You spend hours preparing a delicious Thanksgiving meal for your family or friends, and after the festivities, you may find yourself with a fridge full of leftovers and wondering what to do with all that extra food.
According to the US Department of Agriculture, the average American family throws away about 1,600 pounds of uneaten food each year, for a total of about $ 1,500. And, unfortunately, food waste during the holidays can be a big deal.
Reheated leftovers are great, but the turkey gets drier each day and repeated meals can get dull. The best way to get the most out of your Thanksgiving leftovers is to get creative – homemade sandwiches, salads, soups, and even pancakes are all possibilities.
While there’s no right or wrong way to enjoy Thanksgiving leftovers, it’s best to consume them within three to four days. And be sure to store it in airtight containers in the refrigerator to preserve its freshness. For longer storage, freezing leftovers can be good for two to three months.
Below are some recipe ideas for getting the most out of your Thanksgiving leftovers.
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- 2 cups of sliced celery
- 2 cups of chopped carrots
- 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 2 cups grated cooked turkey
- 1 cup of rinsed barley (or rice)
- 12 cups homemade turkey broth: 32 oz turkey or chicken broth
To note: Whether you are cooking with rice or barley, you should take the time to rinse them before using them. Add the rice to a fine mesh colander and run cold water over it, stirring it a bit with your fingers for a thorough rinse.
The preparation time is 30 minutes and the cooking time is four hours. It makes up to eight servings.
- In a large slow cooker, combine the onion, celery, carrots, parsley, turkey, barley and turkey broth. Mix well. Cover and cook over low heat for 6-7 hours over high heat for 4 hours.
- Serve hot. Garnish with additional parsley (or spinach!) If desired.
A comforting recipe, with the possibility of adding more vegetables (leftovers).
FOR THE BUTTERNUT SQUASH SALAD:
- 1/2 small red onion diced (about 1/4 cup)
- 1 small 2-pound butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 3/4-inch pieces (about 3 1/2 cups)
- 2 teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 tablespoon of maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon of kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
- 1 1/2 cups sodium-reduced chicken or vegetable broth or water
- 3/4 cup uncooked quinoa
- 1/2 cup reduced-sugar dried cranberries
- 1/2 cup toasted nuggets, pumpkin seeds or coarsely chopped toasted nuts or pecans
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme or 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
To note: Adding a little maple syrup to butternut squash before roasting gives it a little more flavor.
FOR THE DRESSING:
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar
- 2 teaspoons of Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon of maple syrup
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Preparation time is approximately 15 minutes, cooking time is estimated at 30 minutes. The salad will keep in the refrigerator for up to three days.
- Place a rack in the center of your oven and preheat the oven to 400 F. Place the red onion in a small bowl and cover with water. Put aside.
- Place butternut squash in the center of a large rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and maple syrup, then sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper. Toss to evenly coat, then spread the squash in a single layer. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, turning once, until tender. Remove from the oven and set aside.
- While the squash is cooking, bring the broth (or water) and quinoa to a boil in a medium pot. If you are using water, add 1/4 teaspoon of kosher salt. Once boiling, lower the heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes, until the water is absorbed. Remove from heat and let stand with the lid on for 5 minutes, then transfer to a large serving bowl.
- In a small bowl or large measuring cup, combine the dressing ingredients: olive oil, vinegar, mustard, maple syrup, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper. Pour enough dressing over the hot quinoa to moisten it, then toss to combine.
- Scrape the roasted butternut squash and pan juices into the bowl with the quinoa. Add the cranberries, nuggets and thyme. Drain the red onion then add it to the bowl. Toss to combine, adding more dressing as desired. Serve warm (or cold!)
- To note: No butternut squash? Try swapping out the leftover diced and cubed sweet potatoes. Adding additional vegetables such as Brussels sprouts, kale, and spinach also works.
If you want to come home with your favorite Thanksgiving meal and aren’t sure whether to take it or not, here are some TSA tips for getting past security.
Use them to make sandwiches, serve as another savory side dish or as a delicious snack on their own.
- Your leftover mashed potatoes
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1/2 cup of parmesan
- 1/4 cup grated mozzarella
- 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley, plus more for garnish
- Frying oil
- Milk, if needed (can be non-dairy or dairy)
- Sour cream (optional)
- Ground pepper
The preparation time is 15 minutes, and the cooking time is about the same. The recipe makes about six servings.
- In a bowl, mix all the ingredients well. If it is too dry, adjust the consistency with a little milk.
- Heat a pan over medium-high heat and add a few tablespoons of oil.
- Pour 1/4 cup of batter into hot pan; brown on both sides.
- Garnish with a little parsley and garnish with sour cream, if desired.
Leftover stuffing is made into two-bite snacks, then served with cranberry pesto.
- Leftover stuffing
- 2 eggs
- Frying oil
- 2 teaspoons of milk
- 1 cup of seasoned breadcrumbs
- 1 cup of cranberry sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup walnuts
Preparation time is 10 minutes, cooking time is estimated at four minutes. The meal cooks up to four to six servings.
- Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add a few tablespoons of oil.
- Cut leftover stuffing into bite-sized cubes and set aside. In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs and milk. Coat each bite of the stuffing with this egg wash, then coat with breadcrumbs until completely coated and set aside.
- In a food processor, combine the cranberry sauce, pepper and nuts and set aside.
- Once the oil is at the desired temperature, fry each piece of stuffing until golden brown, about 4 minutes. Drain on paper towels and serve with cranberry pesto.
Pumpkin pie pancakes are best served with a sweet jam or (leftover!) Cranberry sauce.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons of sugar
- 2 teaspoons of yeast
- 1 teaspoon of pumpkin spice
- 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt
- 1 large egg
- 3 tablespoons of melted and cooled butter (can use non-butter substitutes)
- 2 cups of milk (non-dairy or dairy)
- 2 pieces of pumpkin pie
- 2-3 tablespoons of butter for the pan
This recipe makes about 12 to 16 pancakes. Preparation time is 15 minutes, and cooking time is approximately 20 minutes.
- Combine the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder, pumpkin spice, baking soda and salt) in a large bowl.
- In a separate bowl, combine the wet ingredients (egg, butter and milk).
- Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl of dry ingredients along with the remaining pieces of pumpkin pie. Mix until just combined.
- Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of butter to the pan. Using 1/4 cup of batter per pancake, add it to the pan. Cook one side for about 2 minutes, then flip the pancake to cook another 2 minutes. Add fresh butter to the pan for each batch.