10 Tips for Using Holiday Leftovers

A feast is always one of the highlights of the holiday season. We go all out planning, cooking, and yes, eating the feast. But when it’s all done and the table has been cleared, what do we do with all that leftover food? Here are some great ideas and a few recipes from Build A Menu.

  1. Make sure you have plenty of storage containers and zip lock freezer baggies before the big day. Freezer bags are your best choice. Make sure when freezing leftovers that you squeeze as much of the air out of the bag as possible.
  2. Make sure you freeze the leftovers within 3 days of cooking.
  3. Did you know you can re-heat frozen pie in a 350 degree oven while still frozen for about 20-25 minutes? You can.
  4. Freeze in small portions for quicker defrost. Don’t try to freeze all that dressing in one large bag. Instead, freeze it in smaller bags to use and it will defrost much faster and easier.
  5. Cool food completely before freezing. You can start cooling the food on the counter, and then finish it in the refrigerator before freezing.
  6. If you know you are going to have leftovers (and who doesn’t) then plan a menu for the few days after around the leftovers.
  7. Write down somewhere what you have added in the way of leftovers to your freezer and plan on using it within the next couple of months.
  8. Think quiches, wraps, tacos, omelets, scrambled eggs with diced up turkey or ham in it. These can be for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Who doesn’t love breakfast for dinner?
  9. Send some home. You might have lots of leftovers but your guests probably don’t. Plan on having some storage containers that you can put some leftovers in and send them home with guest/family.
  10. Take a plate or two to shut-ins. Do you know someone who can’t get out this holiday? Plan on taking them a plate before or after the meal. Maybe send them enough to make a couple of meals for themselves.

Here are some recipes that are great for using up some of those leftovers.

Turkey MinestroneCrunchy Turkey Bake/
Yellow Squash and Ham Soup/
Tiny Taters/

Do you have any favorite recipes you use to use up those leftovers? Feel free to share with us!

Published on: November 20, 2013
About the Author
Photo of Lisa Holcomb

Lisa is co-founder of Build A Menu, an online menu planning website that helps families get their grocery bill under control and helps them to bring “dinner back to the table”. She is an advocate for family meal time, an author, and a public speaker.

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