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How To Use Holiday Leftovers In Your Meal Prep

December 16, 2020 3 min read

How To Use Holiday Leftovers In Your Meal Prep

The holidays can be challenging for a number of reasons when you’re trying to be healthy. Whether it’s the traveling, the stress, or the sweets, there are always obstacles around this time of year that can keep us from reaching our goals. 

Of course, the most obvious obstacles for weight loss during the holidays are those big, hearty meals that everyone looks forward to while traveling in the Inland Empire. Not only do those calorie bombs make Thanksgiving and Christmas day hard, but there’s also another hidden challenge to deal with: leftovers! 

Having leftovers around can take your holiday celebrations from one meal to several days, and keeping them around is usually what leads to that dreaded “winter weight.” One splurgy meal isn’t too bad, but several …. Is a little worse. 

Luckily, you can get ahead of this challenge by planning ahead and using the leftovers as part of your meal prep. You’ll avoid waste and get to celebrate all week long, without the negative effects. Here are a couple of ideas to keep in your back pocket this year: 

Turkey 

Turkey is the quintessential Thanksgiving food, and there’s usually a lot of it. Luckily, turkey itself is a relatively lean protein that can be used in a couple of different ways in your meal prep: 

  • Turkey chili: To keep the festivities going in a warm seasonal meal, throw some crushed tomatoes, beans, chopped veggies, and spices into a slow cooker and top it off with your shredded turkey leftovers. 
  • Turkey salad: Throw together a quick salad with lettuce, dried cranberries, diced apples, and reheated turkey leftovers. This pairs great with a citrus or poppyseed dressing! 
  • Turkey sandwich: Use your turkey as the lean protein in a lean but satisfying sandwich with plenty of dark greens, tomatoes, and light swiss cheese. For extra umph, throw the sandwiches into a panini press when you’re ready to eat to make them warm and toasty.  
  • Turkey and veggie “noodles”: If you’ve got a hankering for carbs but don’t want the calories, use a mandolin or veggie peeler to slice zucchini and carrots into ribbons, sautee with some olive oil, and toss in your leftover turkey and the pasta sauce of your choice. 

Mashed Potatoes 

Forever one of the most loved carbs on the table, mashed potatoes have a bit of a bad reputation as a not-so-healthy food choice. Once the Thanksgiving dinner is over, though, you can use them in appropriate portions for healthy and filling meal. 

  • Shepard’s Pie: Use a lean ground meat like beef or turkey, add in a ton of veggies, and top it all off with a reasonable portion of your leftover mashed potatoes for a comforting favorite to snuggle up with. 
  • Air Fried Potato Bites: Take portion control to the next level by dividing your potatoes into bite-sized pieces and throwing them into the air fryer to crisp up. Dip in some Greek yogurt and seasonings, but be careful to eat just a couple! 

Stuffing 

Another fan favorite at the Thanksgiving table, stuffing can be used for more than just a complementary turkey side. 

  • Meatballs: If you just love the turkey and stuffing pairing, add some ground turkey and mix them up into lean meatballs to be eaten over pasta or rice throughout the week. 
  • Stuffing “cakes”:You can put your air fryer to use again here. Mash your stuffing up into flat “cakes” and crisp them up in the air fryer. They can be used as your “carb” side in other lean meals throughout the week. 
  • Croutons:Section your stuffing into bite-sized pieces and crisp them up in the oven or air fryer, then use it as a savory “crouton” in your weekly meal prep salads! 

Pumpkin pie filling 

Yes, really! If you have extra pumpkin puree lying around from your baking endeavors, you can take this classic flavor and repurpose it as part of a healthy meal plan! 

  • Pumpkin soup:Substitute coconut milk or Greek yogurt for heavy cream and you can have a delicious and filling seasonal soup. 
  • Pumpkin muffins: If you really love the sweet side of pumpkin, bake a tin of pumpkin muffins and use it as part of your meal prep every day of the week. 
  • Pumpkin bread:Similarly, you can bake your pumpkin puree into a low-sugar bread for a more diet-friendly meal prep snack. 

Thanksgiving leftovers don’t have to be scary! Approach these foods just like you would another other foods in your meal prep planand incorporate them into healthy servings to make the festivities last all week long. 


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