10 Must-Try Leftover Thanksgiving Recipes and Ideas
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It’s that time of year again when the air is crisp, the leaves are golden, and the smell of roasted turkey fills the kitchen. Ah, yes, you guessed it – Thanksgiving is just around the corner!
This year has come and gone and we’ve already arrived at the “Super Bowl” of cooking.
It’s a day filled with gratitude, family, and, of course, epic feasting. But what’s the one thing you can count on when the tryptophan wears off? A pile of leftovers.
Many people have a lot of angst around this time of year because while we want to enjoy our favorite indulgent recipes, we don’t want our enjoyment to totally derail our healthy eating efforts.
But you don’t have to! It’s fine to enjoy and then get right back on track!
So, how do you get right back on track with all of those leftovers tempting you from inside the fridge?
I’m not one to let good food go to waste, and I’m guessing you aren’t either. That’s why I’m here to take those Thanksgiving leftovers and turn them into something so incredible that your taste buds will do a double-take AND it won’t hit your waistline like a second round of Thanksgiving!
We’re talking about taking the traditional Thanksgiving feast and giving it a healthy twist.
To get started, I’m going to serve you up some delicious tips to make the most of your leftovers and then I’ll lay out some tantalizing recipes that will leave you craving more.
Get ready to transform your Thanksgiving leftovers with these HEALTHY AND DELICIOUS leftover recipes that’ll convince you to make them all year!
Tips for Making the Most out of Recipes for Thanksgiving Leftovers
Let’s upgrade your leftover game. With these tips in your pocket, you’ll be ready to turn that Thanksgiving spread into a feast that keeps on giving.
FMC Tip #1: Plan for Leftovers
Alright, first things first, folks! When you’re in the midst of a Thanksgiving food coma, it’s easy to overlook the treasure trove of leftovers waiting for you. So, here’s the game plan: Prepare for those leftovers. Let’s be honest; it’s like a tasty encore to the main event. You’re going to want to savor every bite later. Plus, we’re all on a mission to cut down on food waste. So, pack up some reusable containers and think ahead – not only will this help you avoid food waste, but also help masterfully manage portion control.
FMC Tip #2: Freeze for Future Feasts
Don’t forget this game-changer, folks! You know I’m all about meal prepping, right? When you have an abundance of leftovers, consider freezing portions for later. This is like the ultimate meal prep hack. Foods that freeze well include turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, and even many pies. Just do a quick search to check if your items freeze well. And don’t forget to pack food tightly and securely to maintain freshness.
Freezing individual portions not only provides the convenience of quickly pulling out what you need for a speedy, satisfying meal – helping you avoid fast food temptations – but it also enables you to spread out your Thanksgiving carbs for a later date or consider other mindful approaches, such as incorporating them into balanced salads, hearty soups, or nutrient-rich bowls for future meals.
FMC Tip #3: Balancing Flavors
After the leftovers have been rescued from the fridge or freezer, it’s time for a little makeover. Think of it as a culinary touch-up. To keep your taste buds excited, make sure to balance the flavors. A pinch of this, a dash of that, and you’ve got yourself a flavor explosion. Don’t be afraid to get creative with herbs, spices, and a few magical condiments to spruce up your dishes. A thoughtful makeover using the right ingredients will work wonders, making your taste buds believe they’re savoring a whole new meal, not just yesterday’s leftovers.
FMC Tip #4: Mix and Match
Now, here’s where the real fun begins. It’s time to mix and match those leftover stars of the show. It’s like playing a game of food Tetris! Consider it your personal Iron Chef challenge. What happens when you combine turkey with sweet potatoes or cranberry sauce with Brussels sprouts? Deliciousness, that’s what! Explore flavor pairings, and you’ll be amazed at the creations that can emerge.
FMC Tip #5: Portion Control
Last but not least, when it comes to leftovers, it’s crucial to keep your portions in check. Don’t let your eyes become bigger than your stomach! Portion control is a surefire way to enjoy those delicious bites without going overboard. So, eat mindfully and savor the flavors one bite at a time. Your leftovers will thank you, and your waistline will too!
FMC Tip #6: Share the Love – Pass It On!
Now, let’s talk about a heartwarming tip that not only combats food waste but also spreads some love. If you find yourself with Thanksgiving leftovers that may not perfectly align with your health goals, don’t fret. Consider passing the delicious goodness on to friends, family, or neighbors who will savor every bite. It’s an act of kindness that not only ensures your culinary creations don’t go to waste but also brightens someone else’s day.
Another beautiful way to make a difference is by checking with your local food bank. They often welcome wholesome donations, and your Thanksgiving leftovers could be the highlight of a meal for someone in need. It’s a win-win, my friends! You reduce food waste, share the love, and make a positive impact on your community. So, this Thanksgiving, let’s remember that sharing is caring.
Now that you’re armed with these leftover-handling tips, it’s time to dive into the real magic – transforming those Thanksgiving remnants into incredible, healthy delights. Hungry for more? Let’s get cooking!
10 Thanksgiving Leftover Recipes
Here are XX easy ideas to rescue your Thanksgiving leftovers, turning them into delicious and nutritious meals while doing your part to reduce food waste.
Because these are leftover recipes, you’ll need to calculate the calories and macronutrients of the final meal on your own based on the recipes you used for the original dishes. But regardless of the calorie count on your original recipe, I’ll help you take some of your leftover food and re-package it in a much more calorie-conscious way.
I’ll start off with 4 quick recipes from my own kitchen, then I’ll serve up some of the best healthy recipes I love borrowing from other fabulous cooks.
For the first 4 recipes, I’ve sourced all the non-leftover ingredients from my friendly neighborhood Kroger grocery store, so it should be easy to gather everything you need for these Thanksgiving leftover transformations. WATCH THE VIDEO for context and to answer any recipe preparation questions.
Here are some of my recipes and some that I found online that you may enjoy preparing!
Mashed Potato Waffle
Extra Ingredients Needed:
– egg (or egg white)
– green onion
– reduced-fat cheddar (optional)
– spray coconut or olive oil
Let’s kick things off with a healthy twist: the Mashed Potato Waffle. This ingenious dish reimagines your leftover mashed potatoes, blending them with eggs, green onions, and a dash of reduced-fat cheddar. Since your mashed potatoes are already bursting with flavor, we keep the seasonings light. Simply pour this mixture into a waffle iron, lightly greased with olive oil, and let it cook for approximately 6 minutes.
Not only is this a mouthwatering way to repurpose Thanksgiving leftovers, but it’s also a healthier option to savor those delicious spuds. Packed with protein and a balance of flavors, it’s a perfect choice for a nourishing breakfast, a satisfying lunch, or a delightful dinner. So, waste not, want not, and indulge in this wholesome leftover transformation.
Try This DIY Frozen Sweet Potato Waffle Recipe!
Egg White Frittata
Extra Ingredients Needed:
– minced garlic
– diced onion
– egg whites
– reduced-fat mozzarella
– leftover kale
– leftover red bell pepper
– spray olive oil or coconut oil
Now, let’s dive into the next recipe: the Egg White Frittata. This clever recipe not only makes the most of your Thanksgiving leftovers but also serves up a healthier twist. Start by sautéing fragrant garlic and vibrant red onions in a drizzle of heart-healthy olive oil. Then, add in your leftover dressing or stuffing, infusing a burst of Thanksgiving flavors.
But here’s the healthy twist – toss in a colorful array of your favorite veggies, loading up on nutrients and antioxidants. Pour in the wholesome egg whites, keeping things light and protein-packed. To add a creamy finish, top it all off with a generous sprinkle of mozzarella cheese, because a little indulgence is just what this dish needs.
Once it’s perfectly assembled, cover it up and let it bake in the oven at 400°F for a delightful 25 minutes. You’ll not only savor the mouthwatering results of this leftover transformation but also relish the feeling of repurposing those Thanksgiving dishes in a nutritious and satisfying way.
Sweet Potato Salmon Cake
Sweet Potato Pie (or mashed sweet potatoes)
Extra Ingredients Needed:
– Almond flour (I used Simple Truth Almond flour)
– smoked paprika
– garlic powder
– green onion
– red bell pepper
Sweet Potato Salmon Patties, is a brilliant way to give your leftover sweet potato pie a tasty makeover. Start by mashing up that remaining sweet potato pie mix. Add an egg, salmon, garlic, a pinch of chili powder, a dash of cinnamon, and the zing of green onions and red bell peppers.
To keep things wholesome, introduce almond flour to bind the ingredients together, creating a sturdy mixture perfect for shaping into delectable patties. Give these patties some time in the refrigerator or freezer for at least 30 minutes to firm up before cooking.
When it’s time to enjoy, heat up a skillet and cook the patties for a quick 2 minutes on each side. Then, transfer them to a baking sheet and let them bake for an additional 10 minutes at 400°F. What emerges from the oven are these golden, satisfying Sweet Potato Salmon Patties, not only repurposing your leftovers but also providing a balanced, nutrient-rich meal to relish.
No-Mayo Curry Turkey Salad
Extra Ingredients Needed:
– fresh tarragon
– fresh rosemary (small amount)
– sea salt & pepper to taste
This one’s not your traditional turkey salad – for a healthy twist, we’ve dialed down the saturated fats by bidding adieu to mayo and embracing the creamy goodness of avocado.
Simply mash up the avocado, then blend it with the chopped leftover turkey, red onions, crisp celery, a dollop of Greek yogurt, and a touch of fragrant rosemary and tarragon. Give it a good mix and season to perfection with the warmth of curry powder, a sprinkle of sea salt, and a dash of freshly ground pepper.
This isn’t just a tasty way to repurpose those Thanksgiving leftovers; it’s also a health-conscious, mayo-free delight that delivers a delightful balance of flavors and textures. Enjoy a wholesome bite of our Curry Spiced Turkey Salad!
Try This Turkey & Egg Salad Sandwich!
Buffalo Turkey Salad
This recipe calls for chicken, but just swap the chicken for turkey, and BAM, you’ve got a delicious lettuce wrap that won’t even remind you of Thanksgiving (if you’re already tired of Thanksgiving flavors).
Even them cranberries can keep on giving! Try this no-cook option for a simple and healthy breakfast remake.
Hearty Turkey Salad
Turn this chicken salad into a turkey salad with your pile of leftover turkey. Skip the bread and either enjoy it right out of the bowl or serve it as a lettuce wrap.
Not only does this recipe clean up your leftover sweet potatoes and turkey, but it also packs your fridge with the best meal prep for the week.
Use up your turkey leftovers in this beautiful fall salad and enjoy the end of fall one more time before we move on to the Christmas season.
Stuffing Stuffed Mushrooms
Try these quick and easy stuffed mushrooms, ready in 30 minutes with your leftover stuffing. They’re a great snack to throw together for a friend dropping by during the holidays.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Hey, I'm Kevin
My name is Kevin. My life changed when I realized that healthy living is a lifelong journey, mainly won by having a well-balanced diet and maintaining an active lifestyle.
By experimenting in the kitchen and sharing my meals on Tumblr, I learned healthy eating is not boring! By making a few adjustments to my favorite foods, I could design a diet that could help me achieve my wellness goals while satisfying my desire for BANGIN food! 😅 Now I try to help people around the world realize that same level of freedom in eating regardless of budget. Welcome, let's #DemocratizeWellness together!