Leftovers that don’t have to be boring

With the Thanksgiving Holiday behind us, the leftovers are long gone by now. While most people are making turkey sandwiches and the like, I like to stretch my bird out as far as I can. That means taking advantage of all the parts that are left over to make meals that will go on for days. Don’t get me wrong, I love turkey sandwiches…especially with stuffing and mashed potatoes with gravy on them! Those are a personal favorite of mine.

What I like to do is take all the meat off the bird that I can right then and there on Thursday. I then package it accordingly in plastic zip-top bags to use for later.

The most important thing to do is separate light and dark meat and SAVE THAT CARCASS! You’re going to need that for making your own turkey stock…which in turn can be used for everything from the obvious, (like turkey soup) to the liquid in an amazing risotto or couscous dish. It is very versatile and freezes and keeps well. So next time you have a rice dish, or want to make an amazing stuffing or casserole, you can use your own turkey stock, one that you know all off the ingredients of.

There are so many more things you can do than just soup or stock, too. While most people will use the breast meat for their sandwiches, this will leave a lot of dark meat left over. This is a good thing for leftovers as the dark meat remains moist for a little longer than breast meat in my opinion and certainly a little goes a long way in soup, stew, chili, or my favorite: home made turkey pot pie!

The funny thing is…I do this with everything. Whole chickens, Boston butt, leg of lamb, hams, etc…I make a main dish one day, and then have three days worth of meals from the original dish. This is smart. It saves money; it saves time and saves you from having to create a whole new menu for a whole new day. It goes back to buying in bulk, when you can and when it makes sense.

I almost always buy chicken whole, when it’s on sale. It’s not just because I love cooking beer can chicken, (which I do!) it’s because I have a plan to use the whole bird. Beer can chicken breasts are amazing in so many things, like panini or huge sandwiches on French baguettes. But then you have all the other meat that can be made into tacos, super nachos or quesadillas, and white chicken chili!

Bone-in hams follows the same suit:

  • Ham dinner on day one.
  • Scalloped potatoes with ham as a side for day two.
  • Ham, cheddar and ale soup for day three.

I understand the doldrums of eating the same thing day after day and that’s why I try to be creative and think of something that is completely different, yet with similar ingredients. Your imagination is the limit. You’ll definitely be able to stretch your dollar embracing leftovers, and who doesn’t love that?

Here is a sample list of staple leftover dishes that I frequently make:




Chili (red or white)

Pot pie


Whole chicken or large chicken pieces: (bone-in, skin-on)




Super nachos


Egg rolls

Stir fry


Chicken and dumplin’s



Scalloped potatoes with ham

Cheddar and ale soup with ham stock

Cheesy hashbrowns with onions and ham (Waffle House style!)



Smoked lamb soft tacos with vinaigrette slaw

Potato soup with leeks

Let me know some of your favorite leftover dishes!



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About 34BBQ

I am here to share my experiences in the culinary outdoors...and to get people grilling all year 'round! I am "culinary enthusiast" who studied the arts at Culinary and Wine Institute - University of South Carolina. I love food photography and BBQ and I like to cook using my outdoor grills as much as I can. -Jay

2 responses to “Leftovers that don’t have to be boring”

  1. wendy@chezchloe says :

    I like the way you think. I boiled up my carcass for turkey rice soup. cheers… wendy

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