How to Use Your Holiday Leftovers

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By The Paula Deen Test Kitchen

Feeling over whelmed with all of your leftovers and wondering what to do with all that food?  Use these helpful tips to make the most of your holiday abundance.

First, be sure to buy proper storing containers and zip top baggies.  These will be helpful for your own storing purposes and also for packing up leftovers for your guests to take home. 

Freeze, freeze, and freeze! Freezing food is a perfect way to preserve your holiday leftovers.  And , you will be so happy on a busy day down the road when you remember you have a ready to go meal in the freezer.  Use these tips for keeping your frozen foods safe and fresh:

1. Be sure to freeze in airtight container or wrapping to prevent freezer burn.  Zip top freezer bags are the best, and are sure to get as much air out of the bag as possible before sealing.
2. Cool food completely before freezing.  Begin the cooling processes on the counter, and then finish it in the refrigerator before freezing.  Do not leave food at room temp longer than 2 hours.
3. Freeze in small portions for quick defrost.
4. Freeze within 3 days of cooking.
5. Don’t keep frozen meats or gravy longer than 4 months
6. Re-heat frozen pie in a 350 degree oven while still frozen for about 20-25 minutes
7. Defrost food in the refrigerator, microwave or cold-water bath (in a sealed zip top bag).  If using cold water bath change water every 30 minutes to keep it cold.

Make soups and stocks.  Leftover turkey carcasses and vegetables make wonderful homemade stocks, which freeze well for a rainy day.  Try one of these delicious soups to use up your leftover ham or turkey:

Turkey Minestrone
Yellow Squash and Ham Soup
Senate Bean Soup
Butter Bean Soup
Sweet Potato Date Soup

Make breakfast or lunch for all of your house guests. Everyone knows the leftover thanksgiving sandwich is almost better than the meal itself!  Fill your friends and family up with one of these next-day recipes:

Turkey Hash
Turkey Cranberry Monte Cristo
Turkey Potpie
Gobbler Cobbler Pie
Smashed Potato Pancakes
Ham Salad
Hungry Brothers Biscuits
Potato Casserole

Donate! And lastly, remember those less fortunate in your community.  Donate leftover canned food and non-perishable items to a food pantry in your area.  Or, make up a plate of food and deliver it to an elderly person in your neighborhood. 

Read More From Holidays and Entertaining.

Read More From Christmas.

Read More From Thanksgiving.

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Reader Comments:


On you aunt Peggy's sweet potato soufflé, I think someone mistakenly added baking potatoes to the ingredient list. Other than that I have tried it and it was yummy!

By Kolynn on November 30, 2013


Thanks for the tip. I have been doing that this past week. I find that I do not need to buy such big quantities of supplies as I am cooking for 2 now. I love to bake, but have scaled down the sizes of flour, spices, they do not go bad before I get to use them up. I am also putting dates on the packages. Have a blessed Christmas with family and friends. Peace and goodwill to you! Donna

By Donna Haffenden on November 29, 2013



By darlene dilimone on November 28, 2012

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Paula, I love watching you and your family. I miss seeing your show, I watched you everyday. My son lives in Charleston S.C. He took me to the Lady & Sons to eat. Oh my goodness! People are always telling me that I look just like the cooking lady Paula Deen. I always tell them that you are my hero. May God Bless You Mary Ann
Mary Ann Tharp in A Summer of Burgers on August 15, 2014 at 10:48 pm

Add a few spoonfuls of parmesan cheese to the flour and cornmeal breading and it kicks the tomatoes up another notch. Bev
in Crispy Fried Green Tomatoes on August 15, 2014 at 10:33 am

I just bought Paula's Peach Salad Dressing and wondered if anyone has a good recipe that they use it in?
Melissa in Taste Testing 101 on August 13, 2014 at 8:36 am

Congrats Bobby. Loved the family picture miss you Paula on TV will be watching online. Jack is getting big. Looks like his mom but Matt aka moose has your face. Your eyes cheeks hair even falls to his face like yours except to the left. Good luck on your next venture. You give us other 60+ yr women strength to move on. Keep up the good work.
Carol Bryant in Love at Last on August 11, 2014 at 6:12 pm