Mike Willison
November 26, 2014 | Mike Willison

Wading Through a Sea of Leftovers: How to cope on the day after Thanksgiving

It is now 2:30pm on the day after Thanksgiving and you’ve just finally put the 11th load of dishes into the dishwasher, tucked the good gravy boat back into the deep corner of the pantry, and located what you hope is the very last half-full plastic tumbler of red wine (in the bathtub, no less). The refrigerator is bursting with leftovers in a zoo of Tupperware containers and there is even a lidded pot on the back porch. All of the relatives have left for Duluth, Topeka, and Toledo, and your kids and spouse are already clamoring in loud and desperate voices for “anything but turkey.”  Here are some helpful hints to ensure a happy and swift return to normalcy:

Thanksgiving Day:

Buy a dozen large Tupperware containers and make all of your guests a to-go goodie box of the “Greatest Hits of Thanksgiving” while cleaning up.  This makes storage easier and prevents your having to read any further provided everyone actually takes their parcel (along with the dish they brought the sweet potatoes over in).


  • If you somehow have white meat left, it will no doubt be dry and utterly useless. So, make a Cuban sandwich with it and there will be joy.  Alternate: Turkey Reuben
  • White meat can also be chopped up and made into a delicious Cobb salad replacing the chicken with turkey if the mood in the house is sluggish.
  • A mix of white and dark meat? My mother’s Turkey Tetrazzini got us through the very darkest of days and seemed to improve as the weeks and months wore on. The shelf life is measured with carbon-dating. 
  • Mostly dark meat and a couple of sides can be made into a delicious mixture for the general stuffing of things into other things, depending on your level of kitchen expertise. Turkey, peas, mixed vegetables, mushrooms, even a bit of the old green bean casserole, can be mixed together and stuffed into a samosa, a pupusa, an empanada, or even a calzone. Find some pastry, wrap it up, and bake it.
  • Bones: roast them and then heave them in a pot with vegetables and all of the half-full bottles of wine and make soup, stock, jook, or broth.

Sweet Potato & Marshmallow:

Green Bean Casserole:

  • This does not age well. The crispy onions get disappointingly mushy, the mushrooms get gloppy, and the fun wanes like day 2 with a pet rock. You have only 2 choices: Use as per above as a stuffable or dispose of with shame. Read: don’t even think of composting this.

Stuffing/ Dressing:

  • If done properly, there will be no leftovers. I can’t help you if you don’t understand this.

Cranberry sauce/ Regular potatoes/ Roasted vegetables:

  • Have brunch. Add waffles, pancakes, eggs, sparkling wine, and orange juice.


Have a Thanksgiving leftover emergency? Post your questions and comments below.


Jenny's Gravatar
@ Nov 26, 2014 at 11:51 AM
Fun tips... What I really need though is to know how to get left over stuffing. Mine always disappears too, and it's my favourite part! I'll think of something. Happy Thanksgiving, Mike.

Jenny's Gravatar
@ Nov 26, 2014 at 10:56 PM
Great tips - especially the to-go box. Mostly I want to know how to have left over stuffing. Mine always disappears too. I'll think of something. Happy Thanksgiving, Mike!

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