The Herald Bulletin

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November 22, 2012

Options for Thanksgiving Day leftovers

ANDERSON, Ind. — That 15-pound turkey just didn’t look big enough, so you had to bump it up to 20 pounds. But now you are left with at least half of an untouched turkey, gobs of mashed potatoes and even some green bean casserole.

Don’t worry. You can stretch your food dollar and eliminate waste by using leftovers to create new and tasty dishes including pizza, chili, soup, sandwiches or salad.

Elisha Hernandez of Anderson said it is important to store your food leftovers soon after eating, instead of leaving them sitting out all evening — so the food doesn’t spoil.

“Pack it up before you get all comfortable,” Hernandez said. “If you cook things in throwaway containers, you can wrap them up in the containers they are already in and save time and effort when it comes to doing the dishes.”

Hernandez and her family spend about $300 on the Thanksgiving meal, so stretching the food out over several meals helps save money. She’ll make up several dishes in the days after Thanksgiving, even freezing some for later.

Turkey and noodles is a standard meal each year served with mashed potatoes, something her kids love, Hernandez said. Potato cakes made from the leftover mashed potatoes for breakfast or as a side dish is another go-to post-holiday dish.

Excess ham along with the ham bone is perfect for ham and beans, something Hernandez remembers having after every Thanksgiving when she was a child.

“You can find a way to reuse everything,” she said. “Don’t throw away the food.”

Leftovers from the relish tray can even be helpful for new side items. Boil cauliflower with onions and garlic and mash like potatoes for a healthy spin and richer flavor over mashed potatoes. Other leftover veggies, cut-up pieces of turkey, and gravy and tomato juice can make a great turkey vegetable soup.

The idea that turkey should be reserved for the traditional “turkey day” is a notion from the past.

The National Turkey Federation pointed out that the poultry is no longer just a holiday protein. While in the 1970s half of the year’s consumption was on holidays, today that number is around 30 percent. So options to use the bird are endless.

The organization said last year’s U.S. consumption of turkey was about 5 billion pounds, or 16.1 pounds per person.

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