Don’t Let Thanksgiving Dinner Go To Waste!

If you’re like I am, your belly is swollen from a bit too much turkey and you’re looking at giant piles of leftovers and realizing that, yet again, you’re going to be eating turkey and dressing and mashed potatoes for the next several days and probably throwing a lot of it out. Ugh.

Instead, try doing something creative with all of those leftovers. Here are seven interesting and useful ideas of what to do with the giant piles of Thanksgiving leftovers that won’t leave you sick of the same old food when Saturday rolls around. These tips will not only save you the expense of simply wasting food, but can help provide a memorable Thanksgiving for everyone.

Give some of the food to older shut-ins. We usually prepare a few plates of food and take these out to the homes of older people who don’t have a family to dine with on Thanksgiving dinner. This year, we will deliver about eight plates of food. If you don’t know anyone who could use those plates, just close your eyes and try to think of people who live near you who could really use or even just really appreciate that plate of food, whether it be the single mother that lives down the hall or an old quiet couple down the block.

Make mashed potato omelets. Mash 1 pound of potatoes with salt, pepper and butter. Beat 5-6 eggs, add sautéed onions or mushrooms if desired and mix with potatoes. Pour into a well-buttered round baking pan and bake in a preheated 325 degree oven until the eggs are set, approximately 40 minutes. I often stop it about ten minutes before completion and cover it with cheese. It makes a hearty breakfast the morning after Thanksgiving, especially for anyone brave enough to go out and fight the Black Friday crowds.

Stuff other meats with the leftover stuffing. Once it’s been frozen for about a week, get it out and use it to stuff a pork loin or a chicken. This will invigorate the stuffing with a new flavor and also create a stellar meal out of an ordinary pork loin or chicken.

Have a mashed potato sculpture contest. If you have way too much mashed potatoes left over, have a mashed potato sculpture contest. Gather the kids around a table and give them all an equal amount of mashed potatoes. Have them each make a sculpture out of those potatoes in a given amount of time – a timer in the middle of the table set for 45 minutes is good for this. The winner gets to wake up Uncle Roy. It’s a great way to keep an army of children entertained, which is an important part of our large Thanksgiving dinners.

Make a kugel. Take some leftover stuffing, add a healthy dose of onion powder, mix in some of the leftover mashed potatoes, then shape it into a pancake shape and fry it. If you want to really throw everyone for a loop, just take the stuffing and a bit of the mashed potatoes, mix in a lot of raisins and dried fruit, and then cook it like a pancake for a sweet and savory treat.

Send leftover packages home with guests. The best way to do this is to buy some large Ziploc containers before the meal, then send some of your guests home with ample food for them to prepare their own meals with. You don’t have to be overbearing when making this offer, just prepare a few and offer them quietly to guests when they leave. Using Ziploc containers removes the need to have a container returned, too.

Make turkey tetrazzini. This dish is so flavorfully different than Thanksgiving dinner that you’ll likely not realize you’re using leftovers. Just saute a handful of mushrooms until they’re tender, then in another pan mix two tablespoons of dry milk, one tablespoon of corn starch, a chicken boullion cube, and some healthy dashes of salt, pepper, onion powder, and nutmeg along with two cups of water and cook it until it’s thick and bubbly and tastes all right to you. Cook six or eight ounces of pasta (we use egg noodles), put them in a baking dish, then put the mushrooms on top, then put a bunch of the leftover turkey on top of that, then pour the sauce over the top of that, then sprinkle some Parmesan cheese on top and a dash or two of paprika. Toss it in the oven at 350 for 30 minutes (or until it’s bubbling) and you’ll have a great Italian dinner that uses up some of that turkey.

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