Freeze or Toss? What to Do With Thanksgiving Leftovers


Freeze or Toss? What to Do With Thanksgiving Leftovers | thegoodstuff

Thanksgiving is a feast of foods as far as the eye can see — and while family and friends are always excited to dig in, it can sometimes seems like we’ve hardly made a dent when the meal is over. Yikes!

If you’re a little stumped on how to navigate the holiday leftover scene — save endless turkey sandwiches, of course — I’ve got some ideas for what to do with Thanksgiving leftovers from Lauren Popeck, a dietitian at Orlando Health Physician Group. Bonus? She says that with a little creativity, you don’t have to toss anything.

Still overwhelmed by your Turkey Day leftovers? We can help! Check out these tips for storing your Thanksgiving leftovers, plus 11 tasty recipes that put those leftovers to good use.

What to do with leftover turkey

Freeze or Toss? What to Do With Thanksgiving Leftovers | thegoodstuff

This Thanksgiving mainstay can be frozen or eaten right away, according to Popeck. “Within 3 to 4 days, use turkey meat for sandwiches, tacos, or to top salads,” she says. “You can also use leftover turkey to make soup or stew, which can be frozen for 4-6 months — my favorite is turkey and white bean pumpkin chili.”

Check out a similar and just as delicious skinny turkey and wild rice soup recipe here (number 2)!

How to store mashed potatoes

Freeze or Toss? What to Do With Thanksgiving Leftovers | thegoodstuff

You can store mashed potatoes in the fridge and reheat for several days, but you can also use this turkey day classic in a slightly less conventional sense.

“Use the potatoes to add body and thickness when blended into turkey soup” if you want a more substantial meal, says Popeck.

How to keep leftover sweet potatoes or pumpkin pie

Freeze or Toss? What to Do With Thanksgiving Leftovers | thegoodstuff

With their sweet taste and similar consistency, leftover sweet potato casserole or pumpkin pie filling (minus the crust) can be used in some of the same dishes after Thanksgiving.

“There are a variety of breakfast possibilities,” Popeck says. “You can add into pancake or waffle batter, blend into a smoothies, stir into oatmeal, or bake into muffins. As a time saving bonus, make a double or triple batch of pancakes, waffles, and muffins, then freeze for up to three months.”  Popeck says these goodies are great to pop in a toaster on a busy morning.

What to do with leftover cranberries   

Freeze or Toss? What to Do With Thanksgiving Leftovers | thegoodstuff

Use classic cranberries to add seasonal flair to healthy go-tos. “Use cranberry sauce as a mix-in for plain Greek yogurt, plus a sprinkling of chopped walnuts for a healthy breakfast or snack option,” she says.

You can also use cranberry sauce to make a homemade vinaigrette dressing. Simply puree the cranberry sauce with vinegar and olive oil in a blender.” This should keep in the fridge for about one week.

How to freeze stuffing

Freeze or Toss? What to Do With Thanksgiving Leftovers | thegoodstuff

Don’t toss stuffing! Pack this Thanksgiving standby into your freezer, and use for future meals within three months, says Popeck.

“For a quick vegetarian meal, thaw your frozen stuffing and add to Portobello mushroom caps or stuff into zucchini boats,” she suggests. “You can sprinkle with a little cheese and bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes until bubbly and brown.” Yum, right?

How to store leftover green beans

Freeze or Toss? What to Do With Thanksgiving Leftovers | thegoodstuff

Although green beans are one healthy, fiber-filled and nutrient-packed dish, diners will likely be distracted by the other casseroles on your Thanksgiving table. Good thing this veggie can be can be repurposed as a delicious dip, says Popeck.

“Just reheat the casserole, and then puree in food processor,” she instructs. “Serve warm with raw veggie sticks such as carrots, celery, or bell peppers.”

What to do with leftover dinner rolls  

Freeze or Toss? What to Do With Thanksgiving Leftovers | thegoodstuff

Before you toss those extra dinner rolls, hold up. This side can actually be frozen safely for up to three months, according to Popeck. She suggests making simple homemade croutons from the leftovers.

“Whole-wheat rolls are best,” she explains. “Toss cubed rolls with olive oil, herbs and spices, and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until crispy.” Enjoy!


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