Gathered around the Thanksgiving table is a prime opportunity to “talk turkey,” not just about the bird on the table but also about doing something beneficial with the leftovers and reducing food waste.
Here are some ways you can get creative with Thanksgiving leftovers:
- Practice will power. Put less food on your plate. Chances are there will be an opportunity for a second or even a third helping of a stellar stuffing or cranberry sauce.
- Reduce the calories. If you or your children subscribe to the behemoth 4,500-calorie Thanksgiving dinner theory, consider breaking that habit. It’s more than twice the number of calories needed by average adults to support their daily nutritional needs.
- Make a soup. Using the leftover Thanksgiving turkey and vegetables (carrots and squash are especially good to use) and turkey bones. It’s less fatty than chicken soup and, like chicken soup, can be frozen, to enjoy on raw winter nights.
- Make a delicious casserole. Trim all remaining meat from the turkey, including whatever is in shreds, and turn it into an excellent casserole with the leftover string beans, cauliflower, sweet potatoes and other vegetables. Top with some gravy and onions. Bake in a convection setting if your oven has one, or at 325-degrees F. until the top is golden brown and crispy.
- Add turkey to salads. Leftover Thanksgiving turkey makes a great protein addition in a green salad served as a main dish. Or, add some turkey to your favorite pasta salad.
- Make turkey enchiladas. Mix pieces of turkey in gravy, heat, and serve wrapped in heated whole wheat flour tortillas. Or, put turkey-filled tortillas in a baking pan, pour enchilada sauce over them, add a sprinkling of shredded cheese, and bake until hot and bubbly.
- Donate leftovers. Contact your local food pantry and inquire about donating Thanksgiving leftovers. Many pantries and organizations, such as Feeding America, one of the country’s leading domestic hunger-relief organizations, provide searchable databases of food banks by state that can be contacted for food donations. Go to www.feedingamerica.org for details. Your state’s Social Services department will also likely have a searchable list of food pantries and food banks that you can contact. Try to do so well before Thanksgiving, to learn their procedures and to make arrangements for your own food donations.
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