email, you find yourself rushing out the door hoping that there will at least be a slice of birthday cake in the staff kitchen.

Instead of telling yourself every morning that this will be the day you pack yourself a proper lunch, accept your fate as a non-morning-lunch packer and spend those extra ten minutes doing something else. We're not suggesting that you skip lunch—we're big lunch eaters—we're just suggesting that you make lunch while you're making dinner. Here's how:

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5 tips for turning dinner into lunch

1. Double your dinner side.

Choose a hearty side for dinner that keeps well (we're talking Peter Miller's Lentils Folded into Yogurt, Spinach, and Basil or Freekah Salad with Fennel and Mint), then make twice as many servings as you normally would. As you clean up dinner, divide the leftover side into single-serving containers and put some lettuce on top. At lunchtime, turn the concoction upside-down into a bowl for a hearty, effortless salad at work.

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Photo credit: James Ransom/Food52

2. Make a main dish for dinner that tastes even better the next day.

Roast chicken and fresh pasta never taste quite the same reheated the next day, but there are several dishes that do. Make quichestewcurry, or ratatouille for dinner and pack an extra serving for lunch—leftovers never tasted so good.

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3. Transform your dinner into a sandwich.

You don't need to buy cold cuts everytime you want to make a sandwich—just use your main course. Make sure to make a little bit extra of your main protein, then put it between two pieces of bread while you're cleaning up. Making spaghetti? Save the meatballs for a sub. Fried chicken? Slather some bread with mayonnaise and stick it in. Steak? Pair it with chimichurri, mayonnaise, and Texas toast. Tofu? Layer it into a bánh mì-inspired sandwich.

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Photo credit: James Ransom/Food52

4. Save the finishing touches for your dinner plate.

Rather than dress your entire salad at once, serve it onto individual plates before finishing it, then save the rest for lunch and pack the dressing on the side—this will keep the lettuce from getting soggy. The same goes for other additions like cheese on pasta, peanut sauce on your spring rolls, and ice cream on pie (okay, that one goes without saying, and yes, pie counts as lunch—sometimes).

Photo credit: Betty Liu/Food52

5. Turn your leftovers into lunchtime bestovers.

Just because your roasted vegetables will never taste quite the same as they did when they first came out the oven doesn't mean they can't get a second wind. Take five minutes while you clean up dinner to help your leftovers put their best food forward: Cube your roasted or boiled potatoes and and mix them with a little bit of curry and some mayonnaise for potato salad; fry your leftover cous cous or polenta into crispy patties; or shred your roast chicken and put it into a tortilla with some shredded cheese for a quesadilla to reheat at work. 

Photo credit: James Ransom/Food52

Just think of all the things you could do in the morning with 10 extra minutes:

  • Walk the dog around the block another time.
  • Swat flies away from your kombucha SCOBY.
  • Get to know your snooze button.
  • Learn the first few chords to Stairway to Heaven on the guitar.
  • Make yourself a cup of tea and silently ponder that mornings aren't all bad.

Photo credit: James Ransom/Food52

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This article originally appeared on Food52: 5 tips for turning dinner into lunch

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For more back-to-school content, click here, and check out our #BTSselfiesweeps for the chance to win the ultimate back-to-school prize pack!

Back to school supplies inspiration:
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5 tips for turning dinner into lunch

Click through this slideshow for some back to school supply inspiration before you hit the stores. 

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Make sure your young artist has plenty of colored pencils this school year. 

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Any budding mathlete needs a protractor, compass, and plenty of pencils. 

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Be sure to stay organized with plenty of binders and file folders!

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A neat desk starts with all the right supplies in all the right places.

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Make sure you snag a pencil holder to keep track of all your writing utensils. 

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Gearing up for art class? Grab a new set of paint brushes before the school year begins.

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Composition notebooks are a must for any young writer.

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Make sure to get a stylish but sturdy new backpack to carry all these supplies!

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An assignment notebook or planner is sure to help you get everything done on time.

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Don't forget an iconic pink eraser! Pencil-top erasers are never enough.

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And of course, don't forget to assure all summer reading is finished before the first day!

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