The struggle is real you guys. Thanksgiving is the beginning of the major leftover season. And by the time you finally get rid of all of the Thanksgiving leftovers, Christmas comes and you have even more. For some reason, when it comes to holiday meals we think that we have to feed 5,000 people even if there are only 7 or 8. And if there are more than that? Might as well feed a stadium full of people.
Now don’t get me wrong, I love leftovers. I am the queen of leftovers. Leftovers are the only way that my husband gets lunch during the week. Leftovers are the only thing that feeds the both of us when I’m lazy and just want to pull something out of the freezer instead of make an entirely new meal. Leftovers are amazing.
But you can get tired of them after awhile. Especially if you’re having a turkey sandwich for the 20th day in a row.
So I thought that I would give you a few ideas of how to use up your leftovers in new and inventive ways. You don’t have to have the same meal over and over again. With these ideas, you can use up all that extra food, save money, cut down on food waste, and never get bored.
I don’t have exact recipes for these meals, but I will give you a basic outline so you can be as creative as you want with these. I’m also going to share one of my absolute favorite leftover meals, my mom’s Thanksgiving casserole. I’ve made a few changes to make it slightly healthier, but it is an awesome way to use up a lot of leftovers. The great thing about casseroles is that they are really hard to mess up, and you can pretty much add whatever you have on hand to your meal.
Turkey is the main dish, but people usually focus on all the side dishes. Which means you’re left with like 20 lbs of bird and you can only eat so many turkey sandwiches, even if you do love them like Ross Gellar.
Here are a few more ideas for your turkey:
- Dice it up into cubes or shred it and make turkey noodle soup.
- Season turkey shreds with your favorite taco seasoning and make turkey tacos or burritos.
- Cut it into long strips and put it on top of your salad.
- Make turkey salad following this recipe.
- Use cubes or shreds in your breakfast hash. Bonus points if you use leftover sweet potatoes or regular potatoes!
- Make the casserole at the end of this post!
Many people aren’t huge fans of cranberry sauce, it’s just something that has to get made for Thanksgiving. Those people haven’t tried my sauce or my mom’s cranberry relish. Either way, you probably have a good amount leftover. Try some of these ideas out:
- This might not be a super novel idea, but use a little cranberry sauce in your turkey sandwich. The nice tart bite really adds another layer to a boring turkey sandwich.
- Try adding some cranberry sauce to your morning smoothie or oatmeal.
- Use it as a topping for meatloaf or my lentil loaf. You can also add in leftover stuffing and carrots or green beans to make it a Thanksgiving loaf.
Sweet Potatoes/Mashed Potatoes
Many families have multiple potatoes at their feast, so there is usually a few containers full of leftovers. Luckily, you can try these to get a little variety out of your potatoes:
- Try making a soup out of your potatoes. For sweet potatoes, puree them with coconut milk and add in onions and garlic for a creamy soup. Or make a chowder with leftover mashed potatoes, corn, carrots, coconut milk, and any other vegetables you have on hand.
- If you have sweet potato casserole leftovers and they are on the sweeter side, add them to your smoothie or oatmeal. It adds a nice fall/creamy flavor
- Make a Thanksgiving shepherd’s pie. Combine turkey, carrots, celery, onions, some stuffing, and any seasonings you like. Put them into a pie dish and then top with mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes. Bake uncovered at 425 for 20 to 30 minutes or until the potatoes start to brown a little.
You probably have a good amount of bread left over and instead of just using them as the base of your turkey sandwich, plan ahead with a few of these ideas:
- Let rolls or other bread dry out a little and then pulse them in a blender or food processor to make breadcrumbs.
- Cut the bread into cubes and let them dry out and have homemade croutons on hand for salads.
- If your bread or rolls are just a little stale, make a french toast casserole. Cut the bread up into cubes. Mix together milk (almond, coconut, or regular), a few eggs, cinnamon, nutmeg, maple syrup, and vanilla extract. Put the bread and some leftover cranberries into a casserole dish and pour the milk/egg mixture over everything. Bake at 350 for 20 to 30 minutes until the top is slightly brown. Top with whipped cream and maple syrup.
Leftover Turkey Casserole
- 2 to 3 cups leftover stuffing or 2 packages cornbread stuffing mix
- 1/2 cup diced onions
- 1 or 2 cup turkey pieces
- 1 can cream of chicken soup or try my homemade cream of celery soup
- 1/2 cup broth or water
- optional: cranberries, potatoes (we add my mom’s shredded cheesy potato casserole)
- Preheat oven to 350. If you are using packaged stuffing, moisten it with a little oil, broth, and hot water until it is smooth but not overly soupy)
- Oil a 9 x 13 casserole dish and line the bottom with the stuffing. Mix together the cream soup and turkey pieces and layer this over the stuffing. Top with potatoes, cranberries, and if you want it a little crispy on top, some bread crumbs.
- Bake uncovered for about 45 minutes until top is nicely browned. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes before serving.
So there you have it. A plethora of leftover ideas to keep you sane and well-fed all holiday season, plus a casserole to use up the rest of your Thanksgiving meal.
Oh and as for leftover dessert? Just eat that for breakfast 🙂
What is your favorite way to use up your leftovers?