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How to Use Your Holiday Leftovers

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Feeling overwhelmed with all of your leftovers and wondering what to do with all that food? Use these helpful tips to make the most of your holiday abundance.

First, be sure to buy proper storing containers and zip top baggies. These will be helpful for your own storing purposes and also for packing up leftovers for your guests to take home.

Freeze, freeze, and freeze! Freezing food is a perfect way to preserve your holiday leftovers. And, you’ll be so happy on a busy day down the road when you remember you have a ready-to-go meal in the freezer. Use these tips for keeping your frozen foods safe and fresh:

1. Be sure to freeze in an airtight container or wrapping to prevent freezer burn. Zip-top freezer bags are the best, but be sure to get as much air out of the bag as possible before sealing.
2. Cool food completely before freezing. Begin the cooling processes on the counter, and then finish it in the refrigerator before freezing. Do not leave food at room temp longer than 2 hours.
3. Freeze in small portions for quick defrost.
4. Freeze within 3 days of cooking.
5. Don’t keep frozen meats or gravy longer than 4 months.
6. Re-heat frozen pie in a 350-degree oven while still frozen for about 20-25 minutes.
7. Defrost food in the refrigerator, microwave or a cold-water bath (in a sealed zip-top bag). If using cold water bath, change water every 30 minutes to keep it cold.

Make soups and stocks. Leftover turkey carcasses and vegetables make wonderful homemade stocks, which freeze well for a rainy day. Try one of these delicious soups to use up your leftover ham or turkey:
Turkey Minestrone
Yellow Squash and Ham Soup
Senate Bean Soup
Butter Bean Soup
Sweet Potato Date Soup

Make breakfast or lunch for all of your house guests. Everyone knows the leftover Thanksgiving sandwich is almost better than the meal itself! Fill your friends and family up with one of these next-day recipes:
Turkey Hash
Turkey Cranberry Monte Cristo
Turkey Pot Pie
Gobbler Cobbler Pie
Smashed Potato Pancakes
Ham Salad
Hungry Brothers Biscuits
Potato Casserole

Donate! And lastly, remember those less fortunate in your community. Donate leftover canned food and non-perishable items to a food pantry in your area. Or, make up a plate of food and deliver it to an elderly person in your neighborhood.

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