It’s time to break out the lunch boxes … back-to-school season is here! Having a plan for what to serve (or pack) for lunch makes getting ready for the busy school year a whole lot easier! Here's how to make it even more easy, and frugal – use leftovers!

By Kelly Smith, Contributing Writer

It’s time to break out the lunch boxes … back-to-school season is here! And whether you homeschool, or your children attend school outside of the home, having a plan for what to serve (or pack) for lunch makes getting ready for the busy school year a whole lot easier!

When it comes to quick and easy school lunches, leftovers are one of my favorite ways to save time and money! In fact, I’m such a big fan of repurposing dinner leftovers into lunch, you’ll often find lots of ideas in my weekly whole food meal plans.

But rather than just mentioning it in my meal plans, I thought it would be a lot more helpful to share a few of my family’s favorite ways to transform dinner leftovers into healthy, delicious and FUN “lunchables” that kids {and adults} love!

P.S. The adorable bento-style lunchbox shown in the photos below comes from Laptop Lunches. For a helpful review of some of the most popular lunchbox systems, be sure to check out “Which Lunchbox Food Storage System is Right for Your Family?”

When it comes to quick and easy school lunches, one of my favorite ways to save time and money is to transform leftovers,

Rainbow Bean Dip “Lunchable”

For example, if you’ve got leftovers from burrito or taco night, use them to make a savory layered bean dip that will have everyone saying olé to lunch!

Better yet, plan for leftovers, so everyone can enjoy this tasty lunch that only takes minutes to assemble. The great thing about bean dip is it tastes great cold, so no need to warm it. We like to make our own refried beans using either Crockpot cooked black beans or slow cooker pinto beans. (Also shown in photo, Homemade Nut-Free “Kind” Bars.)

When it comes to quick and easy school lunches, one of my favorite ways to save time and money is to transform leftovers,

Chicken & Veggie Bowls

Another “leftovers-to-lunch” favorite are these flavorful chicken & veggie bowls. Simply dice up leftover Grilled FajitasChimichurri Kebabs, or Pineapple Chicken Skewers and mix with leftover cilantro rice. Or if you’re grain-free you’ve got to try my tasty seasoned cauliflower rice. Again, by planning for leftovers, you can toss this delicious lunch together in seconds. (Also shown in photo, Raw Cookie Dough Bites.)

When it comes to quick and easy school lunches, one of my favorite ways to save time and money is to transform leftovers,

Apricot-Apple Chicken Salad

It’s amazing how just a few simple ingredients can transform a mainstay like chicken into a scrumptious lunch in just minutes. This easy-to-make chicken salad works great with leftover grilled chicken, roast chicken or even canned chicken in a pinch. It’s great served alone, with your favorite crackers, over a bed of fresh mesclun greens, or rolled-up in a wrap with some lettuce. (Also shown in photo, Homemade Cherry-Chocolate Chip “Kind” Bars.)

Even more delicious ideas…

There are so many ways to transform dinner leftovers into super quick and tasty lunches. Here are a few more favorites to get you started.

• Combine leftover BBQ Chicken meat with lettuce and avocado slices to create flavorful BBQ Chicken Wraps. (Pack extra BBQ sauce for dipping!)
• Transform leftover Grilled Steak Fajitas into amazing Philly Cheese Steak Subs by thinly slicing the steak and piling it onto rolls with provolone and leftover grilled peppers.
• Use leftover rotisserie chicken (or roasted chicken) to create tasty Ranch Chicken Wraps.
• Pack leftover Turkey-Veggie Meatballs and spaghetti sauce with a side of shredded mozzarella for a hearty make-it-yourself meatball sub.

It’s time to break out the lunch boxes … back-to-school season is here! Having a plan for what to serve (or pack) for lunch makes getting ready for the busy school year a whole lot easier! Here's how to make it even more easy, and frugal – use leftovers!

What are your favorite ways to transform leftovers into lunch?