Approach leftovers as part of the holidays

A new approach to leftovers

While leftovers are often, well… an afterthought, yet a big part of holiday traditions, we thought it would be fun to approach leftovers as part of the celebration. So, as you plan your meal, develop your strategy for leftovers, which can be almost as fun as the meal itself.

Make leftovers part of your holiday traditions

Food and the holidays are so interconnected. We usually associate a food with a memory, a place or a person, especially around the holidays. If you love a certain food, or dish, make a little extra so you know there will be some left over. Make 10 minutes of free time for yourself after the celebration, or the day after while you eat the food. Making time for your favorite leftover gives you a moment to slow down and take in the feelings of the season.

Plan… for leftovers or to avoid them

Some people like to eat a lot of leftovers and some don’t. Coming up with a strategy can keep you from throwing too much away if the idea of eating the same food for multiple meals doesn’t sound appealing. If you love leftovers and making new recipes with what is in the refrigerator, perhaps you plan to have more to use throughout the weekend and maybe even into the next week 😉. Many experience a great deal of stress worrying if they will run out of food and over buy. Preparation and planning can help you feel good about the portions you want to have (or don’t want to have) at the end of the meal.

Make use of the deli

Some recipes might call for an item that you love in that one dish, but you know it won’t get eaten any other time. Grab only what you need from the deli and you won’t have to worry about throwing away half used cans, or jars. For example Kalamata olives might not be your family’s favorite, but you want to use them in a dish. It may only call for a few and then you will be left with a jar that will end up in the garbage. Pick out 10-15 at the deli, use it for the recipe and you can rest assured you won’t have leftovers of that item.

Assemble items only as you need them

This is extra work on the front end, but could save time and money in the long run. For example, if you serve a salad with butternut squash you may want to use the squash for a different meal over the weekend. If you assemble everyone’s salad on their plate,  the squash isn’t mixed in with the salad ingredients and can be used for another dish. Dress salads and add gravy and sauces on the plates as well in order to keep the remaining food dry and ready to use for another dish.

Exchange with a friend

This could be a fun new tradition with someone special in your life (or someone who is a great cook 😀). Select a container that you can exchange with your friend (and they will select one for you). Make plans to exchange leftovers from your meal and a day you will meet after the holiday. After the meal, pack it up in the container, with your friend’s name on it and exchange it for the leftovers from their meal. You can share stories of the holiday and eat together, or use the items for your next meal.

Throw a “leftovers only” party

If you are already celebrating the holiday with friends, maybe try this with some family or another group of your favorite people. Make a plan after the holiday to have a small gathering, leftovers only! Everyone brings something (or multiple things) to enjoy together and keep the celebration going. As long as everyone understands it’s a way to use what’s left (and not buy anything more) it can be a fun tradition, possibly good for laughs and some social media worthy food pics.

Throughout the holiday season we will share recipes which can help you make delicious and simple dishes using what is left from traditional holiday meals.


Turn it around: Instead of stuffing the Turkey, stuff some eggplant with the leftover turkey meat and you create a whole new, healthy and delicious meal.

Roast any leftover bread or stuffing with broccoli & zucchini and enjoy a super-quick, wholesome and comfortable meal.

For leftover green beans, any other vegetables and some of the turkey meat, make a simple and versatile Frittata as breakfast for dinner.


Chop it up and make something that looks and feels a lot different: Easy Shepherd’s Pie is a great way to use your leftover brisket and Latkes. Mash up the potato pancakes and break the brisket down into smaller pieces and you have a delicious meal ready to go!

If you find yourself with more brisket left over, this delicious Beef Stew with Creamy Mushroom Sauce & Rice is easy to put together. It gives the brisket a chance to shine again with rice and other flavors.


Christmas is one of those holiday meals which can be specific from family to family. Some want to enjoy seafood as an entrée, some love a ham or prime rib. No matter what you put on your table, there will probably be some leftover.

Turn your ham into a delicious quiche with any leftover vegetables or add carrots and cauliflower.

Make a light lunch using your leftover seafood by wrapping it up.

For those with leftover beef, enjoy it again for dinner but change up the sides a bit so it feels like a new meal.


Similar to Christmas, everyone’s table on Karamu, during Kwanzaa, might look a little different, but there are probably similarities in what might be left over.

If you have corn left from your celebration you might enjoy some chowder to bring out its sweetness in a comforting way.

You might find yourself with extra sweet potatoes, yams or squash. Combine with your leftover rice and create a curry to mix it up.

New Year’s Eve

Now that most of the holiday celebrations have come to an end, many of us are anxious to get back to our routines, and some lighter eating.

If you enjoyed seafood to bring in the new year, pair with some vegetables and enjoy a light meal.

If your leftover steak or prime rib is calling to you, enjoy the richness of the beef with some vegetable-forward sides.

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