Healthy Ways to Use Thanksgiving Leftovers
Thanksgiving is over, so now what? If you are not a fan of leftovers I hope you either gave them to your guests or left them with the host, because, food waste! I am notorious for being able to construct full balanced meals with food scraps, but it is not a “gift”, I’ve just gotten very creative and comfortable with experimenting in the kitchen. And you can too! I put together a list of ideas on how to repurpose and reuse our delicious Thanksgiving scraps in creative and healthy ways.
Whether it is surplus from the celery, onion, and garlic you used in the stuffing or leftovers from the appetizer tray you can use them.
- Dice it: use when you’re making lentils, beans, or grains from scratch. It gives the dish great flavor and a nutrient boost
- Crockpot dishes: keep as is and use to make soups, stews, and curries
- Snacks: cut into bite-sized pieces, add dip, and you’ve got a snack for the week
- Future dishes: dice it all and keep in air-tight container in the freezer for future recipes
Vegetable stems, bits and ends
A lot of vegetable scraps go in the trash (carrot tops, leafy section of fennel, celery hearts, onion ends, etc.) but there are other options. If you do not have access to composting you can still use those scraps.
- Vegetable broth: put all scraps in a closed container in the freezer, once it is full you can make your own broth
- Pesto: replace basil leaves with carrot tops to make a pesto sauce
- Aromatics: use citrus peels and herbs to make your kitchen or home smell delicious
Squash, brussel sprouts, sweet potatoes, beets, or whatever vegetables you roasted can be used in future dishes as a quick way to boost the fiber and nutritional content.
- Egg dishes: scrambled, frittatas, egg muffin cups
- On salads
- Grain bowls: add protein and fat too to make a complete meal
- Pasta dishes: lasagna, noodles, casseroles
*If you usually steam vegetables instead of roast, the leftovers can be stored in the freezer and used to add to smoothies and smoothie bowls as a vegetable boost and a natural thickener. My personal favorites are spinach, zucchini, beets, cauliflower florets, and broccoli stalks.
Grains and potatoes
This may vary depending on if sauces, dressings or gravies were already mixed in or not.
- As base options in your future meals
- Burritos: there are many recipes for make-ahead burritos that are freezer-friendly and wrapped individually to make “fast food” for the future
- Soups and stews
Based primarily on turkey.
- Bones: use to make bone broth or stock
- Wraps or burritos: for the freezer or to eat within a few days
- Soups and stews
- As a protein option in your future meals
- Pumpkin puree: can freeze into ice cubes and use to thicken smoothies or use to dollop onto yogurt or oatmeal as a vitamin and fiber boost
- Cranberry sauce: as a spread on sandwiches/wraps or use to dollop onto yogurt or oatmeal as a flavor and fruit boost
- Casseroles (green beans, creamed onions/mushrooms): use as a side dish or as salad toppers
I would love to hear how you and your family use your Thanksgiving leftovers, comment below and let me know. Happy eating!