Thanksgiving Leftovers Done Right

To at least 65 percent of us, Thanksgiving leftovers are more important than the actual meal itself.  We are now less than a week away from the Big Day and while you are making your lists and checking them twice, make sure you have plenty of Ziploc bags.   While you’re at it, verify the supply of foil, plastic wrap, wax and parchment paper.  Your kitchen is about to come under a major assault.  Be prepared.

Deal with those leftovers one time only and do it the right way.  Enlist that eager “can I help?” person to pack up whatever bounty you are lucky enough to still have.  As you transfer from serving dishes, think “freezer.”  Give that helper a black Sharpie and get those Ziplocs ready.  Turkey can go into several gallon size freezer bags.  Mashed potatoes, casseroles, and veggies into quart sized.  Make up a few tv-dinner style Thanksgiving dinners that have turkey, mashed potatoes, some veggies, etc. to send home with your guests, again, thinking freezer.  Make sure to label and date everything.  Into the fridge it goes!

Here comes the good part.  Just as eager as everyone is to dive in and make their day-after sandwich, there will come a point where those same people say “no more turkey!”  If your food is in labeled Ziplock bags all you have to do is transfer to the freezer.  The first year I did this, I was amazed at how much clean up it saved me, and even more amazed at how fast and easy it was to get those precious leftovers frozen without any delay.  Your guests can eat what they want out of theirs, and freeze the rest for a no-cook meal and a happy memory of your Thanksgiving.

Frozen flat, those Ziploc bags will take up little space in your freezer, and will come in handy in the coming months to fill out your winter meals.  Vegetables can go into soups or casseroles, and I like to use mashed potatoes to top Shepherd’s Pie or make potato soup (same with sweet potatoes).   Leftover side dishes will be just as good the second time around.   Reach for them to accompany whatever meat you are preparing and you have a meal.

Don’t forget that pie.  I cut individual slices and freeze on small paper plates.  Wrapped with Glad Press ’n Seal and labeled, you will have a variety on hand and not waste any of your baked goods.

Now add a loaf of bread to your last-minute grocery list.  The kind you want for your Thanksgiving sandwich.   With all the excitement, it’s easy to forget about this, and you don’t want to be making that all important sandwich on just any bread.  Plan for this now.

Did you know there are 17 ridges on a 14-ounce can of Ocean Spray Jellied Cranberry Sauce?   Some other fun Thanksgiving facts can be found on   Stay tuned for recipes using Thanksgiving leftovers.

Donna Ferguson

Donna Ferguson

I love to cook, garden, and write about all the things in Vancouver and the Northwest that make life so great.

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