It may be hard to imagine it now, but we are just weeks away from the bounty of holiday meals. A huge holiday meal spread often means an abundance of leftover food. Instead of falling into the leftover rut with a family that is sick eating the same thing over and over, add a little creativity to your leftovers to make the most of all that extra food this year!
Here are four steps that you can use to save money, save time and prevent food from going to waste during the busy holiday season.
Save recipes that incorporate typical holiday food ingredients throughout the year. If you spot a recipe that sounds like a hit and one of the ingredients is something you often cook for a holiday, keep it. Occasionally you may want to use that recipe at a different time so you’ll still want it to be accessible throughout the year. Therefore, create a section in your regular recipe book or box for holiday leftover recipes at the back. It won’t be the focal point when you’re looking for everyday recipes but will still be accessible for use throughout the year in case you need it. You’ll know right where to look when it comes time to use holiday leftovers, too.
Substitute a holiday meal ingredient for a regular ingredient in favorite family recipes. Be creative, and don’t be afraid to experiment. Turkey works just as well as chicken in so many casseroles or even in enchiladas. Do you have a great potato soup recipe? For a slight change in texture but an equally delicious meal, use leftover mashed potatoes instead of potato slices. Don’t limit yourself to chicken salad- consider turkey or ham instead.
Use leftovers as ingredients in recipes that can be easily customized. Think of dishes that work using a plethora of ingredients- omelets, soups, pizzas, sandwiches, etc. Why not put ham and green beans in an omelet instead of sausage and peppers? Create a soup that uses leftover meat and veggies. You can make pizza with those meats and veggies, too. Try using gravy as the sauce on a biscuit-based pizza to turn it into a breakfast pizza variation. Create a new sandwich variation- I’ve seen a restaurant sandwich made with turkey, stuffing, gravy and a cranberry glaze. That sure sounds like a Thanksgiving leftover-inspired creation! We love to make open faced, hot sandwiches with turkey or ham, a favorite sauce and cheese broiled until the cheese is melted and the bread is toasted. To allow everyone to eat what they wish, set up a create your-own bar for one of the ideas above and make cooking a family affair one night.
Freeze leftovers right away for later use. Many of us spend time cooking meals with the sole intention of saving them for later use. If you’re spending the time to cook a large holiday meal anyway, you can use the opportunity to save some of the leftovers as time-saving meals to use at a later date. An extra benefit of freezing extra meats or other dishes from a holiday meal is that this ensures the family won’t be as tired of eating that food all at one time of year. I don’t know about you, but I’ve certainly over-done the use of turkey in November but wouldn’t mind a little come springtime! When you use those frozen foods, that is a great time to pull out the holiday leftover recipe section of your recipe collection.