The turKEY to Thanksgiving leftovers

Have Thanksgiving leftovers? Here are some ideas of what to do with them!

Graphic by Katie Fang ’23/Staff

Thanksgiving is a time where everyone looks forward to filling their plates with food while surrounded by friends and family. Due to COVID-19, dinner tables might have a few less guests than usual, but similar to past years, there will still be large amounts of waste and excess food. According to the US Chamber of Commerce Foundation, “In the US, we waste up to forty percent of our food each year.” They also mention that experts expect around 200 million pounds of turkey to be leftover and thrown out Thanksgiving. There are many simple ways to avoid waste, such as preparing space for leftovers, pacing yourself during dinner, turning them into new dishes, and donating. By following a few of these ideas, both the environment and community could experience a positive impact.
It is important to prepare for the night by making sure food storage options are available in your home. Plastic bags, tin foil, plastic wrap, and storage containers being accessible are important for a quick and easy cleanup. It is important to clean up promptly once the meal is finished, because leaving the food at room temperature for an extended period of time leaves it susceptible to bacteria growth that may spoil the food. It is also important to make room in the freezer and refrigerator of your home. There’s nothing worse than taking the time to cram your leftover food into the freezer and have it not even be able to close. Before Thanksgiving night, clear old and spoiled food out so that the new leftovers don’t unnecessarily go to waste because of a lack of storage space.
During the dinner, be sure to pace yourself. Always remember that your eyes are bigger than your stomach! Only take what you know you can eat, because you can always go back for seconds. Since you aren’t going to save the leftover food on your plate, don’t take excessive amounts of food that will have to be thrown away.
For all of the saved leftovers you will be reheating for the next week, there are so many easy and delicious ways to make new dishes from the old ones. You can transform baked sweet potato, squash, or pumpkin into a festive fall soup by blending it and adding a few spices. Turkey can be added to anything from salad to a breakfast burrito. Leftover cranberry sauce can be a substitute for jelly on a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, added to yogurt, or used to top a desert. When biscuits turn stale they can be ground up and used for breadcrumbs. These are only a few examples, and many recipes can be found by simply searching the internet.
Even though you were lucky enough to have a large and filling meal, not everyone is able to experience the same. Any unopened and untouched food can be donated to a food pantry or organization. There are also many shelters that accept food donations, and you can access a directory of them at foodpantries.org. Thanksgiving is about being grateful for what you have and giving back to your community and those who are less fortunate.