Food Piles Made Easy

by Kim on February 15, 2013

There are sooo many things the healthy living blog community has taught me, like how to run on turd-covered horse trails, how to deal with strange ladies you encounter while out walking, and how to make chocolate oreo cookie pancakes (!!).

Also, ya know, how to work out and eat right and stuff.

But one of the things I’ve appreciated most as of late is my introduction to what I call Food Piles.

Aka: how to recycle dinner leftovers into easy, healthy lunches the next day.

Lots of my favorite bloggers are pros at this. At first, I’d try to memorize all the combos they’d come up with, doodling little ingredient lists all over the notebook I keep next to my computer.

But, eventually, I realized that the specific foods didn’t really matter. Everyone was essentially just using the same basic formula:

Food Pile

If you prep grains and veggies over the weekend for use during the week, this becomes a cinch. All you have to do is save some protein from dinner (we’re huge carnivores around here, so we usually have some leftover chicken, tofu, or beef), toss it onto a plate the next day with a random mix of the grains and veggies, and drizzle on some kind of sauce (or seasoning).

Boom: healthy lunch.

Here are some great examples of Food Piles I’ve seen around the blogosphere…

Caitlin @ Healthy Tipping Point combined:

Tempeh, quinoa, sweet potato, onions, and kale

food pile 1

Brown rice, black beans, greens, and salad cream dressing

food pile 2

Emily @ Daily Garnish combined:

Brown rice, roasted sweet potato, browned broccoli and cauliflower, and miso-tahini sauce

food pile 3 Emily’s words: “Looks like slop, tastes like heaven.”

Quinoa and lentils with roasted sweet potato, diced avocado, and marinated mushrooms  (sometimes, the protein source doubles as the grain…or technically, in this case, seed)

Food pile 9

Lindsay @ the Lean Green Bean combined:

–(Top left) Sweet and Spicy Tofu over quinoa with veggies, lentils and black beans

–(Top right) Beans, peppers and onions, sauteed, plus quinoa, and topped with a scrambled egg and salsa

–(Bottom left) Wheatberries, black beans, lentils, peppers & onions, topped with roasted sweet potatoes, tomato, avocado and cheese

–(Bottom right) Stir fry veggies, leftover veggie burger with cottage cheese, and some tofu

Lindsay's Food Piles

By the way, you can find LOTS more meal ideas from Lindsay in her Weekly Eats series. (It’s awesome!)

And here are a few of my own recent creations…

(Disclaimer: I’m not a food blogger. And I’m definitely no expert at photographing food—it’s hard! I also don’t have fun dishes to display things on, so our everyday plates from Target will have to do. Ha!)

–Brown rice, pan-cooked tofu (from a stir fry the night before), carrots and broccoli (from one of those Steamfresh frozen bags), and Newman’s Own lite honey mustard dressing


–Rice & orzo pilaf from TJ’s (so good!!), spinach, green beans and red peppers (from another Steamfresh!), and leftover marinated baked chicken breast, drizzled with balsamic


–Brown rice, peas, more pan-cooked tofu, and Trader Joe’s light champagne vinaigrette dressing (best sauce EVERRR)

IMG_2608(Oops, burned the tofu a little that time)

I know my creations pale in comparison to what you just saw above, but that’s kinda the point. I wanted to show you some of my simplified Food Piles in case you, like me, are intimidated by the awesomeness of the other pictures.

Even I can do this! And therefore, so can you!

Do you ever make food piles? What’s your favorite combo?


And now, it’s time to announce the lucky…


The winner of the $40 lululemon gift card is: Sarah!

Lulu winning number

Lulu winner

The winner of the chocolate goodie basket is: Nicole!

Basket winning number

Basket winner

Congrats, ladies!! Please send me your info (full name/mailing address) at healthynestkim [at] gmail [dot] com so I can get your prizes on their way!

If I don’t hear from the winners by the end of the day Monday (2/18), I’ll randomly select someone else.

Thank you all so much for entering!!


{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

mika February 18, 2013 at 9:37 pm

I love left over foods! I don’t throw them but i recycled them in the morning so that I won’t be wasteful. Meat are chopped fine.together with peas, carrots,onions then they are added to rice with scramble egg mix together. Save money on food while avoiding throwing them in rubbish bins.


Sarah February 18, 2013 at 2:34 pm

WOW! Thanks, Kim! I am so excited I won the gift card to Lulu!!:) I sent you an e-mail but let me know if you did not receive it.

Thanks again!


Lisa @ Lisa the Vegetarian February 17, 2013 at 10:36 am

Love the idea of a food pile! That really is the formula to keep in mind while preparing food. I’ll have to keep that in mind!
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Courtney @ Star Systemz February 16, 2013 at 9:54 pm

So true :-). This is what I do every Sunday or Monday depending on when I have time to run to the store, I just make vegetables +protein and either quinoa or brown rice and I’m ready for all kinds of meals throughout the week. You have to try trader joes green thai curry sauce! All you need is protein brown rice and some vegetables and you just let the sauce simmer! So much flavor :-) love + shine Courtstar
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Lindsay @ The Lean Green Bean February 16, 2013 at 8:59 pm

thanks for the shoutout girl! your food piles look great :)
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Angela @ The Chicken Scoop February 15, 2013 at 5:55 pm

Haha I like that “food piling”. I try to do it and sometimes it works and sometimes its really bad. My problem is I don’t keep sauces in the house but I got a whole book of sauce recipes for Christmas. I need to work on that!!
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Jessica @ Prayers and Apples February 15, 2013 at 4:55 pm

This is such a good idea! I don’t follow a lot of the food sites (I tend to OD on the exercise and psychology ones lol) so this was super helpful for me! :) My food piles can get pretty strange… the other night I mixed some clean-eating-chicken-salad with quinoa and a side of unsweetened applesauce. it was interesting. LOL
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Kim February 15, 2013 at 5:37 pm

Sounds pretty awesome to me! :)


Giselle@myhealthyhappyhome February 15, 2013 at 2:17 pm

Love Food Piles! My favorites are ones that include sweet potatoes, veggies and goat cheese. I tend to be a snacker for lunch. A little of this, a little of that… I guess they could be called “snack plates” :-)
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Kim February 15, 2013 at 5:37 pm

Totally agree about sweet potatoes, veggies, and goat cheese! Great picks!


Nicole @ Fruit 'N' Fitness February 15, 2013 at 11:36 am

Was reading this post thinking of how I have learned to throw random things together for a filling meal since starting to read blogs. Then, I saw the giveaway winners! So excited!!
Nicole @ Fruit ‘N’ Fitness recently posted…Banana PancakesMy Profile


Kim February 15, 2013 at 12:01 pm

Yaay! You’ll have to let me know how the chocolate is. :)


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