10 Creative Ways to Give Thanksgiving Leftovers a Healthy Spin & Reduce Food Waste by Susan Bowerman, M.S., R.D., CSSD, CSOWM, FAND

2 years ago

10 Creative Ways to Give Thanksgiving Leftovers a Healthy Spin & Reduce Food Waste

With Thanksgiving approaching, it’s time to start thinking about upcoming holiday celebrations and the beautiful, elaborate meals we’ll be preparing to share with family and friends. Big holiday parties are often extravagant, which can lead to overeating and may also contribute to food waste.

Rather than tossing out leftovers and wasting food, try some of these healthy uses for holiday leftovers:


  • Shred it into meal-sized portions and freeze. It’s great to have it handy to add to salads and soups.
  • Try making turkey lettuce cups. Heat up some minced leftover turkey with some diced scallions and a little Chinese hoisin sauce, then spoon into iceberg lettuce leaves. It’s a light and refreshing change from the usual turkey sandwiches.
  • Make turkey soup. Once the turkey bones have been stripped of all their meat, simmer them with onion, celery, carrots, salt and pepper for a few hours to produce a delicious stock.

Cranberry Sauce

  • Try it on top of plain yogurt or oatmeal or spooned over mixed fresh fruit for a quick dessert.
  • Blend it with nonfat cream cheese to make a tasty spread for your whole-grain toast.
  • Spice it with some ginger, garlic and soy sauce and serve on grilled fish or tofu. It tastes like a sophisticated barbecue sauce.

Sweet Potatoes

  • If your dish wasn’t too sweet, dice up leftovers with the leftover turkey and sauté with some onions and other veggies for a one-dish hash. Serve with a green salad and you’re all set.

You’ll want to use the following sparingly and stretch them out with some healthier ingredients, as they are some of the highest calorie leftovers:


  • Add some canned tomatoes and chopped turkey to your leftover stuffing to make a filling for stuffed peppers.

Green Bean Casserole

  • Try heating it up with some white wine or broth, then add some garlic and hot pepper flakes and toss with some whole-grain pasta.

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Donna John
Love these ideas! Especially stuffing peppers with the leftover turkey and stuffing. Definitely doing that this year!
There’s a ton of food waste during the holidays. I’m liking your suggestions.
Julio Caro
Thanks for Sharing......

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