Thanksgiving is only 2 days away (yay!), so chances are you probably already have your pretty much menu set in stone. But, have you given any thought to how you’re going to use those leftovers in the days that follow?
It’s estimated that Americans throw away an average of $277 million worth of food EVERY THANKSGIVING! I don’t know about you, but that is one statistic that I do not want to be a part of.
So, today I’m sharing some of my favorite ways to incorporate Thanksgiving leftovers into any (or all!) of your post-Thanksgiving meals. And, to top it all off, I’ve also thrown in a few delicious recipes from fellow RD bloggers to get you started.
Of course, this is by no means meant to be a comprehensive or exclusive list. Rather, this is just meant to help you to start thinking outside of the box when it comes to using up Thanksgiving leftovers. Don’t be afraid to get creative in the kitchen and try new things – that’s half the fun!
I hope you leave feeling inspired (and hungry)!
It’s hard to believe that over 200 million pounds of turkey ends up in the trash every year.. especially when it’s so easy to incorporate leftovers into your post-Thanksgiving meals. Simply slice, chop, or shred and use in place of chicken in your favorite recipes. The uses for leftover turkey are virtually endless, but I’ve included a few ideas here to spark your creativity..
– Add leftover turkey to your favorite homemade soup recipe
– Incorporate into casseroles, pot pies, pasta dishes, and quesadillas
– Stuff between two slices of bread for a delicious sandwich or panini
– Toss with mayo or Greek yogurt for a festive spin on chicken salad
– Shred and use as a topping for salads or pizzas
– Mix with gravy and serve over biscuits (one of my family’s personal favorites!)
Sweet potato casserole is one of my favorite Thanksgiving sides and I make sure that I never let a bite go to waste! As a general rule of thumb, you can typically use sweet potato casserole (or simply mashed sweet potato) in place of pumpkin puree in a recipe.
– Stir into oatmeal or yogurt
– Blend into a smoothie
– Bake into quick breads or muffins
– Mix into pancake or waffle batter
I’ll be the first to admit that mashed potatoes are often less-than-stellar when reheated. But, no need to force yourself to choke down overly dry spuds when you can turn them into something delicious..
– Whip up a batch of Ricotta Mashed Potato Gnocchi
– Turn your mashed potatoes into potato pancakes
– Make a homemade shepherd’s pie using leftover mashed potatoes as the topping
– Blend into a creamy soup or chowder
I admittedly could (and usually do) eat leftover stuffing for nearly every meal in the days following Thanksgiving. I find that reheated stuffing is great as is, but if you need a little help finishing up those leftovers, here are a few ideas..
– Mix with eggs and milk (or chicken broth) and bake in muffin tins
– Pour into a waffle iron for savory waffles
– Use as a “stuffing” for veggies, such as peppers or squash
Whether you make your own or pour from a can is up to you. But be sure to make (or buy) plenty so that you can incorporate these seasonal berries for days to come!
– Use as a condiment or sandwich spread (you can also mix with mayo for a cranberry aioli!)
– Serve with cheese and crackers for an easy appetizer or snack
– Substitute in place of jelly on a PB&J or toast
– Stir into oatmeal or yogurt
– Blend into a smoothie
Personally, I find that leftover veggies are usually the first thing gone because they’re just so darn easy to use up. How you choose to use them will likely depend on what types of veggies you have on hand, but here are a few of my favorite ways to incorporate leftover roasted veggies into meals…
– Mix into an omelet or frittata
– Use as the base for a breakfast hash
– Add roasted veggies to a salad
– Mix into casseroles or soups
– Add to a sandwich or wrap
My family inevitably ALWAYS has plenty of dinner rolls leftover (mostly because we usually forget to serve them with the Thanksgiving meal!) Here are a few ways to make sure that they don’t go to waste..
– Cut into cubes, toss with oil and seasonings, and bake into homemade croutons
– Slice in half and use as a “bun” for sandwiches or sliders
– Use in baked french toast or an egg strata
Overwhelmed by all the Thanksgiving leftovers possibilities? No worries. I’ve rounded up 10 delicious recipes from fellow dietitians to get you started!
Turkey and Wild Rice Soup via Lively Table (I made this last year and loved it!)
Thanksgiving Leftovers Pulled Turkey Sandwich via C It Nutritionally
Turkey Rice Casserole via Create Kids Club
Turkey Enchilada Bake via Hungry Hobby
Turkey & Stuffing Waffle via 360 Family Nutrition
Holiday Leftovers Whole Grain Pizza via The Gourmet RD
Thanksgiving Leftovers Potato Pancakes via Nutritious Eats
Thanksgiving Breakfast Frittata via The Foodie Dietitian
Veggie Pot Pie via Sharon Palmer, RD
Healthy Chocolate Truffles via Food, Pleasure, & Health
And… last but not least, when all else fails, throw it all in between two slices of bread for a “Thanksgiving” sandwich! My favorite sandwich combo includes turkey, cranberry sauce, stuffing, and cheese grilled up on the stove or a panini press. Don’t knock it ’till you’ve tried it!
Note: In general, most leftovers should be consumed within 3-4 days. Keep this in mind when you’re preparing large batches of recipes using leftovers. It’s best to make these recipes as quickly as possible so that leftovers can be consumed within the recommended timeframe. Many leftovers also freeze well; again, try to freeze leftovers within a day or so of cooking, as they’ll likely sit in your fridge for a few days after you defrost them.
What are your favorite ways to repurpose Thanksgiving leftovers?
Let me know in the comments below!
Looking for more Thanksgiving leftover inspiration?
Be sure to follow along on Instagram, where I’ll be sharing some of my favorite post-Thanksgiving meals!