What to do with Christmas Leftovers

9 Ideas for Christmas Leftovers

Each year we go out and buy a bunch of food for Christmas, usually too much because we want to treat ourselves. But what do you do with the leftovers? This will depend on what food you have but here are some suggestions for the most common things. 

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1. Evaluate What You Have

Look at all the food. What needs to be eaten quickly? Can anything you have been frozen and used later? For example, meats can be portioned and frozen. Some fruits can (and they make great smoothies). Cakes and similar can be frozen and used within a month.

When I do this, I portion everything out to either individual serves or into meal size serves. This way it isn’t all frozen together and won’t have to be used at once because it had to be defrosted all at once. 

2. Make Note of What Wasn’t Popular

This will help you next year as you will know what to get less of or not buy at all. Seeing what went quickly, reviewing how much waste or leftovers there are and making a note enables you to plan better next year. 

What to do with Specific Foods

Now you know what you have and have portioned it out to freeze or use in order so things don’t go off, here are suggestions on what to do with the actual food. 

3. Ham

There are 25 ideas for leftover ham here. Risotto, pizza, pasta bake, calzone, salad and more are all options for ham. Have some the first few days after Christmas but freeze the rest in portions because you will quickly get sick of it. 

4. Roast Meats

Provided they aren’t covered in gravy, you have quite a few options here. From sandwiches through to curries. Read 29 meals from leftover chicken for ideas on what you can do. Many recipes requiring fresh meat can be substituted with cooked meat and it reduces the cooking time. 

One recipe that was always popular is dip pasta. I’d buy chunky dips when on sale, mix it through hot pasta along with a handful or so of leftover roast meat. It was so quick and easy plus I was always asked for the recipe. 

5. Fruit

Use it in smoothies, make a pie, cake, muffins, crumble, any dessert. Bananas can be frozen and pureed to make a healthy ice cream. Stew up some of the fruit for use on porridge or muesli. Get creative. The type of fruit will determine what you do as not all fruits go well in smoothies but the day after Christmas most would be great as a juice smoothie such as Boost. 

Stone fruits, banana, pineapple, berries etc freeze well though for smoothies. Stone fruits and pineapple are also great to grill for salads or burgers and some fruits are delicious with a marinade to toss in a salad. 

‘Otai can be made from leftover watermelon. This is one of my kids favourite drinks and comes from Tonga (they are part Tongan). It has been made for numerous events and people line up for it. 

6. Salad

When I was a young mum I remember hearing someone say no one likes day old salad. I quickly realised if you serve salads with the dressing on the side, this isn’t an issue. Because then the salad is simply prepped veggies. Of course, not all salads are this way e.g. pasta salad, coleslaw etc. 

However, if you store them correctly, some salad can last a day or two. Depending on the type of salad and what you use with it, you might be able to use it in a stir fry e.g. if it is spinach based instead of lettuce. 

7. Vegetables

If it roast veggies they go great on pizza, in risotto and similar. Most veggies can be thrown into a curry, bolognese, lasagne or similar. Plus, many of these can be cooked with the leftovers then frozen as a ready made meal for later. 

When it comes to veggie sticks used for dip, blitz them and add them to any mince dish e.g the 28 ones here. Or chop them to use in stir fry and any other recipe requiring vegetables. 

Even if they are looking a little sad they can be used in these dishes. 

8. Desserts and Similar

Anything containing too much cream or custard might not freeze e.g store bought custard can be frozen but will be a slightly different texture when defrosted. Homemade custard cannot be frozen. Baked goods freeze fine and can be used to make cake pops or similar for New Year’s Eve or future parties. 

9. Bread

Turn it into bread crumbs, croutons or freeze it. You can use bread for so many things, even if it’s stale. Turn it into garlic bread, make toasties, use it as a base for quiche or mini breakfast muffins. 

Basically, look at what you are using and how you can turn it into something new so it doesn’t go to waste and you don’t feel like you are eating the same foods on repeat.

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