What to Do with Thanksgiving Leftovers
A turkey is probably the largest food most of us will ever cook. With all the side dishes and desserts that go along with the Thanksgiving meal, most of us will end up with leftovers. It doesn’t have to be a struggle to use up the leftovers. We’ve gathered some easy and nutritious recipes from the USDA Mixing Bowl to help you.
Your leftover plan actually starts right after the Thanksgiving dinner. Cut the turkey off the bone and refrigerate it as soon as you can, within 2 hours of the turkey coming out of the oven. Leftovers will last for 4 days in the refrigerator, so if you know you won’t use them right away, pack them into freezer bags or airtight containers and freeze. For best quality, use your leftover turkey within 4 months. Frozen leftover turkey is safe forever, but after 4 months it can dry out or lose flavor.
To make it easier to use the leftover turkey, pack it into meal-sized portions so that you can use just what you need. When it’s time to use the turkey, thaw it safely. If you will be slicing or cubing the cooked turkey for your new meals, leaving it partially frozen will make it easier to cut and will hardly affect the cooking time. When reheating cooked foods, be sure to use a food thermometer to make sure they have been heated an internal temperature of 165˚F.
Here are some recipes to use up those turkey leftovers:
- Vegetable and Turkey Stir Fry : this healthy stir-fry includes ginger root for flair.
- Turkey Tostadas : The whole family will love this recipe. You could also substitute taco shells or tortillas for the tostadas.
- Eve's Tasty Turkey Tetrazzini and Turkey Rice Casserole : casseroles are quick to make on a busy night. These recipes are great for pasta and rice lovers.
- Turkey Roast and Rice Soup : save your November leftovers and make a delicious pot of hot soup when the weather gets cold.
- Sarah's Spicy Curry Turkey Soup : this cold weather recipe is perfect for extra flavor.
- Turkey Salad with Orange Vinaigrette : for a light and quick meal.
If you have additional questions about using your leftovers safely, you can call the USDA Meat & Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) or chat live with a food safety specialist at AskKaren.gov available from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday, in English or Spanish.