7 Easy & Creative Ways to Turn Dinner Into Breakfast
Welcome to Thrifty. A weekly column where assistant nutrition editor and registered dietitian, Jessica Ball, keeps it real on how to grocery shop on a budget, make healthy meals for one or two and make earth-friendly choices without overhauling your entire life
Living alone has taught me a lot of things, especially when it comes to cooking for one. Not to mention, I am on a budget, which means eating well can take a little extra planning. As a result, I have learned to be pretty creative when it comes to using up leftovers. Most days, my leftovers from the night before make an appearance as other meals and snacks throughout the day. With a few pantry staples, you can spruce up last night's dinner into something new and appealing for breakfast the next day. After all, it is the most important meal of the day.
7 Ways to Use Leftovers for Breakfast
Not only are these ideas delicious, but they will also help you save money and cut down on food waste. Check out a few of the ways I turn leftovers into a healthy, flavorful breakfast.
Pictured recipe: Potato Hash with Sausage & Fried Egg
1. Add a Fried Egg
When in doubt, put a fried egg on it. This is probably the simplest way to turn dinner into something more morning-friendly. Plus, eggs add a boost of protein (about 6-7 grams per egg) and cook up in a matter of minutes. I add a fried egg on top of leftover grain bowls, salads, risotto, stews and casseroles. If you have rice leftovers, you can turn it into fried rice, too.
2. Use Leftovers on Toast
As a millennial, it might not be that surprising that I love a piece of avocado toast. Though it is a delicious breakfast as is, leftovers can add nutrition and flavor. Try adding leftover vegetables or protein like chicken to your toast for added protein, nutrients and staying power.
Seafood is super healthy, but it can sometimes be hard to eat more of it when you're on a budget. For this reason, when I make fish like salmon or trout, none of it goes to waste. That said, I am not a huge fan of heating up leftover fish as the smell tends to linger. Instead, I add cold leftover salmon over toast with cream cheese for a makeshift "lox". You can add capers, onions, greens, herbs, lemon juice, tomatoes or whatever other toppings your heart desires.
3. Turn It into a Hash
If you have leftover potatoes or vegetables, turn it into a veggie hash for breakfast. This is a breakfast that always sounds good to me because it is super customizable. Sometimes I'll add a can of beans or an egg on top for extra protein. Looking for a lower-carb or lighter option? Try swapping in shredded zucchini for potatoes.
4. Try Savory Oatmeal
Who said that oatmeal has to be sweet? I usually prefer savory food over sweet, and my morning oats are no exception. I treat my oats in the same way I would treat rice, barley, quinoa or any other grain. For breakfast, I mix in leftover vegetables, protein like beans or chicken and sometimes top with an egg. You can use spices and herbs as a salt-free way to boost the flavor.
Pictured recipe: Bacon & Egg Breakfast Tacos
5. Make Breakfast Tacos
Since I usually halve recipes when I'm cooking for myself, I am often left with half of a bag of tortillas (seriously, I have one sitting in my fridge right now). For a quick and filling breakfast, I'll scramble some eggs and maybe some beans and call it breakfast tacos. You can smear avocado on the tortilla, and add cilantro and pickled onions for more flavor. And don't forget the hot sauce.
6. Scramble It in Eggs or an Omelet
Whether it's leftover meat, vegetables, cheese or grains, you can usually find a way to turn it into breakfast if you add eggs. Unlike getting an omelet at a diner, you can customize the flavor of your meal based on what you have and your preferences. Or, scramble up your eggs instead if you like. Whatever you decide to put into it, scrambles and omelets are a tasty, high-protein way to start your day.
7. Eat What Sounds Good
I am far from strict about sticking to "breakfast foods" for breakfast—what are meals, anyway? I have eaten pasta for breakfast on multiple occasions. Or leftover enchiladas sans egg. Dare I say, I'm even a fan of cold pizza (IYKYK). I realize that broadening your horizons of what to eat at breakfast isn't for everyone, and that's fine. But consider this permission to eat what sounds good to you to start your day, even if it's not a typical "breakfast food". If your leftover casserole was so delicious you want to wake up and eat it for breakfast, do it! Meals are meant to be flexible, so don't deny yourself what you have on hand in the name of having a "typical breakfast".