The best chicken is too much chicken

Easy lunch box ideas: leftover chicken tossed with barbecue sauce and served on a bun with sour cream; a banana; pretzels; and sliced plums.

I’ve been lucky enough to do a bunch of media interviews about “Beating the Lunch Box Blues” during the past week. And I try hard to make sure those conversations reflect the same ethos as this blog.

That is, I want the listener or reader to walk away with easy ideas they can put to use right away and with no effort.

Which got me thinking about what that one take-away should be. And I quickly realized it was obvious.

Make too much dinner.

Because probably three-quarters of the lunches I pack for Parker begin life as some sort of dinner leftover.

This is true even when I’m not packing his lunches. This week, for example, Parker is still on vacation. But his lunches begin with dinner the night before. Because it takes no extra effort or time to make a little extra of what I’m preparing for dinner.

Boiling pasta? Add a bit more to the pot. Ditto for rice or roasted vegetables or a ham or steaks on the grill.

But hands down, my favorite “too much” dinner is roasted chicken. You could simply roast a larger chicken than you need. But another way to go is to roast two birds instead of just one.

Eat one, then save the meat from the other for whatever lunches inspire you over the next few days.

And that’s where today’s lunch began. On Sunday, we had friends over for a late lunch. I roasted two chickens on the grill. I kept it simple, just spatchcocking them (cutting out the backbones and laying them flat) and popping them on a baking sheet.

I added salt, pepper, thyme, rosemary, garlic and olive oil both under and over the skin, then set the whole pan right on the grill. Less than an hour later I had two beautifully roasted chickens.

So for today’s lunch, I tossed some of that chicken (cold) with bottled barbecue sauce. Add that and some sour cream to a bun, and we’re good. For sides, we have pretzels, sliced plums and a banana.

By the way, had I wanted (or Parker asked) for the sandwich to be warm, I’d have nuked the chicken and sauce, then popped it a thermos with the bun on the side. Then at lunch he could just assemble it fresh. That way, no mushy bun!

Oh, and if you’d like to hear one of those interviews, listen in to NPR’s Morning Edition, which aired this interview this morning!

Finally, we’re down to the last dozen or so free books for the Buy Lunch, Get Dinner Free! giveaway. So head over to Amazon and preorder “Beating the Lunch Box Blues,” then forward your order confirmation to and I’ll send you a free copy of my last cookbook, “High Flavor, Low Labor.”

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6 Responses to “The best chicken is too much chicken”

  1. cg says:

    Lunch is almost always the previous night’s dinner. I don’t even bother, or rather, I don’t have the time to repurpose it like you do. Instead, lunch is plated and packed even before we serve ourselves the dinner to ensure that lunch is available the next day.

    The only time I don’t pack the previous night’s dinner is if we went out to eat and there weren’t any leftovers.

    I also ALWAYS have a bag of frozen meatballs and a bag of frozen potstickers on hand son in a pinch there is always that for lunch. We’re unable to pack any nuts which bites.

    (oh gosh, no pun intended!)

    • cg says:

      *…potstickers on hand so in a pinch…”

    • Sara says:

      Love potstickers! The frozen are good and usually come with their own dipping sauce. Yum!

    • J.M Hirsch says:

      I love that approach. Bag it up even before you sit down to eat. Now that is streamlining! And frozen staples like those can be serious lifesavers! It is too bad about the nuts. Consider myself lucky Parker’s school is fine with nuts.

  2. Jenni says:

    Just listened to this. Love your voice!