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The List: 6 Ways To Enjoy Thanksgiving Leftovers 5

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Roughly $293 million worth of turkey alone is wasted on Thanksgiving in 2016. Help fix the problem with these delicious leftovers recipes.

The turkey has been carved, the guests have gone home, and the dishes are (hopefully!) done. If you followed some of our suggestions for a greener Thanksgiving, you’re probably looking at the leftovers crowding your fridge and wondering how you can possibly consume all of those.

Never fear! I’ve gathered up my favorite ways to optimize holiday leftovers so that you can be sure that you’ll eat up every last morsel well before you get bored with them.

1. If you have bread or rolls make a strata or French toast casserole. Both of these recipes use stale bread. A master strata recipe can be used with a variety of ingredients, so you might also be able to use remnants from your cheese tray or a side dish. French toast casserole, similarly, is a sweet version. If you have leftover pecans from making pie, or canned pumpkin from pumpkin pie, stir it right into the custard.

2. If you have extra roast vegetables like broccoli or roasted carrots, make a whole-grain salad or side dish. Cook up barley, farro, brown rice, or quinoa, chop the vegetables into bite-sized pieces, and toss them together with the grains and a maple or apple cider vinaigrette.

3. If you have mashed potatoes make potato soup or mashed potato cakes. Potato soup is perfect for a chilly winter’s night, and mashed potato cakes are a good base for a heap of sautéed greens and a fried egg.

4. If you have turkey, think outside the box. Most people gravitate to pot pie or turkey sandwiches. But turkey is just as versatile a meat as chicken. Try turkey curry, an interesting turkey pizza or, if you just really want your turkey in sandwich form, choose one with unusual flavor combinations.

5. If you have green bean casserole, make green bean quiche. My mother-in-law complains that everyone says Thanksgiving wouldn’t be the same without green bean casserole, but it’s usually the biggest quantity of leftovers. Luckily, that combination of green beans, creamy sauce, and crisp onions go great in a quiche.

6. If you have pie, consider yourself lucky! It’s one thing that’s not hard to get rid of. But, if you really are getting tired of slices of pumpkin or pecan pie, consider chopping it into bite-sized pieces and freezing them on a parchment-lined baking sheet. When they’re frozen, you can transfer the chunks to a zip-top freezer bag for storage, and use them as an ice cream topping.

With more than $293 million worth of food wasted during the Thanksgiving holiday, getting clever with leftovers can help you make more great meals, while keeping food waste out of the landfill.

And remember: Compost any food scraps you end up with!


What is your favorite way to use up Thanksgiving leftovers? Share your recipe ideas in the comments.

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About the Author
Jessica Harlan
Jessica Harlan

I love finding new ways to green my family's life as painlessly as possible, and sharing those ideas with folks who want to do the same.

  • Diane M. 7 months ago
    We bought a prepared turkey dinner from our local market, and tonight we had our fourth meal of turkey soup. We still have more to consume. It's just our husband and me, but we've had at least four turkey dinners, turkey sandwiches, and the above-mentioned turkey soup. That's ten meals for two, at $60 for the purchased meal, and we still have more meals to come. Not bad!
  • Susie S. 7 months ago
    We feed our dogs Turkey or Chicken . so we ground it up with some carrots and potatoes and made many meals for the freezer from Thanksgiving Dinner Alone . No Waste ever here !!
  • Helene P. 7 months ago
    I participate in a group called Aid For Friends through my church. You put meals together and label them. They are then distributed to those in need.
  • Anne W. 7 months ago
    I recycle Thanksgiving leftovers (and other leftovers throughout the year) by making my own TV dinners and freezing them. We are both invalids, and often I am not up to cooking. It's great to be able to pull our meals out of the freezer and "nuke" them. We use reusable plastic trays with lids and don't discard them until they are totally worn out. Then they go in the recycling bin.
  • Karen K. 7 months ago
    We're lucky we have any leftovers. We have 2 dogs and a man who eats like he's still a teenager!
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