Don’t toss that turkey! What to do with holiday leftovers

I love leftovers! I love reheating them in their original incarnation. I love reconfiguring them into new dishes. I also love packing them up to be frozen and enjoyed a few months down the road. Leftovers make life easy and delicious. So, imagine my shock when I heard the following statistic last weekend on Northwest Cable News:

Americans will throw away nearly $300 million of Thanksgiving turkey!

“Nationwide, consumers will purchase around 736 million pounds of turkey this Thanksgiving, of which about 581 million pounds will be actual meat. The USDA reports that 35 percent of perfectly good turkey meat in the U.S. does not get eaten after it is purchased by consumers (and that’s not including bones). This compares with only 15 percent for chicken. Why the disparity? ‘Possibly because turkey is more often eaten during holidays when consumers may tend to discard relatively more uneaten food than on other days,’ the USDA writes.”

-From Dana Gunders on Switchboard November 13, 2012

Wait! Are you kidding me! Throw away $300 MILLION Dollars (155 MILLION pounds) of turkey!!!!! OH HECK NO! Not on my watch!

Readers, keep your food (and money) out of the landfill – there is life after Turkey Day!

To inspire you I have assembled a round up of recipes so fantastic you may want to go ask your neighbors for their leftovers so you can try them all!

Quick Ideas

Make a Shepherds Pie – mix diced turkey, unused stuffing veggies, &gravy; cover with mashed potatoes and sprinkle with crunched up French Fried Onions (optional).

• Stuffing Croutons – Oven toast leftover dressing/stuffing on a cookie sheet at 300 until crisp. (from Martha Stewart Radio)

• Blend fruit salad into smoothies

• Fold remains of hot veggie dishes into omelets

• Cook couscous in turkey or chicken stock, stir in diced turkey &thawed peas. Let sit until peas warm through. A meal in less than 20 minutes that makes me really happy.

• Freeze it. If you do reach the end of your turkey rope. Tightly wrap the remaining meat and pop it into the freezer until after the holidays. It’ll make a quick meal in January.

From Our Lady of Second Helpings

Thanksgiving Dinner Pizza: The flavors of Thanksgiving Day all all represented in this shockingly delicious pizza. Includes a recipe for cranberry pesto

Turkey Apple &Cranberry Sandwiches: Traditional leftover sandwiches with lightened twists!

Potato Hash: Turns leftovers into a hearty meal with lovely crispy bits. Good for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

Make stock: Remove the meat then make stock and freeze for soups later in the winter.

Pumpkin Pancakes: Leftover pumpkin pureé, pancake batter, cranberry sauce This breakfast is as easy as 1, 2, 3!

More from the web

Leftover Turkey Ravioli with Gravy — A Spicy Perspective: A little bit of everything folded into a wonton wrapper! Includes a leftover recipe round up.

Brussels Sprouts, Potatoes, and Turkey Hash – Serious Eats: Lighten this recipe by using a non-stick pan and omitting most of the fat/oil.

Turkey and Lentil Soup – About.com Low Fat Cooking: A dash of curry takes this simple soup from dull to delish’

Recipe for Leftover Turkey (or Ground Turkey) and Pinto Bean White Chili with Lime and Cilantro – Kalyn’s Kitchen: Hearty and spicy to warm you on crisp fall days.

Cran-Turkey Enchiladas – Better Homes and Gardens: A festive twist on a family favorite – lighten by using fat free sour cream, reduced fat cheese, &light tortillas

Slow Cooker Turkey Stroganoff – Skinny Ms.: use leftover roast turkey in place of ground turkey, toss this in your Crockpot and take a nap!

Cranberry-Banana Smoothie – Gluten-Free Goddess: Sweet, tart, cold, and frothy. What’s not to love?

Sweet Potatoes with Pecans, Apples, and Dried Cranberries – Jessie Monds: If the name doesn’t sell you, click through and the pictures will!

Butternut Squash and Potato Latkes – Betsy Life: If you have a few spuds that avoided the masher turn them into these tasty treats.

Don’t Toss the Sauce: 3 Creative Cocktails Using Leftover Cranberry Sauce- Shape Magazine: 3 cocktails, with booze, and cranberry. Why are you still reading?!?

I hope this list inspires you to try a new recipe in the coming week. Enjoy your leftovers — you worked hard for them!

Northwest Cable News very kindly sent me these links to source material used in their piece on Thanksgiving food waste. Thank you NWCN!

These numbers will help you feel grateful, not wasteful

Americans Waste $282M of Turkey

Americans Will Throw Out $282 Million Worth Of Uneaten Turkey This Thanksgiving

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