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How to Be Rid of Holiday Leftovers without the Guilt of Throwing It All Away

Updated on November 29, 2011

This is one eighth of the table when I eat with my family.

Enough aluminum and propane to roof a barn and then burn it down.
Enough aluminum and propane to roof a barn and then burn it down.

I will forcibly remove my own stomach if I must be subject to another night of leftover soul food. My family can cook their tuchas' off, but jeez. Did we really need 50 pounds of food? That is by no means an exaggeration!

Now I feel completely obligated to eat all of the food that's there so that it won't go to waste. I left my Aunt's house this past Thanksgiving with 2 plates, stacked high with food--not including my dessert plate, which showed no signs of the bottom of the plate. Lawd! Smothered turkey wings, fried turkey, regular turkey, the only 2 green things (collards and green beans), potato salad and chicken salad, brown rice and yellow rice, lasagna, brisket, beef and macaroni and cheese. And those are just the foods that I eat!Moreover, there were 3 hams (2 of which we never touched), yams, great northern beans, hog maws, pig feet, dumplins…have mercy.

If you're anything like me, you bore easily of the same old food every night. Yes, its selfish. Yes there are starving children in Africa that would love to have the food stockpiled in my fridge. But I am here to say that Yes, I have tossed out food that I know I won't eat. It's saddening--but I'm American, and No, I don't understand when to say No thank you, when to stop eating, or what portion control means. At all.

Luckily for us, I am pretty good at creating various dishes by haphazardly arranging random ingredients, thereby creating a masterpiece! My main ingredient is typically cheese, which I feel can make any meal better, in spite of my lactose intolerance. But hey, what doesn't kill you, only makes you stronger, right?


Chicken/Turkey/Some kind of meat Tacos:

This is your opportunity to split up that turducken and give it a chance at a second life! Honestly, I keep tortillas and salsa on deck for any and all occasions. Leftover eggs from breakfast and some sausage, add cheese and roll it up! Or pieces from the large turkey wing you took home, tomato, guac, add cheese and roll it up. In essence, take a meat, add a side, and roll it up. Et voila! Brand new meal.

Shepard's Pie

Necessary ingredients to include: frozen grand's biscuits, some meat, some cheese, some rice or mashed potatoes. This could be a good place for that macaroni and cheese! Take a casserole dish, something that can go in the oven. Maybe you like to hoard those metal pie pans or cake pans. This is where those come in handy (sort of). Put meat on the bottom of your smallish round (or square) dish. Then, add the leftover mashed potatoes, or rice or something starchy. The cheese comes next. Finally place the biscuits on top, covering the surface. Bake in the oven at whatever your preferred temperature (I'm a fan of 350) and wait until the biscuits have browned. Remove, wait, and eat!

Faux Lasagna

Again, this is good for those metal pan hoarders. Remember to throw it away once you're done! Or even good for those people who actually made the investment in the Pyrex casserole dishes. Those come in very handy at a time like this! Layer some type of ground meet at the bottom. Perhaps you had a BBQ style Holiday with turkey burgers, I don't know. Shred those down and make them your base. Meatballs work here too, or any kind of meat really. Some type of pasta should come next and add a layer of cheese. Keep layering in a casserole dish until you run out of room and pop it in the oven. Wrapped in foil. The only catch, the pasta needs to be cooked. Unless it actually is lasagna, or so I've been told. I say, go the safe route and cook all of your food. That's just me.

Chicken Salad or Potato Salad Salad

Grab some lettuce, tomato, cucumber, some carrot, a sprig of something leafy and green and your fave dressing. Then put the other salad on top of your salad. Simple, quick. But it's definitely not being consumed in the same form. 'Ah! There's the rub!'

That's a Shakespeare quote, if you missed it. No? Okay, moving on.

Barbeque/Fried/Rotisserie Chicken/Ham/Turkey Potato Baker

Got this idea from a restaurant in Birmingham. Works like this: get an unused potato, bake it up, then put meat and cheese on top. Perhaps even some corn or some kind of lentil--that green bean casserole could be put to good use here! (God knows it serves no other purpose.)

You mush all your food together anyway on your plate, why not do it on top of a baked potato? And for those that like your food separate on your plate--you're weird. It all goes to the same place. Help your stomach sack and get it there faster?

Remember kiddies. Slow down on the chewing…you're not an animal!


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