Meal Ideas for Thanksgiving Leftovers

Transform Thanksgiving holiday dinner favorites into next-week dishes.

After Thanksgiving, Americans will throw out $282 million of uneaten turkey, according to estimates from the Natural Resources Defense Council. If you find yourself with a bounty of turkey or ham left on the table after your Thanksgiving feast, don’t just toss it.

 Instead, freeze the leftovers in freezer-safe plastic bags to be used later in recipes. Mark the bags with the dates and contents and then rest easy that you are not contributing to an overabundance filling our county’s landfills after a day of giving thanks.

If you aren’t quite sure how to use that turkey or ham, head to the Internet.

Start with the Food Network and Martha Stewart, but realize that a quick search reveals an amazing number of mouth-watering recipes to get your creative juices flowing. Turkey can be substituted for chicken in many recipes so if you have a favorite chicken enchilada recipe, toss in some turkey instead.

Your family will never know the difference.

I roast a turkey mainly in anticipation of leftovers. What’s easier on a busy night of carpooling and kids activities than to toss turkey or ham into a dish that comes together in just minutes, or a recipe that can work its magic in the slow cooker as we scurry around town? Ham finds its way into fettuccine, scalloped potatoes and soup at my house.

Looking for something out of the ordinary? How about trying Indian-Spiced Turkey-Lentil Soup? My family loves fried potato pancakes made from leftover mashed potatoes. And instead of that ho-hum standby, the turkey sandwich, liven things up with the Turkey Reuben from Real Simple.

The Kansas City Star recently featured a family menu made entirely of Thanksgiving leftovers, including pumpkin and mashed potato soup.

Enjoy the holidays and don’t stress out about those leftovers. With just a few tweaks, they can make fun family meals for weeks to come.

Do you have a favorite recipe that uses Thanksgiving leftovers? Share to help those struggling under a mountain of leftovers.

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