How to Make Holiday Leftovers Work for You

by Matt Weik

A wholesome feast is the highlight of the holiday season (ok, let’s be real… we all can’t wait for the dessert). But there’s just something special when families get together and celebrate by having a bunch of food and gather around enjoying everyone’s company — even though we all have that one uncle who you can’t stand. But, once the holidays are over, you’re left with a bunch of holiday leftovers.

We always want to make sure that there is enough food for everyone, which usually means a ton of food that is left, and you’re wondering what to do with it all. Re-heating the same food over and over can get dull, so I have some solutions for how you can breathe life into your holiday leftovers and make them a little healthier so that you can get back on track with your nutrition plan.

It should be noted that you don’t need to take the suggestions below and only apply them to holidays. You can take the same ideas and concepts and apply them to your everyday meal plans.

Whoever said leftovers are boring simply isn’t thinking outside of the box. These creative meal ideas will hopefully channel your inspiration to make mealtime interesting so that you can get through all of your leftovers without having to throw anything away.

It’s time to get creative in the kitchen and do some experiments with your leftovers!

1. The Supreme Leftover Sandwich

Leftover sandwiches are almost as great of a tradition as the holiday feast itself. Using things like cold slices of turkey with a thin layer of delicious gravy swiftly tucked between two slices of toasted bread — effortless yet mouth-watering.

Such a combo works as a boost of energy to get you through the challenging first day back at work, knowing a leftover sandwich faithfully awaits you as lunchtime arrives. Plus, you get some quality protein in the meal to help feed your muscles.

To further make it a healthy leftover meal, you can put on whatever you want, like avocado, cheese, or even some green vegetables like spinach if you don’t want the gravy.

2. Brown Rice Power Bowl

Turkey seems to be a pretty common item when it comes to holiday leftovers. You get a big bird and then look at it, questioning if anyone actually ate anything. But what about some leftover roasted veggies? If you have some, make yourself a healthy brown rice power bowl with some salad ingredients in it. It is one of the healthiest leftover recipes you can have, so you can feel good about having that extra slice (or three) of leftover pie or chocolate cake.

But the combination of turkey, brown rice, and vegetables is a healthy meal you can easily warm up and enjoy for lunch or dinner. Add in a little dressing, sauce, or other condiments if you wish to spruce it up even further.

3. Leftover Pizza

This is for all the pizza lovers out there! This one’s for those who are looking for a twist on the leftover turkey sandwich. Let’s think about using gravy, mashed potatoes, turkey, cranberry sauce, and maybe even a little stuffing if you want. Put all of them on a leftover piece of soft bread, and you have a leftover pizza to enjoy! Now, you have to use your imagination a little bit here, but what if you didn’t?

If you have refrigerated pizza dough, you can substitute that in place of homemade dinner roll or bread and have yourself an actual pizza crust. If you want to experiment with more filling, turn your pizza into a calzone with some spoonful of ricotta. Toss it in the oven and get ready to be wiping the drool from your mouth. Have a side for dipping, and voila!

4. Leftover Salad

Are you hungry for a healthy, no-cook meal with the help of holiday leftovers? You can never go wrong with a salad. Get some lettuce, vegetables, and leftover ham, turkey, or chicken, and turn your holiday leftovers into a tasty salad.

Salads are super easy to make if you are on the go and looking for something lighter, which is important after a big holiday feast where you want to go a little lighter on the caloric intake.

5. A Little Bit of Everything

This one’s unique! After every holiday meal or family get-together, there are always tiny bits of everything left in your fridge. It’s just a couple of bites and not enough to make a full meal. What usually happens? It sits there until you finally throw all of it away. Don’t throw it away! You can make a snack plate with little bits of everything on it, and it’ll be like enjoying the holiday all over again.

Add the protein source to your plate, maybe some cut-up vegetables, a few crackers, some cubes of cheese… you get the idea.

Now get out there and be creative with your holiday leftovers! Or any leftover you have from meals throughout the week.

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