Grateful Not Wasteful Thanksgiving: Transform Leftovers

Did you know that 200 million pounds of turkey will be thrown away after Thanksgiving? Reading that shocked me into a renewed commitment to reduce food waste from my kitchen.

[su_expanding_quote_web source_site=”Huffington Post” source_url=”url for site” full_quote=”Americans will toss a whopping $282 million of uneaten turkey into the trash this Thanksgiving, contributing to the $165 billion in uneaten food Americans waste every year.  Along with trashing uneaten turkeys, they’ll be wasting the resources necessary for its production — meaning 105 billion gallons of water (enough to supply New York City for over 100 days) and greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to 800,000 car trips from New York to San Francisco.  That’s enough turkey to provide each American household that is food insecure with more than 11 additional servings, and 17.9 million American households suffer from food insecurity” short_quote=”Americans will toss a whopping $282 million of uneaten turkey into the trash this Thanksgiving”]

Here is  how I avoid wasting precious food from our Thanksgiving feast.

  1. Made turkey stock with the bones of the carved turkey. I used veggies scraps saved from making Thanksgiving dishes (green ends of leeks, tops of celery, trimmed ends of green beans etc) that I’d stored in a bag in the refrigerator. Sounds exhausting, but I find it’s best to do it right away that same night.
  2. Stored leftovers in glass containers. I’m mortified to admit I’ve thrown away too much food in the past simply because it was unidentified in my refrigerator and by the time I uncovered mystery containers, the food was inedible. Can you relate? I now use clear glass containers so I can see what’s inside. If in doubt, I masking tape and marker to identify it. If it doesn’t get eaten by the third day, it goes in the freezer
  3. Use the freezer. If there’s too much food leftover than can be eaten the next 2 – 3 days, I put it in 12-oz mason jars, labeled with masking tape. Or in Ziploc bags. I’m trying to give up using Ziploc bags but sometimes it’s still the best way to freeze larger amounts of soup or mashed potatoes.
  4. There are only so many leftover turkey sandwiches a person can eat. Here are some of the most enduring meals out of Thanksgiving leftovers:

Turkey Enchiladas

  • Chop leftover turkey meat
  • Mix with a can of (drained) organic beans
  • Add couple spoonfuls of enchilada sauce ( I like this one from Gimme Some Oven – or store bought)
  • Spread enchilada sauce to just cover bottom surface of casserole dish
  • Scoop large spoonful of turkey/bean mix on tortilla, roll up up and place in casserole dish
  • When casserole dish is full, spread enchilada sauce over the top and then grated cheese
  • Cook in an oven (preheated to 350) for 25 – 30 minutes until cheese is golden.

Turkey Barley Soup

  • Sautéed 1 chopped onion (about 1 1/2 cups) and 1 pound of sliced mushrooms until onions are translucent
  • Added 2 chopped carrots, 2 chopped celery stalks, 4 finely chopped garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup of barley, bay leaf, 1 teaspoon oregano, 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 6 -7 cups of turkey stock
  • Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to  low and simmer 40 – 45 minutes until barley is tender.
  • Seasoned with salt and pepper
  • When completely cooled, put in Ziploc bag and into freezer for a busy weeknight

Turkey Nachos

  • Filled the bottom of a casserole dish with tortilla chips
  • Spread 2 cups chopped turkey meat on top
  • Sprinkled with 1 teaspoon taco seasoning
  • Spread 1 cup finely chopped onion and 1 cup chopped tomato
  • Sprinkled 1/2 teaspoon additional taco seasoning
  • Spread 1 1/2 cup grated cheddar on top
  • Broiled in hot oven 5 minutes until cheese was melted

Turkey Sheppard Pie

  • Sautéed 1 chopped onion in 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Added 4 minced garlic, 1 28-oz can diced tomatoes, 1 teaspoon oregano
  • Covered and simmered over low heat 25 minutes
  • Added 1 cup chopped turkey and mixed well
  • Spread in a casserole dish
  • Topped with left over Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes and Mushrooms
  • Covered and placed in freezer for busy weeknight

Leftover Cranberry Sauce

  • Make a pot of oatmeal, mix in 1 tablespoon almond butter or coconut oil per serving, swirl in cranberry sauce, top with pumpkin seeds
  • Lunch wrap: spread wrap with soft goat cheese or whole-milk Greek yogurt, greens, cranberry sauce and chopped nuts
  • Rice cracker snack: spread with soft goat cheese, stop with cranberry sauce

For More Motivation to Reduce Thanksgiving food waste

Here’s How To Avoid Wasting Absurd Amounts Of Food On Thanksgiving:

Take Food Waste Off the Thanksgiving Menu

This Thanksgiving Be More Grateful Than Wasteful

Let’s Save the Food


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