Eat Empowered

9 Nutritious Meals to Make with Thanksgiving Leftovers

By Lisa Leslie

Now that Thanksgiving Day is in the books, you might be wondering what the heck to do with all of those Thanksgiving leftovers in your fridge. Whether you were the host or a guest, chances are you ended up with at least some remnants from the biggest food holiday of the year. 

If you were a guest—lucky you—maybe you took home some of mom’s famous stuffing or shaved turkey for making sandwiches. If you were brave enough to host this year, you were likely left with whatever you couldn’t convince your guests to take home.

Either way, if you’ve got Tupperware and baggies of food taking up precious real estate in the fridge, you don’t want any of it to go to waste. 

If you’re looking for creative and healthy ways to use up what’s left of Thanksgiving dinner, we’ve got a few healthy recipes to help you clean out your fridge and turn those random leftovers into savory meals. 

Soup’s On!

Soup dishes are always great during the colder months, but they’re especially perfect for when you really don’t want to think about cooking anymore. The day after Thanksgiving (and for several days after that), you might just not feel like putting a lot of effort into cooking. We feel you and soups are the perfect solution.

Got leftover carrots, celery and onions? You’re well on your way to making this Creamy Mushroom And Farro Soup, a perfect recipe for lunch or dinner to use up some of the extra veggies in your fridge. Farro is high in protein and fiber, and carrots contain the beneficial carotenoids, lutein and zeaxanthin, which are shown to protect healthy cells in the eyes. You can also add in some leftover turkey and any other vegetables you have around.

White Bean Soup with Spicy Sausage is a great way to use all that leftover butternut squash. And the best part? This hearty soup is easy to prepare and provides an excellent source of protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

If you love chili, you’ll fall hard for this Salsa Chili. It’s a perfect way to use up some of that  leftover turkey. Just grind it up, add some kidney beans and cashews, a bit of salsa, a few spices, and voila!  You’ve got yourself a healthy bowl that’s also full of flavor.

Brunch, Anyone? 

While you may not feel like having a huge breakfast after practically eating yourself into a food coma, it’s important to get in your protein, just like any other day. Whether you eat first thing in the morning or decide to do brunch on Friday, these leftover recipes will hit the spot.

The best thing about this Simple Frittata is how flexible the ingredients are. It’s really up to you what to include. So grab whatever roasted or fresh veggies you have in the fridge, add in some protein and cheese, and you’re golden. 

Still have a house full of guests and not sure what to feed them? This super-healthy Sweet Potato Zucchini Bread will not disappoint. Plus, it’s dairy-free, gluten-free and vegetarian, so it’s perfect for anyone with food allergies or intolerances looking for breakfast options besides eggs. 

Sweet Potatoes, FTW! 

There are so many things you can make with leftover sweet potatoes, it’s almost impossible to run out of recipe ideas. Here are just a couple of our favorite side dishes to try with this uber tuber.

Buying too many sweet potatoes isn’t such a bad thing when you can turn them into these nutrient-dense Baked Sweet Potato Fries. They’re sure to be a new favorite. Remember to leave the skin on, as that’s where you’ll get most of the nutrients from.

If you’re looking for something a little heartier that also has a ton of protein, try this Sweet Potato and Sausage Bake, made with chicken sausage. It’s a quick, easy, and delicious way to use your leftover spuds. 

Leftover Favorites

We all have our favorite leftover recipes, but these two are always a big hit. They’re easy to make, and when you add in veggies and play with the ingredients a bit, the result is actually pretty healthy. 

First up: Thanksgiving Leftover Pizza. Swap out tomato sauce for cranberry, add whatever leftovers you’ve got for toppings, and you’ve got yourself a meal. Easy, healthy, delicious, and creative.

Another fun option? A healthy twist on the classic grilled cheese. 

We totally get that Turkey Grilled Cheese might not sound like the healthiest thing to make with your leftovers, but it can be. Take it easy on the cheese, swap out white bread with sprouted grain, sourdough, or rye, add in tomatoes and pesto for veggies, and, of course, pile on some turkey for protein. Now you’ve got an easy-to-make, balanced meal that everyone will love.

Eating leftovers will not only clear your overcrowded fridge, but it’s also a great way to have a more sustainable holiday, while also experimenting with some fun new recipes while you’re at it. We hope you enjoy your Thanksgiving and get to try out some different ways to use your leftovers.

(Image: Shutterstock)

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