It’s the week before Thanksgiving, and like a lot of you, I’m planning my menu, debating what to prep ahead, and generally trying to smooth over turkey day before it comes so I’m not a crazy lady. For most seasoned cooks, Thanksgiving is the chance to shine. You get to prepare weeks in advance, plan your family’s favorite elaborate dishes, and then set a stunning (or simple) table filled to the brim with the dishes you love most.
And then, it’s over and you’re packing away the containers of leftovers.
If you’re hosting, maybe family and friends will take their own share of leftovers with them, but depending on how huge a feast you make, you’ll likely have turkey for days, among other things! So if you’re like me and you get tired of repetitive leftovers, here are some recipes you might keep on the backburner for those days after Thanksgiving when you have to find a meal idea but don’t have space in your fridge because of Tupperware full of turkey, gravy, and mashed potatoes!
Let’s start with a quick list of simple things you can do to revamp your leftovers:
- Turkey Pot Pie: this is the classic, all-in-one easy leftover dish. If you’re buying prepared pie crusts, snag an extra box of them and this dish is easy to pull together on the day after Thanksgiving. Grabbing a frozen bag of peas and carrots, some cream of chicken soup, and extra onions makes this an easy meal, and I imagine most seasoned cooks have their own favorite version of this comforting meal. But see the link above for an easy recipe if you don’t have one!
- Potato Cakes: mashed potatoes become breakfast in this easy meal. Add some flour, an egg, milk, some seasoning, and mash your potatoes into disks to fry up alongside some eggs and bacon the next morning. These can be savory with added cheese and green onions and make a hearty addition to your usual fare.
- Turkey Panini/Sandwich: when you have extra cranberry sauce and turkey, an easy lunch is to grab a couple slices of hearty bread to put together a delicious sandwich. Mix a little cranberry sauce with mayonnaise to create a unique condiment to slather on your bread, slap some turkey and a little warmed-up gravy on top, and you can get very creative with the additions! Plus, it all comes together quickly if you need a fast meal. If you’re really looking for something unique, try this New York Times recipe, while not exactly quick, it features a club-style turkey sandwich that has a piece of fried dressing in the place of a third slice of bread!
If you’re looking for some additional ways to repurpose your Thanksgiving leftovers, I’m going to share a few recipes you can check out that might hit the spot.
Thanksgiving Leftovers Casserole: a simple name for a casserole that basically takes all your favorite leftovers and layers them! From your turkey, mashed potatoes, and gravy on down to the dressing, vegetables, and even cranberry sauce, this is an easy way to use up all your food in one warm meal. Add a can of crescent rolls and maybe some salad to complete your dinner.
Leftover Stuffing Cakes: instead of making potato cakes, take your leftover dressing to the next level with this recipe. The author combines these stuffing cakes with a runny fried egg and various toppings to create a decadent Thanksgiving themed breakfast that sounds perfect! One commenter noted that instead of frying her stuffing cakes, she cooked them in a waffle iron. Genius!
Turkey Cranberry Pasta Salad: for a lighter meal, try this pasta salad on for size. And, really, who doesn’t want a lighter option after the big meal? This actually looks like a delicious lunch option if you need something to snag in between catching all the Black Friday sales.
Thanksgiving In A Blanket: another mishmash of all things Thanksgiving leftovers, this recipe takes your favorites and rolls them into canned crescent rolls before baking them up nice and warm. Reheat your gravy for a delicious turkey “au jus” to dip them in!
Split Pea Soup With Ham: if ham was on the menu, try turning it into a warm, comforting soup. Just add some hot crusty bread on the side or leftover rolls if you have them.
Do you need more ideas for leftovers? Check out this list compiled by the Pioneer Woman. It’s got ways to tackle everything from leftover cranberry sauce (cranberry-orange rolls, anyone?) to too much canned pumpkin (pumpkin chili!) to leftover ham (breakfast casserole).