One of the best things about holidays is getting together with family and having a huge feast. If you are of the frugal mindset, sometimes it can be overwhelming to spend all that money for just one meal.
Instead of eating endless meals of leftovers until you never want to see another slice of ham as long as you live, try preserving those leftovers and adding them to your preps. You can then repurpose them and serve them in an entirely different way, eliminating food fatigue.
There are 3 methods you can use to store your holiday leftovers: freezing, dehydrating and canning.
Nearly all leftovers can be successfully frozen and used in other meals. (For best results, use a vaccuum sealing system.) You can find Tess Pennington’s guidelines on freezing food HERE.
- Freeze vegetables in cheese sauce to be used later in a pureed soup. Cheesy cauliflower and cheesy broccoli soup are big hits in our household. Simply thaw the veggies in cheese sauce and add to some white potatoes boiled in water. Thin the mixture down as desired with milk and serve piping hot.
- Freeze chopped meat mixed with gravy as the basis for a future speedy stew. If you want, you can also add cooked carrots and roasted potatoes to the mixture.
- Freeze leftover dinner rolls. You can reheat them as needed to use as rolls or you can dice them finely and freeze them for use in stuffing.
- Freeze desserts in individual servings for brown bag treats. They’ll be thawed out and delicious by lunch time.
- Freeze single servings of casseroles, lasagnas, etc. You’ll have the best lunches in the office!
Another way to preserve your leftovers is by dehydrating them. Whether you have a commercial dehydrator (high end or budget) or you use your oven on a low setting, you can fill many jars with home-dried holiday leftovers. If you’re new at dehydrating, you can find detailed instructions HERE. (Use this handy rehydration chart for bringing them back to life!)
- Dehydrate the remainder of your veggie tray. I find that veggies dehydrate very nicely when they are coarsely grated with the biggest holes in the cheese grater. Be sure and squeeze the excess moisture out with a paper towel to cut down on the drying time.
- Dehydrate leftover turkey or ham to be added to casseroles and soups.
- Leftover fruit can be pureed and then dehydrated into homemade fruit roll-ups.
- Dehydrate mashed potatoes, then run them through the blender for instant potato flakes. You can use these to thicken soups or gravies naturally. (Note: I haven’t done this but it sounds like it would work very nicely.)
- Dehydrate leftover stuffing, then rehydrate (“Stovetop Stuffing”-style) with broth when it’s time to serve it.
Everyone knows that canning is my favorite way to preserve food. Most of these foods require pressure canning to be safely preserved. I’ve included some links to specific instructions.
- Can your ham leftovers and broth.
- Can homemade pork and beans with bits of leftover ham.
- Can your leftover turkey and broth.
- Can a soup made of broth, meat, and leftover veggies. (Click HERE to see how to can your own recipes.)
- Can some of your turkey and broth in the same manner as Chicken Needs Noodles Soup.
How do you make the most of a big holiday feast? What do you do with all those yummy leftovers? Please share in the comments section!