I’m totally game for a meal or two of re-running the Thanksgiving feast, but after a while, I think most of us get turkey-ed out! So what’s a frugal girl (or guy) to do when it goes against every frugal bone in our body to waste food?
Freeze it! I love having a few bags of frozen turkey on hand to use as the base for a ton of leftover transformations in the weeks to come. You can’t beat Thanksgiving turkey prices for lean protein, so I always cook extra. Once the meal’s done, try to get whatever leftover meat you won’t eat in the next few weeks into quart-size freezer bags. The sooner they head to the freezer, the fresher they’ll be when you use them. I find that a quart-size bag is usually a pretty good amount for most of my leftover recipes. Mixing in the dark meat with the white is a good way to use it up, and it adds great flavor to the recipes too!
I’ll also take the bones of the turkey (once the meat’s been removed) and put them in my biggest pot with some celery and a little leftover onion if I have it, then fill it with water and boil for a couple of hours to make homemade broth. So nice to freeze and have on hand for soups throughout the winter
Here are some of my favorite transformations for Thanksgiving leftovers:
- Mix with mayo, grapes, and whatever else you like for turkey salad
- Chop into small pieces and sandwich between 2 tortillas with a little sour cream, shredded cheese, and taco seasoning for turkey quesadillas (I make these on my big pancake griddle)
- Substitute for chicken in soups or casseroles (like Chicken broccoli rice casserole or Chicken and Gnocchi soup).
- Store-bought pie crust + bag of frozen mixed veggies + simple white sauce + turkey = yummy (but pretty quick & easy) turkey pot pie
- Mix a can of cream of chicken soup with a scoop of sour cream, pour over turkey & frozen mixed veggies in a 9 x 13 pan, then top with prepared stuffing mix and bake—an easy 1-dish dinner (if you have leftover stuffing, throw that in a freezer bag too, and use that in this recipe instead of a box of Stove Top!)
- Spread pesto on some italian bread, add turkey & mozzarella cheese, and make a panini
- Crack open a jar of gravy (or use leftover Thanksgiving gravy!) and a tube of cheap Pillsbury and have turkey gravy & biscuits on a busy evening—not gourmet, but it’s a hot meal that’s cheaper than takeout. I usually dump my leftover gravy right into a freezer bag and add a few handfuls of turkey so we’re ready to roll!
- Save that leftover stuffing and use it for stuffed pork chops! Throw frozen pork chops into a crock pot, top with stuffing and cream of mushroom or chicken soup, and leave it on low for about 8 hours…so good!
Most of the recipes in this post can be done with leftover turkey too. I cook a bigger turkey than I need just to have enough left to freeze and enjoy! When the meat’s already pre-cooked, there are a lot of simple busy night options–you won’t even notice it’s leftovers! I’d love to hear how you use your leftover turkey in the comments below!