Asian family cooking food together in kitchen. Indian mother and children preparing meal at home. Traditional India people with sari clothing.

The Leftovers Start Here!

“The most remarkable thing about my mother is that for thirty years she served the family nothing but leftovers. The original meal has never been found.” Calvin Trillin, author, and writer for The New Yorker

Are you swimming in turkey? Up to your elbows in brisket? Drowning in mashed potatoes? Swamped in challah or dinner rolls (or both!)? Stumbling your way through macaroni and cheese? Trying to work out how to serve collard greens for breakfast? Do you have enough samosas to celebrate next year’s Diwali? Look no further! We’ve got you covered. And it’s the perfect time of year to be talking about leftovers. Do you know why? No, not because of Thanksgiving! November 26th is National Leftovers Day! For real. Read on!

First things first, reduce leftovers before you even start cooking. Having people over? Pin down how many will be attending and consider how much and what to purchase well before you start cooking. Make a list before shopping and after checking your pantry to confirm what you do and do not need. Try not to become tempted by the in-store food displays. If it’s not on your list, it’s not in your cart. Think about who will be at your table and plan accordingly. You’ll save both time and money.

On the back end, send guests home with some of those leftovers. What may be too much for you, might be perfect for someone else. Wrap up some of those roasted sweet potatoes and gift them to your guests with young children. They can take those potatoes home and enjoy them for dinner the next day. Just add a can of beans, heat up some tortillas, open a jar of salsa and you’ve got a quick and HEALTHY taco dinner! Who doesn’t love a taco?

A close up view delicious vegan tacos with sweet potatoes and cilantro and vegetables
Vegan tacos with sweet potatoes and cilantro and vegetables

Next on the list, food safety! Below are four ‘C’s’ to pay attention to:

  • Clean – All food prep surfaces, your hands, utensils, and be sure to wash your hands after handling raw meat.
  • Cross Contaminate – Use separate utensils and cutting boards for raw and cooked meat and keep raw meat separate from fresh vegetables and bread,
  • Cook – Cook meat to the proper temperature. You cannot tell if it’s done simply by looking at it. The best way to determine if it is cooked is to use a thermometer.
  • Chill – Foods should be placed in the refrigerator within two hours. Placing food in several smaller containers can help maintain your refrigerator temperature.
Young woman protecting food in kitchen with foil
Young woman protecting food in kitchen with foil

During your get-together, make physical activity part of the fun! Go for a walk, put on some music and dance, play some games or try all three! Incorporating physical activity in a celebration activity links activity with children so they’ll continue the tradition in adulthood.

Family time for Thanksgiving dinner. Multi-generation members of african-american having fun singing and dancing with karaoke microphone.
Family time for Thanksgiving dinner.

Let’s get back to those leftovers and what you can do with them. Use the suggestions below as just that, suggestions. The suggestions might inspire you to do something completely different. That is just fine!

Leftovers and food waste often go hand in hand. If you don’t find a way to use those leftovers, whether it’s in another meal or by freezing, you need to discard them after a few days. For inspiration on what to do with those leftovers click on the link here

For more ways to use leftovers in quick and healthy ways use the Recipe Frameworks that our partner, Cooking Matter’s, developed. Click on the links below to be directed to the relevant recipe framework.

Every day is Taco Tuesday!

Breakfast for Dinner!

Use those leftover grains in a Grain Bowl!

Thanks for stopping by. It’s always good to see you. Before you leave, feel free to check out other pages on our site for more recipes, suggestions for physical activity, and for Broc coloring pages:

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