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Thanksgiving After-party.

December 2, 2014

The title implies that there is fun to be had after Thanksgiving meals.

There is not.

Its Monday, nearly five days after Thanksgiving. This is what my kitchen looks like right now.

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Gross. The good news is, the dirty dishes on my counter mean that we had tons of food on Thanksgiving. I’m incredibly grateful for that. It also means we have tons of leftovers. So many leftovers in fact, that we couldn’t eat them all before they spoiled.

I realized after Thursday that I need to be more intentional about not wasting food. Part of that can be solved by preparing smaller portions, the other part includes freezing leftovers when possible to get the most use out of them. Most of our Thanksgiving leftovers can, and were frozen for future use.

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I had a lot of trouble writing the letter “y” this evening. I have no idea what happened while I was writing on that bag. I may have been drinking a little while I was freezing this stuff. It’s been a long day, okay?

Anyway, turkey is a simple prepared meat to freeze, and shredded turkey can be used in almost every way shredded chicken can be. A word of caution though: turkey tends to warm up very dry after it’s cooled off or been frozen. For that reason, I plan on using the shredded turkey I froze in recipes like soup, chili or casseroles. Anything sauce or broth-based will bring frozen turkey back to life.

And no, I don’t bother separating white or dark meat. Because I’m lazy.

I froze mashed potatoes too this year. I measured out 1 cup servings, then using a gloved hand I molded each serving into a ball. I froze the balls on wax paper, then stored the balls in freezer bags. Now it will be easy to grab a cup or two of mashed potatoes for things like potato bread or potato pancakes.

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If you plan on reheating frozen russet potatoes for just a side of mashed potatoes, don’t bother. They are really disappointing reheated for that purpose. But they are good for potato-based baked goods like this recipe for cheesy potato pancakes at Just a Taste blog.

Additionally, I’m cubing up leftover ham for omelettes, casseroles and salads. Leftover rolls can be frozen for future meals too, and pumpkin puree is really useful frozen in ice cube trays then thrown in freezer bags once they get hard. My son loves to put a couple of pumpkin “ice cubes” in his oatmeal with pie seasoning and cinnamon for a pumpkin flavored oatmeal.

My friend Janice over at Clay Girl Sings came to our dinner with her husband. She did a HUGE favor for me and separated the meat from the turkey carcass, leaving me with a bunch of bones perfect for making into stock. Thanks to her, I am now the proud owner of a few bags of frozen turkey broth.

I’m finding that a lot of things can be frozen to extend the life of leftovers. Bread. Cheese. Milk. We’ve even frozen leftover slices of pizza for the respite sitter to warm up later in the toaster oven, that way she has an easy dinner to make for the kids.

I’ll freeze any and all leftovers from now on. If it doesn’t thaw out quite right, who cares? If you hadn’t of frozen it in the first place you probably just would have thrown it away anyhow. On the off chance something does freeze and re-heat properly, then you just learned something new and saved some money.

Freeze your leftovers. It’s kind of like an after party for your meals.

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