Spicing Up Your Meal Prep with Thanksgiving Leftovers

By Sarah Leahy, CPT – November 23, 2022

Thanksgiving is that wonderful time of year when you get together with friends and family and have a feast of delicious food. Most of us end up with a refrigerator chock-full of leftovers the next day and spend the next week eating leftover turkey and mashed potatoes. 

If you’re sick of reheating the same old Thanksgiving fare for days on end, here are a few creative ways to prep meals using your leftovers. 

Turkey

Turkey.

Leftover turkey is the perfect lean protein base for some quick and easy meals. 

Turkey Tacos – Shred your leftover white meat, add some taco seasoning, throw it in a corn tortilla and top with some mango salsa, pepitas, cotija and fresh cilantro. Quick and easy! 

Turkey Flatbread – Preheat your oven to 425°F, top a whole-wheat flatbread with leftover turkey, basil pesto, fresh mozzarella and sliced tomato, and bake for about 10 minutes until crispy. Instant thin crust pizza for one! 

Turkey Grain Bowl – Start with quinoa or couscous, add fresh spinach, leftover turkey, feta, pickled onions and a little seasoning (za’atar or your favorite seasoning blend), and enjoy! 

Mashed Potatoes

Mashed potatoes.

Is there any food as perfect as a potato? Enjoy your leftover mashed potatoes (or sweet potatoes) by cooking them in new ways. 

Potato Waffles – This is the simplest way to enjoy leftover mashed potatoes. Use them as is, or add chives and savory seasoning, or warm spices like cinnamon. Then, throw them in your waffle iron, and voila! Instant potato waffles. Enjoy them with sweet toppings like agave syrup or honey, greek yogurt, jam or applesauce, or with savory toppings like an egg or turkey bacon. 

Potato Cakes – Another simple way to enjoy leftover mashed potatoes is to simply take the chilled leftovers and form them into patties. Then, heat them in a cast iron skillet for about five minutes per side until crispy. Add toppings and enjoy them plain, or add them as a side to a weeknight meal. 

Potato Soup – Repurpose those mashed potatoes into a delicious and hearty soup. Blend together leftover mashed potatoes with chicken or veggie stock, season to your taste and heat slowly on the stovetop or in an instant pot. You can change the flavor by adding garlic, onion and herbs to the blender, seasoning the soup with salt, pepper and chives, or topping with shredded cheese.

Stuffing

Stuffing.

If there’s one food that can be vastly different at each family gathering, it’s the stuffing. With so many ways to prepare it, the leftovers can be tricky to use in your meals, but there are plenty of simple ways to enjoy it! 

Egg Cups – Spray a muffin tin with the cooking oil of your choice, and preheat the oven to 350°F. Add a spoonful of leftover stuffing, using the back of the spoon to create a divet in the middle, pushing the stuffing down and to the sides. Crack an egg or add egg whites to the center, and bake for about 10 minutes. 

Meatballs – Mix your leftover stuffing with one beaten egg, a little regular or non-dairy milk, and add ground turkey or chicken. Form into 1- to 2-inch balls, and space evenly on a prepared baking sheet. Bake at 350°F for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until meat is fully cooked. 

Waffles – Yes, more waffles! You can make anything into a waffle if you try hard enough, and you can enjoy both sweet and savory varieties. Add a scoop of leftover stuffing onto your waffle iron and enjoy, or add eggs and seasonings for a full waffle meal! 

Cranberry Sauce 

Cranberry sauce.

A simple and easy ingredient to throw into breakfast, dessert and everything in between, take advantage of the seasonal tart flavor of that leftover cranberry sauce! 

Oats – Top a bowl of steel-cut oats with leftover cranberry sauce, a sprinkle of cinnamon and some fresh apples. For an extra fall treat, dice and saute the apple with a little cinnamon before mixing it with your leftover cranberry sauce and topping your oatmeal. 

Fall Spice Protein Shake – In a blender, combine your milk or non-dairy milk of choice with a scoop of apple pie or vanilla protein powder, about ½ cup of Greek or non-dairy yogurt, leftover cranberry sauce, agave or honey to sweeten to your taste, and a dash of cinnamon, nutmeg, ground clove and salt. If you like your smoothies thicker, add some ice before blending. 

Protein Yogurt – Combine a cup of Greek or non-dairy yogurt with a scoop of the protein powder flavor of your choice, and freeze for about 15 to 20 minutes (less time for low/nonfat yogurt, longer for full fat). While it’s freezing, heat your leftover cranberry sauce over low heat, adding additional cinnamon or spices to taste. Remove the frozen protein yogurt from the freezer, and top with the warm cranberry sauce, a little honey to sweeten if needed, mandarin orange slices, and pistachio pieces for a high-protein, delicious dessert.

With these tips and tricks, you can enjoy delicious meals even post-Thanksgiving!

About the Author

Sarah Leahy smiling with a weight in her hands.

Sarah Leahy is a Minneapolis transplant in East Austin, certified personal trainer, award-winning interior designer and former gym owner. She offers in-person and online training with an emphasis on strength training and building confidence in and out of the gym. Leahy’s passion for strength extends to your business, with a full offering of gym design and business consulting services.

 
 

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