How to Deal with Thanksgiving Leftovers--The Semi-Dreaded Gift That Keeps on Giving
What the hell am I supposed to do with all these leftovers?
It’s the question heard around the world the day after Thanksgiving. Why? Because once Thanksgiving is over, you can count on two things: One, a food coma from stuffing yourself silly. Two, leftovers. Lots of 'em.
Like many, I can tolerate eating turkey and a few sides again the next day, especially to fuel up for Black Friday shopping. But by Saturday, I’m already over the turkey sandwiches. I’ve tried putting any and everything between two slices of bread to make it more interesting. You name it, from a combination of turkey, cranberries, and mac and cheese to a grilled cheese and green bean sandwich. If you can think of it, I’ve made it. I If you have more than a couple turkey days under your belt, surely, you can understand my frustration with the never-ending leftovers Thanksgiving inevitably delivers. It's the biggest meal of the year that, sadly, produces the most uninspired day-after dishes. Leftover turkey stuffed in a sandwich? Boring. Reheated dressing and mashed potatoes? Damn near yawn-inducing.
And therein lies the rub: Thanksgiving, Part Deux. The post-dinner moment when all the in-laws and guests have cleared out of your home (phew!), with their bellies full of turkey, stuffing, and booze, and you’re left to figure out how you’re going to turn a refrigerator full of food that you labored for hours and days on into something just as magnificent and tasty as it was the day before. For all the budget conscious folks like myself, you’re probably not on board with throwing food away or spending money on extra groceries when there’s so much food already in the house. Completely valid.
So if you find yourself stuck between a rock (reinventing leftovers to make new meals) and a hard place (food waste) year after year, I might be able to help. I've been brainstorming on this very topic for a couple weeks now and I have come to believe that there just might be a few fresh rays of hope when it comes to making the most of already-purchased ingredients and leftover Thanksgiving grub through Sunday. Simple and satisfying day-after Thanksgiving recipes making appetizing use of all those leftovers coming right up.
We've already discussed how leftover turkey sandwiches are expected and full-on amateur hour. If you're dealing with numerous relatives still in your house the day after Thanksgiving, a no-fuss turkey soup or Roast Turkey Pho are perfect for feeding the crowd who didn't get the hint the dinner invitation was only for one day. Just kidding. Sort of.
And there's nothing like eating a light and fresh Asian-inspired turkey stir-fry dinner the next day to cure a holiday food hangover.
Good news: You already have most of the necessary ingredients on hand to make this crowd-pleasing , super comforting turkey casserole, which includes cooked turkey, mushrooms, turkey gravy, sage, and cranberry sauce. Dig in, folks.
Let your Stove Top Stuffing mix shine for brunch on Saturday or Sunday morning in this cheesy casserole.
Looking for a quick and easy way to use up stuffing in more manageable portions? These bite-sized muffins highlighting stuffing and eggs as the key ingredients are great for popping in the toaster the next morning.
3. Sweet Potatoes
Who knew? Leftover sweet potatoes can work for breakfast, too. Of course, you probably know that you can repurpose sweet potatoes as an alternative pizza or pie crust, but you can also use mashed sweet potatoes to make these two-ingredient sweet potato pancakes from our sister brand, Cooking Light, the next morning for a company-worthy, rise-and-shine surprise.
Fortunately for us, sweet potatoes work as a main component in several kick-ass recipes. When you grow tired of sweet potato pancakes or pie, try using cubed sweet potatoes in a tasty hash for breakfast.
Not a morning or dessert person? Turn your sweet potatoes into a more dinner-appropriate hash. This one has the perfect level of spicy personality and is loaded up on the veggies.
4. Biscuits and Dinner Rolls
Want more inspiration for what to do with too many leftover rolls? Make breadcrumbs, bread pudding, or even French toast. As far as those fluffy and buttery biscuits, use them up in a classic sweet cobbler.
For a more savory twist, you could also go with something like this Biscuit-Topped Chicken Potpie.
5. Cranberry Sauce
Cranberry sauce--the one condiment we kind of despise in the can and can't seem to get rid of after Thanksgiving. You can use it as a spread or thin it out to make a vinaigrette to elevate sandwiches and salads for lunch. But we love it as a sauce to drizzle over pancakes or to spoon into yogurt or oatmeal for breakfast, too.
6. Mashed Potatoes
No Thanksgiving meal is complete without a side of creamy mashed potatoes. Instead of storing those spuds as-is in the fridge, deliver a wake-up call to your taste buds with these crispy mashed potato cakes. These crisp little tater cakes are made all the more delicious with a cast-iron skillet. If you're still feeling soupy, you could also use your mashed potatoes as the base for this creamy and comforting Herbed Parmesan Potato Soup.
There you have it, an array of different and delicious ways to use up Thanksgiving leftovers. Take it all in and enjoy, knowing you'll have a whole month to breathe before you have to do it all over again for Christmas.