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What to do With Leftovers

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So, the Big Holiday Dinner was a raving success. Only now there is a pile of protein in your fridge that you really should use up. Or veggies. Or all sorts of other leftovers that didn’t get eaten up

Leftover mashed potatoes and gravy are easy. You reheat them and eat them. Same with sweet potatoes. Green beans or other green veggies will reheat nicely once, but any more than that, then they become pointless in terms of nutrition. The salad probably got slimy by the next day, and should be tossed into the trash.

A pot of made from turkey leftovers
Soup from leftover turkey

For most of us, the big leftovers problem is the big hunk of meat you cooked, whether it’s roast beef, a ham, or a turkey. You don’t want to be constantly reheating the meat – it will just get dry and nasty. And you do not want to eat ham every day for the next three weeks.

Start packaging the leftovers

Frankly, you’ll eventually have to break down the rest of that turkey carcass, roast, or ham so that you can reheat just what you need. It’s a messy job and mostly a matter of cutting whatever meat off the bones, then the leftover meat into smaller chunks or slices. After that, portion out the meat into several smaller containers and label them with the contents and the date you put them away. Put just enough meat into each container for one meal or even serving. Put one or two containers in the fridge, then freeze the rest. That’s why you labeled all those containers. Now, you can pull that bit of turkey out in a month or two when you want to add some to a skillet casserole, maybe.

What to do with it all

Don’t throw away the bones. You can use them. Reheat the leftover beef bones for a nice lunch and nibble all the remaining meat off of them. Ham bones make really great bean dishes or even a bean soup stand out. Just toss the bone into your pot right before you put the soup or the beans on a simmer. Nibble on the beef bones – they taste great. Turkey bones make a really great turkey stock. If you don’t want to freeze it in cubes (because it also makes a lot of stock), you can use the stock to make turkey soup. Or just make the turkey soup using some purchased stock.

The beef can be added to a skillet casserole. Just add it at the end since it’s already cooked. Roast beef is not as good in soup, but I’ve done it and it turned out okay. You can also make hash with the beef, and that’s tasty, too. In fact, you could make a hash with turkey.

As for all those packages of leftover ham, you can grind some up to make ham spread. You can put slices of ham in with sliced potatoes and cheese and make scalloped potatoes. You can serve it as a quick main course one night, in another month. It’s frozen, remember?

Leftovers can be tricky, but they also can really come in handy down the road when you need a fast mea.

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