What to do with leftovers after Thanksgiving

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by Nindo Mom on November 26, 2010

Make Something New

If you’re like me, you have plenty of leftovers after Thanksgiving dinner. And there are certainly a wide range of recipes that would work well using these delicious Thanksgiving leftovers. Most recipes calling for turkey can be modified to use turkey that’s been pre-cooked. Other recipes might use other common Thanksgiving foods–but since Turkey is the most common and usually in greatest abundance, I’ll provide a few recipe ideas for that ingredient.

  • Turkey a la king
  • Turkey spaghetti
  • Stir-fried turkey with vegetables and rice
  • Curry turkey salad sandwiches
  • Turkey wrap with lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, and avocado
  • Turkey tacos
  • Turkey stew topped with puff pastry
  • Turkey and cranberry soup (thickened with a touch of mashed potatoes)
  • Turkey and mushroom stew with rice
  • Parmesan encrusted turkey on fresh green salad

According to the USDA, leaving food too long in the temperature “danger zone” range of 40-140 degrees Fahrenheit causes bacteria to grow to possibly dangerous levels. To keep leftovers safe, put them away in the refrigerator as soon as possible after the holiday meal.

Always remove the turkey meat from the bone before refrigerating or freezing to further reduce bacteria growth. This should be done no longer than two hours after removing the turkey from the oven, Kansas State University associate professor of food safety told USA Today for an online article.

Be Generous to Your Guests

When your guests are leaving, why not pack them up some leftovers to take home? I sometimes pick up some extra Zip Lock containers for this purpose. When you share your leftovers with other dinner guests, you’ll have less leftovers requiring storage in your fridge. And that means they’ll be consumed more quickly and have less time to grow dangerous levels of bacteria. But beyond food safety, sharing the “booty” with your fellow dinner companions will help to spread good will and joy that is part of the holiday season.

Don’t Forget the Savings

With Thanksgiving over, there’s likely to be some great bargains at the grocery stores. Now is the perfect time to pick up any canned, frozen, or boxed items that you know will be needed for Christmas dinner. A few good choices, depending on your cooking plans for the upcoming holiday, might be:

Frozen items such as. . .

  • turkey
  • peas, corn, asparagus, or other vegetables
  • frozen fruit for desserts and side dishes
  • pre-made finger foods
  • desserts

Boxed and other dried items such as. . .

  • stuffing
  • gravy mixes
  • chips and pretzels
  • crackers

Canned or bottled items such as. . .

  • gravy
  • veggies
  • fruit for use in pies or cakes
  • juices

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