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What To Do With Thanksgiving Day Leftovers

Folks! I hope you had an amazing Thanksgiving Day feast with family and/or friends! If you didn’t travel you may have been responsible for the preparation of the delicious meal and now it’s time to deal with the leftovers. Of course, you could donate the food or you can preserve some of the items and get an even bigger bang for your dollar spent on this year’s get together. Naturally, I have no idea what you served, but in my home, we do a pretty traditional menu which has been passed down through the generations in my family. In this article, I’ll deal with the big ticket items. 

The Crudites
I serve a relish tray with raw vegetables and ranch dip.

The olives and pickles are usually gone but the leftovers get put in containers and get eaten by the end of the weekend. The cut up veggies get put into two containers. Some of the vegetables (carrots and celery) get saved for my children’s lunches and the rest get added to a freezer bag for stock (more on that in a moment). 

Deviled Eggs
The deviled eggs usually get eaten so I don’t have to save those. However, if Thanksgiving deviled eggs have reminded you how much you love those little devils and you wish to prepare them during the week, then I have a tip. I make deviled eggs two ways; traditional and lazy mans. In the traditional preparation, I save the last step )filling the eggs) until when I am ready to eat them. I leave the filling in a plastic bag, then on demand pipe them into the egg whites and serve. The lazy man’s version is even easier. I essentially make the deviled egg filling without the egg yoke. This way, when I am ready I peel the egg, halve it and then pipe the “dip” right on top! No heavy mixing needed! 

The Turkey
I usually prepare a 12 pound bird for my family and we have plenty of leftovers. Some of the meat gets reserved for school lunches and sandwiches. Other dishes I like to prepare with the meat include: Turkey ala King and Turkey Noodle Soup

After I remove all the meat from the carcass, I make turkey stock with the bones and the bag of frozen vegetables I have saved in the freezer. It’s easy to make stock and I then freeze the stock in usable portions. 

Mashed Potatoes
I prepare a traditional mashed potato recipe with potatoes, butter, salt, pepper, chicken stock and cream. 

With the leftovers, a dinner service portion gets frozen as I have discovered mashed potatoes can be thawed and served again.

Occasionally, I’ll reserve a portion for potato pancakes in the days after Thanksgiving. Essentially, I make a twice baked potato filling (bacon, garlic, scallion and cheddar cheese) and then fry them with eggs.   

Another portion gets spread into a sheet pan, then partially frozen. Then I cut the potatoes into one inch by two inch “sticks”. I then continue freezing them. Over the next month, I bread those and deep fry them to make potato croquettes. 

Stuffing
The stuffing is usually eaten within a week and no additional preserving is needed. 

Green Bean Casserole
Yes, I make this every year and it reminds me of my mom. This dish is also usually eaten so no additional portion is saved. 

Dinner Rolls
Some years, I simply make sandwiches out of these leftover rolls. Other years, I make croutons as a means to use all of them. Cut them into bite-sized cubes, mix with butter, garlic, parsley and salt and pepper. Bake on a sheet pan at 300 degrees until they are golden brown. They’ll keep in this state for about a week. 

Cranberries
I make traditional cranberries for Thanksgiving. Boiled in a pan with sugar. The leftovers get whipped in the food processor and I use it like a syrup for pancakes and cocktail additions. 

Again, these are the big ticket items worth preserving. Everything else either gets eaten on the day or in the days after Thanksgiving. However, for a month or so after, I always love using these leftovers and get the satisfaction of better ingredients in whatever it is I'm making and the “feel good” factor of saving a few dollars using what I already bought! Have a wonderful holiday season! 

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