Sliced flank on a cutting board with chives

Using Leftovers to Make Lunch the Best Meal of the Day

Last Updated on February 12, 2021

For many of us, lunch has become a problem. We’re still at home, far from our typical grab-and-go office lunch spot, and we rarely have the bandwidth to cook a full midday meal. So we snack, eat a quick protein bar, and get back to the grind. Come late afternoon we’re exhausted, hungry, and irritable. Sound familiar?

It doesn’t have to be this way. We can return lunch to that energizing, delicious meal again with one simple solution: fully cooked meat. This can come in the form of leftovers—like last night’s flank steak, pork butt, or roast chicken. If you rarely leave leftovers, you can go an even easier route with ButcherBox Complete—fully cooked beef and chicken designed for quick meals.

Let’s fix lunch. Here are six delicious options that will make lunch exciting and healthy without eating into your time or energy.

5 Minutes of Prep

Steak Salad

Greens, vegetables, steak, and dressing—all you need for a well-rounded, healthy, and filling lunch. Don’t be afraid to get creative! With unlimited vegetable and dressing combinations, and fun additions like blue cheese or roasted walnuts, this is one of the most versatile and quick lunch options you can go for.

Creamy Chicken Salad

Chicken salad can be added to a bed of greens, put on a sandwich, or simply eaten on its own. If you’re looking for a twist on the traditional recipe, use last night’s chicken and the vinaigrette and salad from ButcherBox’s chicken salad recipe. The crunch of fresh apples and pistachios make this simple dish feel complex and full.

Tuscan Lunch

In my family, “Tuscan Lunch” was our fancy name for a modified charcuterie board. You can replace or supplement cured meats with cold sliced steak or chicken from the night before, and then add the usual suspects—cheese, crackers, olives, pickled vegetables, sliced cucumbers, tomatoes, and a hardboiled egg—for an Instagram-worthy spread that looks as good as it tastes.

Caprese Steak Sandwich

This open-faced sandwich is as easy as it is fancy. Caprese salads usually accompany a good steak, but it’s just as good all together. You can toast the bread and quickly warm the cooked steak in a pan, or eat everything cold.

20+ Minutes of Prep

Cubano Sandwich

Looking for a use for that leftover pork butt roast? A classic, the Cubano sandwich has it all—it’s creamy, salty, crunchy, and savory. Toast it all on a skillet like a panini for a quick, hot lunch.

Spicy Chicken Enchiladas

Enchiladas may sound time consuming, but with only 10 minutes of prep and 20 minutes of cook time, you’ll be eating full-flavor Mexican cuisine right in your home, wondering why you hadn’t thought of this before. And substitutions are easy. You can replace the shredded chicken with either steak or pork, or seasoned ground beef.

Jonathan is a freelance writer/editor and rock climbing route-setter based in Boston, MA. When he’s not wielding words or making people fall off walls, he’s probably outside somewhere, hiking or climbing or surfing poorly. He’s been known, on occasion, to drop everything and travel the world for months at a time. Learn more about Jonathan at