Leftovers for Lunch

baja chicken salad

Now that school has started for the year, I am packing lunches again. I pack lunches for my two children and me almost every day. I dread this chore. It probably seems a little out of character for me to dislike packing school lunches since I love snacky food. I think part of the problem is packing the lunch at 6 am. The food seems so unappetizing at that time. I don’t like to pack the lunch the night before because then the food has a “soggy” quality to it the next day.

One solution I have for my adult school lunch is to cook something for dinner that becomes a good leftover. I can pack a single serving in a tupperware, pull it out of the refrigerator in the morning without having to see it or smell it, and it is ready to reheat or serve at lunchtime at school.

The Pasta, Pesto, and Peas and Orzo with Roasted Vegetables are two of my favorite leftovers for lunch choices. I just discovered this Baja Chicken Salad recipe after taking it to a group event, and it is a new leftover lunch that I will be bringing to school this year.

baja chicken salad closeSalad Ingredients

  • 4 (16-oz) cans black beans
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1/3 c. chopped green onions
  • 1 package (10-oz) frozen corn, thawed
  • 1/3 c. chopped fresh cilantro (plus a small handful more for garnish)
  • 8 skinless boneless chicken breast halves, grilled (could also buy a whole roasted chicken)
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • 1 c. salsa

baja chicken salad green pepperDressing Ingredients

  • 1/2 c. fresh lime juice
  • 1 T. Dijon mustard
  • 2 T. ground cumin
  • 1 t. minced fresh garlic
  • 1 t. pepper
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 3/4 c. olive oil (I like less)
  • 3/4 c. vegetable oil (I like less)

baja chicken salad mixing ingredientsDirections

  • Combine dressing ingredients, mixing well, and let stand at least one hour. (Can be done 1 day ahead.)
  • Drain and rinse black beans. Mix black beans in a large bowl with peppers, onion, corn, and cilantro. Toss with dressing.

baja chicken salad ingredients

  • Cut chicken into strips.
  • Place vegetables with dressing on a large platter or large shallow serving dish. Arrange chicken strips and avocado slices on top.
  • Drizzle with salsa and scatter cilantro over all.


  • Because of the black beans and cilantro, do a teeth check after eating.
  • This recipe serves 8. The recipe can be halved.
  • Toss the avocado slices in lime juice to keep from browning.

cutting avocado

  • I like to roast chicken breasts with skin on and bone in rather than grilling boneless chicken breasts. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Put chicken breasts on a roasting pan. Rub skin with olive oil and season generously with Kosher salt and black pepper. Cook chicken for about 40 minutes until golden on the top and cooked through. Remove from oven and tent with foil. Let rest until cool enough to handle. When cooled, remove skin and pull chicken off the bone; cut into bite sized pieces and set aside.

roasted chicken breastsThis is a great recipe for a big group, for picnics, for potluck dinners, and for lunch. I love that it is a meal in one dish. Anybody else have suggestions for good meals that hold up well in the refrigerator overnight?

2 thoughts on “Leftovers for Lunch

    • Thanks for pinning. The avocado does not always hold up well the next day, so you could leave that out or just add the avocado to individual servings to avoid the browning. I really cover my avocado in lime juice, which helps with the browning.

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