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College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences


Extension Today: Holiday Leftovers

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Does this sound familiar! The fridge is full of food,
but I have no idea what to make with all of these leftovers!

Tim and Jenny raid the fridge in the Barbara Kunz Distelhorst Demonstration Kitchen at Waterman Farm on main campus to repurpose leftover turkey and some vegies into a pot pie and quesadillas. You too can pull out your leftovers, add in a few other ingredients, and make some delicious new meals for your hungry holiday crowd.

Having lots of leftovers after a big holiday meal can be a fun excuse to experiment in the kitchen! You can combine some foods to see how your own creation might taste; or you can start with a few suggestions from our kitchen! 

You can substitute turkey for chicken or another protein in many recipes. In this case, try this Easy Chicken Pot Pie recipe, with turkey and fresh leftover green beans for a new taste.

Some other ideas for using leftover turkey include Turkey Cranberry WrapChicken and Rice Soup, or even a good 'ole Leftover Turkey Casserole.

Another very important question - how long are leftovers even safe to eat?! Four days is the acceptable limit, say our pros. Read this Chowline article to learn more. The guidelines apply whether it's Thanksgiving or any other meal.

We have several free fact sheets available on Ohioline about why getting more of each food group in your diet is a good thing. We also have some oldies but goodies  always timely tips about how long you can store items in your fridge, freezing basics, etc.

USDA's site features many recipes, as well as great ideas for incorporating healthy proteins,  vegetables, and fruits into all of your meals.

The MyPlate program via USDA also provides valuable insight into many nutrition principles, as well as recipes you can use and adapt at home.

The Everyday Food and Fitness project book teaches 4-H members how to prepare healthy and hearty snacks using MyPlate as a guide, as well as how powerful healthy food can be for your body and mind. When they take this project, 4-H members learn how their own diet fits into the MyPlate food groups; and they try fun, easy recipes to help build their skills in the kitchen.

No matter what type of cool recipe you use or create for your leftovers, it's also a great way to avoid food waste. The Ohio State Food Waste Collaborative promotes the reduction and redirection of food waste as an integral part of a healthy and sustainable food system. Our researchers, practitioners, and students are working together to help reduce food waste at the consumer and household level. Brian Roe is the director of the Ohio State Food Waste Collaborative. He is the VanBuren Professor with the Department of Agricultural, Environmental and Development Economics in Ohio State's College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.

And what about the dates on those food labels, like milk's "expiration" date? Listen to Dr. Roe's quick tips about the "best by" quality dates you see posted on many foods.