I don’t know about you but we have been cooking for weeks to get ready for the next few days. We will have far more food than we can use over the next few days and I am sure we will tire of all the sweets and rich foods after a few days.
Tired of turkey or ham already? A bit of planning ahead and the waste from your holiday dinners can be minimal and you can have great dinners (or lunches) with the leftovers in the freezer for the next few months!
Bones from turkeys and chickens can be cleaned of all the meat and then boiled in water to make a delicious stock that is great for soups. Make it in a large stock pot or your slow cooker. Here is my recipe for Overnight Slow Cooker Stock (click for link to blog post).
Make sure you have plenty of small plastic containers (preferably clear that you can write the date AND what is in the container on), zip top bags, and waxed paper (for separating slices of meat when freezing). A Sharpie marker or other permanent marker and masking tape to label all your leftovers.
Clear your freezer of any miscellaneous items that can no longer be identified. You will want to use all your leftovers within two to three months. Make sure you date everything so there is never a question of is this any good or what is this mystery package.
Remember to make sure everything is cooled before freezing. Chill in the refrigerator before placing in bags or on trays to freeze.
- Breads and rolls can be frozen whole in plastic wrap or bags to be grated into homemade bread crumbs or made into breakfast casseroles.
- Slice your leftover meats into smaller packages to use in sandwiches, soups or casseroles. I like to make a couple of bags with small pieces for casseroles or soups and then a bag with larger slices for sandwiches.
- Hearty raw veggies can be frozen for use later in soups and casseroles or to toss in a stir fry. Broccoli, peppers, carrots, anything you really use for a hearty dip are great for this.
- Leftover mashed potatoes can also be frozen. You can make them into a casserole or freeze them flat in plastic bags to make extra room. Add cream cheese or sour cream if they are a bit watery when you reheat them after thawing.
- Cheese can also be frozen. It will affect the texture of it but rather than thrown it away use it in a casserole or soup! Freeze it in a zip top bag and press all the air out before freezing.
- Cookie dough, cookies, unfrosted cakes, and candies are great to freeze and have on hand over the next couple months. They are best frozen unfrosted and separated by waxed paper.
So, are you ready to tackle those leftovers the next few days?