Turkey Leftovers And Other Frugal Ways

You can, of course, just reheat your leftovers and have another mini Thanksgiving meal. But sometimes you need to spread the turkey and other ingredients a lot further, and that’s when recipes using leftovers are helpful.

I posted several recipes we use with leftover turkey (or chicken) over at Frugal Hacks this weekend. Here are a few more dishes to make using Thanksgiving leftovers, and not just the turkey:

Shepherd’s Pie
Put a layer of leftover meat in the bottom of a pan- the size pan you use will be determined by things like how many mouths you have to feed and how many leftovers you have, especially mashed potatoes. I have used leftover poultry, leftover ground beef, meat loaf, and even leftover chopsuey

Spread a layer of leftover cooked vegetables over the top of this- green beans, corn, mixed vegetables such as peas and carrots, peppers and diced onions, whatever you have that goes well with your meat.

Top this with a generous layer of leftover mashed potatoes. You can stir in more milk and melted butter if you like (sour cream is also yummy), or you can dot the mashed potatoes with butter for a golden color when it all comes out. Season to taste.

Put this in the oven and bake at around 400 until it’s hot all the way through and the edges of the potatoes are lightly golden.

Turkey Tetrazzini
Basically, you cook up a batch of spaghetti (or linguini) noodles. Meanwhile reheat your turkey gravy, thinning it out a bit with some milk, and add some Parmesan cheese.
Dice leftover turkey and stir it into the gravy/sauce. When the noodles are done, drain them and stir the sauce into the spaghetti.

You want measurements? Can’t do it, and it doesn’t much matter, but if you have about twice as much turkey as you do parmesan cheese, and more gravy/sauce than you do turkey, that’s good. But it’s pretty forgiving no matter what you do.

Homemade Turkey Helper

First some preaching- it makes me gnash my teeth in frustration when I am reading an article or website about living frugally and I see people recommend Hamburger Helper (the boxed convenience food). This is NOT a frugal meal. It’s a convenience food, and there’s nothing wrong with that (in moderation), but it hurts me to see spending more money than necessary recommended as a way to save money. You can make a very similar dish and twice as much of it for the same price or less.

For instance:
I adapted from the More With Less Cookbook. It serves 8
Heat together
2-4 cups of diced cooked turkey (or saute 1 1/2 pound ground beef)
2 t. salt
1 t. pepper
2 T. onion, very finely diced

Add to the meat mixture 1/2 to 1 cup of canned or frozen vegetables your family likes- this can be peas, mushrooms, cooked potatoes, corn, cooked turnips or parsnips- whatever your people will eat and you have on hand. Use the leftovers from Thanksgiving.
1 1/2 2 cups leftover gravy (thinned if need be)

Meanwhile, cook 2 cups of dry noodles, or use four cups of cooked noodles you have on hand from a previous meal (leftover macaroni and cheese sounds nasty, but actually, it’s quite good in this).

If you like, mix the cooked noodles in with the hot meat mixture and sprinkle with about 2/3 cup of cheese, cheddar, parmesan- whatever you have and your family will like.


You can make a very different dish, only instead of gravy, use 1 1/2 cups canned tomatoes (stewed, crushed, whole, chopped, whatever).
Stir this well, mashing down the tomatoes if you need to , and continue to heat.

Turkey Walnut Salad
This is a cold salad, lovely for a brunch, and perhaps better suited for warmer months, but we like it:

3 cups cooked brown rice
2 cups cooked turkey, diced
1/2 cup celery, diagonally sliced
1/4 cup pineapple chunks, drained
1/4 cup mandarin oranges, drained
1/4 cup water chestnuts, drained and thinly sliced (optional)
1/4 cup scallions, thinly sliced (we usually just use green onions)
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup lowfat lemon yogurt (we’ve used plain yogurt with a splash of lemon juice and we never buy low fat yogurt. Bleah)
1/2 cup mayonnaise (you can use low fat, but I don’t see why)
1 tsp. lemon rind, grated
1/2 tsp. curry powder
6 cups of leafy greens- any sort of lettuce, spinach, sprouts, etc.

Directions: Combine the first 8 ingredients in a large bowl. Whisk together next 4 ingredients. Add the dressing to the salad mixture and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate. To serve, spoon 1 cup of salad over 1 cup of the lettuce leaves. Because this recipe serves 6 we doubled the above ingredients (except the lettuce) when making it for our family.

Turkey With Winter Vegetables makes use of things that are more in season after Thanksgiving. This recipe adapted from Mom’s Best One-Dish Suppers: 101 Easy Homemade Favorites, as Comforting Now as They Were then by Andrea Chessman

2 potatoes, peeled and diced
1 rutabaga, peeled and diced
2 Tablespoons oil
3 cups diced cooked turkey
2 leeks, sliced
2 carrots, diced
2 minced cloves garlic
2 cups broth
1/2 t. dried thyme
1 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch dissolved in 1/4 cup water
chopped fresh parsley

Combine the potatoes and rutabaga, put in saucepan with enough water to cover, bring to a boil just until tender, drain and set aside.
Combine the cooked turkey, leeks, carrots, and garlic and saute in warm oil for thre eminutes, add the potatoes, rutabaga, broth, adn thyme, simmer for a few minutes.

Add the cornstarch mixture and smmer for five minutes more, just until thickened. Season to taste. Sprinkle with parsley.

Turkey Empanadas
Equal amounts of chopped up cooked chicken or turkey and grated cheddar or jack cheese (or combination)
2 or 3 cans of diced green chiles, or to taste.

5 cups flour
1 1/4 cup cornmeal
2 1/2 teaspoons of salt

Cut in 1 1/3 cups plus 3 tablespoons of shortening. Sprinkle with 3/4 cup of water. Stir this with a fork until a dough forms. Roll the dough out, cut in large circles (I use a tart pan as a template and trace it with a knife. Spoon some filling on one side of the circle, fold over the other half and seal all around the edge with a fork edge. Put them on a pan, brush with milk, sprinkle with cornmeal for added crunch.

Bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes, or unti golden brown.

I believe this makes enough to feed four people, depending on appetites. I generally triple it.

Stuffing Dumplings


two cups of stuffing

3 lightly beaten eggs

sage or other herbs, chopped (a couple teaspoons fresh, one teaspoon dried)

1 teaspoon minced garlic

Combine in bowl, mixing well (you may want to use a plastic bag over your hands and knead it. Shape into balls and drop into simmering soup (or put a greased steamer basket on top of soup and drop gently into basket)- cover with a lid and cook until dumplings are hot through center.

Mix stuffing with diced apples and nuts, then use it to stuff acorn squash, bake as usual.

Use leftover cranberry sauce in cranberry bread, muffins, on toast, combine with cream cheese and spread on toast or roll up in pancakes.

Leftover rolls:

Use leftover bread/buns/rolls for apple charlotte– scroll down for the recipe, or bread strata for a main dish (just dice it up, and you could stretch it out with added leftover stuffing as well)

You could also make basic bread pudding with leftover rolls.

Or just save them in your freezer and use them when you next make a receipe that calls for bread crumbs. For seasoned bread crumbs, grate the bread into crumbs and then brown it in the skillet with a bit of oil and seasonings.

Reposted at The Common Kitchen

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