I was reading an article the other day that said about one third of the turkey meat bought for Thanksgiving is thrown out after. This doesn’t include the bones. That sounds bad, but not as bad as it could as U.S. food waste is at 40% overall. Even so, it’s a good target to practice at wasting less food.
It’s also important to understand that in the regular food supply, not all of that waste happens in the home. That number comes from the entire food stream, such as losses in transporting food to the store. That’s a bit different from the food waste that comes from throwing out leftover turkey.
1. Freeze the Excess
I don’t let my family get too tired of turkey. I freeze the extra meat first. That means I have quick supplies on those nights that I don’t particularly feel like cooking. This point usually comes after a few days. I just haul out the knife and start carving up whatever is still on the bird.
2. Send Leftovers Home With Guests
If you had company over, offer some of the leftover turkey for the ones who live close enough to take home. You can’t guarantee that they’ll eat it, but some will be quite glad to have it.
3. Toss It In the Skillet
You don’t have to serve plain turkey as leftovers. I find it goes very well with turmeric and cauliflower. Simmer the ingredients together on the stove, possibly with some other vegetables, and it’s pretty good. There are lots of leftover turkey recipes online.
4. Make Turkey Sandwiches
Kind of a classic here, I think. Bread, turkey, and whatever other toppings you enjoy can make an excellent sandwich.
5. Add to Salads
A bit of turkey goes well into a salad. Mix up your favorites, and it’s good for at home or on the go.
6. Turkey Soup
Even though the waste statistic doesn’t include the bones, I prefer to use them up. It’s very easy to make turkey soup. Get a large pot, put the bones in, add a lot of water and start simmering. I usually start mine in the morning, and take the bones out in the midafternoon, by which point the remaining meat comes off very easily.
I even have a bag of frozen vegetables to add in at the start for flavor, ones that would have otherwise gone bad before I got to them in the fridge. Chopping and freezing them means I have great vegetables for homemade soup of whichever variety. Just one more way to cut waste.
The turkey soup needs to be spiced up however you like, and have more things added, depending on your tastes. I find barley works well, as do potatoes or rice. Lots and lots of vegetables, usually beyond my “frozen just in time” supply.