Mornings can be tough—you don’t usually wake up with the urge create a whole meal from scratch, and you might even struggle to pour a measly bowl of cereal. Yet by using your meal from the night before as a base for a hearty breakfast, you’re one step closer to getting the nutrients you need to power your morning, without all the hassle. (And, you can also always make breakfast for dinner, too.)
The best part? These recipes are filling and dense, so you’ll stay satiated until lunch. Seems a lot better than grabbing a breakfast pastry from your local coffee shop, right? Here are four delicious dinners you can turn into breakfast in the AM.
Farro bowl for dinner, add an egg at breakfast
You don’t need to stick with oatmeal for breakfast when there are so many other hearty grains to choose from, many of which can be easily repurposed from dinnertime.
"Ancient grains like farro are a great dinner staple that bode well for breakfast, too," says Elizabeth Shaw, MS, a nutritionist based in San Diego. "Just be sure you're choosing a brand that's minimally processed, like Bob's Red Mill's varieties, so that you get more fiber and nutrients than others that strip the grain, removing some of its nutrition."
To cook farro, Shaw recommends doubling the portion of water to farro (a 2:1 ratio) and cooking over medium heat until tender for about 30 minutes before draining and rinsing with cool water. "Flavor as desired," she says. "I like lots of fresh herbs like cilantro, and top with an egg (preferably over medium), black beans, and some fresh salsa for a fun twist on breakfast."
Plus, get this: One serving of farro packs 7 grams of filling fiber and 7 grams of protein, making it an excellent morning staple. "Experimenting with farro is a great way to increase the nutrient density of your breakfast, while also allowing you to try new foods," Shaw says.
In your farro bowl, add any veggies or proteins you like. Then, in the morning, use that grain bowl and top with an egg for choline and protein, two nutrients that improve cognitive thinking and brain health.
Baked salmon for dinner, turn it into DIY avocado lox toast
"Not only is salmon an excellent way to get your omega 3s in for dinner, but it also works perfectly as a leftover on top of your avocado toast any day of the week," says Shaw.
This is a powerful combo: Salmon helps boost your protein and healthy fat intake, while avocado toast is rich in more healthy fats to fill you up until lunch.
"Not only does a 3-ounce serving of salmon pack roughly 17 grams of high-quality protein, it also contains over 20% of your daily value for vitamin B12 and B6,” Shaw adds. Read: more energy and staying power. "While you can certainly doctor salmon to your liking, my favorite ways are to bake in the oven until fork tender with a light glaze (or the internal temperature reaches 145 degrees Fahrenheit)."
Serve as desired, or tear the filet into small pieces and spread over your morning toast as a topper.
Pasta with sweet potatoes for dinner, whip up sweet potato pancakes for breakfast
Whip up pasta with sweet potatoes and spinach for dinner, then transform it into sweet potato pancakes the next day.
"This meal is packed with plant protein and brain-boosting beans from the chickpea pasta, antioxidant vitamin A from the sweet potatoes, and leafy greens, which are a regular part of the cognition-saving MIND diet,” says nutritionist Maggie Moon, MS, and author of The MIND Diet.
To make the pasta, preheat the oven to 450F, wash and dry all produce, and dice a sweet potato or two, Moon says. Next, "quarter a lemon and thinly slice, removing seeds along the way."
Toss the sweet potatoes and lemon in olive oil, salt, and pepper and roast for about half an hour, or until potatoes are fork-tender. Next, make the pasta in salted water (cook a couple minutes shy of what the directions indicate) and save a cup of the pasta water, rinse, and drain the rest, setting it aside.
Brown lean ground turkey in a skillet over medium heat, then drain and set aside. Make the sauce with about a cup of vegetable broth, half a cup of pasta water, and a few spoonfuls of goat cheese until it reaches your desired consistency.
"If it needs to be creamier, add more cheese; if it needs to be thinned out, add more pasta water," says Moon. "Add the pasta back in along with a few handfuls of baby spinach and stir until pasta is warmed through and spinach is wilted, a few minutes. Fold in the roasted sweet potatoes and season to taste." Finally, garnish with roasted lemon and parsley on top.
For the pancakes, "whisk two eggs together until well-blended and in a large bowl, mash the leftovers a little to break them down, then add a little egg at a time until coated and starting to bind,” Moon says. “Heat a little olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Meanwhile, make three to- four-inch patties from the leftovers."
Heat thoroughly, two to three minutes per side. Drain on a paper towel-lined plate and season immediately. Repeat until the leftovers are all gone, and then serve it with Greek yogurt on top.
"This warm and comforting breakfast feels indulgently satisfying, and will nourish you for a great day ahead," Moon says. "The brain is an antioxidant hog, which is why it loves the olive oil, sweet potatoes, and leafy greens in this dish." Also good: Ground turkey provides lean protein to help maintain even blood sugar levels through lunch.
Roasted oven fries at dinner, stack inside breakfast burritos the next day
Take your side dish of roasted oven fries from dinner and use them to create a nutritious, filling breakfast that you’ll actually crave in the morning. "Roasted oven fries are a delectable side dish for a healthy weeknight dinner, and I always make extra so there are leftovers for breakfast," says Connecticut-based nutritionist Dana Angelo White, MS.
Here’s how to use them: "Just chop and reheat in a nonstick skillet along with some eggs, spinach, and cheese for an omelet, or roll a few fries into breakfast burritos with eggs, salsa, black beans and avocado," White says. The healthy carbs and fiber that potatoes provide make breakfast extra satisfying, and the high potassium content can also improve hydration and give you more energy.
To make, you’ll need 6 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper. Preheat oven to 400F, line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and set aside. Scrub potatoes, then cut them into even-sized fries. Transfer to the baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, tossing once or twice, until crisp and golden brown.