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What to Do With Cookout Leftovers

Nothing says summer like grilling burgers and barbecue chicken in the backyard. A healthy BBQ is a fun and delicious time, but sometimes we all misjudge and cook more than everyone eats—and you’re left consuming leftovers for the entire week. 

Luckily you don’t have to eat the same exact meal for days straight. There are lots of ways to turn cookout stars into completely new, healthy meals for lunch, dinner, and even breakfast. Bookmark this page because you’re sure to love and be inspired by the ideas below.

BBQ Chicken

Pulled BBQ Chicken Lettuce Wrap

Toss diced leftover chicken with honey mustard sauce. Place in large lettuce leaves and top with sliced tomato and avocado. “Kick it up a notch with crumbled blue cheese,” says Juan Muñoz, executive chef of Proper Food, an elevated grab-and-go chain.

BBQ Chicken Salad with Tomatoes & Corn

Top greens with leftover chicken, tomatoes, red onion, blue cheese, and corn kernels from corn on the cob. Drizzle with a healthy DIY ranch dressing made with Greek yogurt. (To cut kernels from the cob, use Muñoz’s mess-free method: Take a large bowl and place a smaller bowl or coffee mug face-down in the middle. Lay a wet towel on top of that. Place the flat end of a corn cob on that base so you can hold the cob vertically. Using a knife, cut the kernels off from top to bottom. Rotate the entire large bowl and keep slicing kernels off like this. When done, all the corn will be in the towel, which you can bunch together to transfer.)

BBQ Chicken Pizza

Top fresh or store-bought whole-wheat crust (or cauliflower crust) with a thin layer of barbecue sauce. Add diced leftover chicken, sliced onions, spinach, and cheese. Bake until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Grilled Steak

Grilled Hanger Steak Salad

Combine arugula, grilled onions, cooked farro, pickled parsley, and roasted garlic. Top with sliced steak and drizzle with black pepper and lemon vinaigrette, Muñoz suggests.

Grilled Hanger Steak Dinner Plate

Roast potatoes tossed in garlic powder and onion powder, sauté kale, and reheat the steak. To serve, top the steak with your favorite pesto, Muñoz says.

Southwestern Grilled Steak Salad

Toss lettuce with kernels from corn on the cob, chopped tomato, and diced avocado. Top with leftover sliced steak and lime-cilantro vinaigrette.

Steak Fajitas

Sauté sliced onions, any color bell peppers, and summer squash. Fill tortillas with veggies and leftover sliced steak. Top with guacamole, if desired. 

Hamburgers, Turkey Burgers, and Chicken Burgers

Burger Breakfast

Muñoz suggests sautéing finely diced sweet potatoes and onion with garlic, then adding crumbled burger, spinach, and egg whites or whole eggs. Scramble everything together.

Stuffed Peppers

Combine crumbled burger with cooked brown rice or quinoa and any seasonings. Stuff halved bell peppers with mixture and top with shredded cheese. Bake until peppers are soft and cheese is melted. 

Plant-Based Burgers

Plant-Based Burger Taco Salad

Sauté onion and garlic, then add crumbled veggie burger and chili powder to make taco “meat”, Muñoz says. Divide romaine lettuce between plates or bowls and add “meat”, black beans, diced tomatoes, guacamole, and cheese, if desired. Top with a lime vinaigrette.

Black Bean Breakfast Burger

Reheat a black bean burger. Place in an English muffin with a fried egg, lettuce, sliced tomato, and sliced avocado.

Corn on the Cob

Roasted Corn Vegan Soup

Blanch lots of onions, then add corn kernels and veggie stock and bring to a boil. Simmer for about 30 minutes. In batches, transfer to a blender and puree until smooth. Transfer soup back to the original pot and add salt, pepper, and a tiny bit of agave to taste, Muñoz says.

Veggie Tacos with Grilled Portabellas, Poblanos, and Corn

Toss freshly cooked or leftover grilled portabellas and poblano peppers with lime juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper. In a separate bowl, mix leftover corn kernels, halved cherry tomatoes, salsa verde, and cilantro. Top tortillas with veggies, corn-tomato salsa, and sliced avocado.

Quinoa and Corn Salad

Cut the kernels from the cob. Toss with cooked quinoa, parsley, chopped roasted peppers, toasted almond slivers, and a lemon-herb vinaigrette, Muñoz suggests. Top with feta cheese, if desired.

Grilled Vegetables

Grilled Veggie Scramble

Scramble egg whites or whole eggs with leftover grilled vegetables. Top with tarragon, chives, and parmesan cheese. Finish with olive oil and fleur de sel, Muñoz says.

Grilled Veggie Wrap

Spread your favorite hummus on a whole-wheat tortilla. Add leftover grilled vegetables, arugula, cooked quinoa, Greek yogurt mixed with lemon juice, and feta, if desired, Muñoz suggests.

Grilled Veggie Pasta Salad

Mix cooked whole-wheat pasta, leftover grilled vegetables, and balsamic vinaigrette. Toss with fresh basil and parmesan, if desired.


Watermelon Salad with Feta and Mint

Combine cubed watermelon, crumbled feta, and minced jalapeño. Toss with olive oil, lime juice, and salt. Add chopped fresh mint and toss again.

Watermelon Smoothie

Blend watermelon, kefir, strawberries, cucumber, and fresh mint, if desired.


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