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Ten Creative Uses for Thanksgiving Leftovers

Posted by Chelsey Hegge on November 19, 2020

With gatherings being much smaller this holiday season, families are bound to have more leftovers on Thanksgiving.

On one hand you can view it as a good meal prep strategy. The food has already been cooked so you just need to package it into containers for lunches or dinners in the days following Thanksgiving. However, I also know that it can get boring to eat the same thing day after day. Typically, the holiday meal is centered on a lean protein source, turkey. This protein source is versatile and can be utilized in many other recipes.

One option for holiday leftovers is to freeze them in individual containers. Enjoying the leftovers, on a later date, is one way to prevent food waste. For example, you can scoop stuffing into lined muffin tins and freeze. Once frozen, place in a zip top bag, press out all the air and store in the freezer. You can defrost and reheat these individually portioned sides in the microwave as needed.

Since many of the traditional Thanksgiving sides may be more calorie-laden than our normal everyday recipes we can also try to incorporate them into more vegetable-centric meals for the rest of the week. This meal planning will allow us to continue to enjoy these foods in the days following Thanksgiving without feeling too full. From soups to casseroles to salads there are many creative ways to incorporate leftovers.

Here are 10 recipe ideas to utilize your Thanksgiving leftovers:

  1. One easy meal utilizing leftovers is using turkey to make sandwiches. Pair the sandwich with a side of produce and you will have a balanced meal. Check out this Cran-Apple Smoked Turkey Sliders recipe as a way to put your leftover turkey and rolls to good use!
  2. Turkey Noodle Soup - A fun twist on chicken noodle soup!
  3. Turkey Enchiladas - In this recipe you can substitute plain Greek yogurt for the sour cream for an extra protein boost!
  4. Cranberry Meatballs - A great way to put leftover cranberry sauce to good use! You can use lean ground beef or lean ground turkey in this recipe.
  5. Sweet Potato Hummus - A delicious way to utilize your leftover sweet potatoes. Serve with pita chips or fresh chopped vegetables!
  6. Brussels Sprout Hash - A delightful way to incorporate more vegetables into your breakfast. Take any of your leftover vegetable sides and turn them into a hash!
  7. Turkey and Stuffing Stuffed Peppers - Turn your leftovers in a healthier meal the next day by stuffing them in bell peppers. Fun fact: one cup of chopped red bell pepper contains nearly three times more vitamin C than an orange!
  8. Thanksgiving Leftovers Quesadilla - Another great use for your leftover turkey!
  9. Leftover Turkey Salad - A lighter take on your traditional thanksgiving leftovers!
  10. Turkey-Green Bean Shepherd’s Pie - One can never go wrong with a casserole (or hotdish if you ask us Minnesotans)!
Chelsey Hegge

Chelsey Hegge

Chelsey Hegge, RD LD, ACE-CPT has a BS in Community Medical Dietetics. She has a passion for health and enjoys assisting people in leading healthier lifestyles by focusing on creating healthy and sustainable long-term habits while incorporating a balanced diet where all foods fit in moderation. Chelsey enjoys being active through lifting weights, walking and has completed several half marathons. In her free time you will find her trying new recipes, hanging out with friends and family, and spending time outdoors.

Contact Chelsey Hegge at (507) 287-9335 ext. 355.

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