Freezer-friendly Meals with Turkey Leftovers
Are you excited for the holidays this year? I am! In fact, I’m already planning my holiday meal.
A whole roasted turkey is my favourite part of the holiday feast. My next favourite part? Turning turkey leftovers into nutritious and delicious meals.
Easy meal prep and time-saving strategies are essential for managing mealtimes and this tip is tops in my books: use turkey leftovers to make meals now and freeze them so they’re ready to go for busy days in the coming months. You will be so glad you did!
Here are 5 tasty, nourishing make-ahead meals featuring leftover holiday turkey:
If you just have a small amount of leftover holiday turkey, this recipe is ideal. It’s also a terrific recipe to use up leftover bits of veggies from the fridge, so it’s nutritious and helps to reduce food waste too. Bump up the frozen peas to 1 ½ cups for more fibre. I prefer a whole grain brown rice for its nutty taste but use whichever rice you prefer.
How to freeze: Spread cooled fried rice on a sheet pan and freeze. Once frozen, add meal-size portions to a reusable freezer bag or freezer-safe container. Freeze for up to 3 months.
To reheat: No need to defrost. Remove rice from the bag, reheat in the microwave, or on the stovetop or oven. You may need to add some moisture back when reheating – try water or broth.
Frittatas are my go-to for a quick and easy one-dish supper. The flavour combinations that work with turkey are endless, and it’s a great way to use up those veggies in your crisper. You can make this recipe in muffin tins for a frittata-to-go. Packed with protein from the turkey, eggs and cheese, this recipe will keep you well energized.
How to freeze: If you plan on freezing this dish, skip adding leafy greens to the recipe as they contain a lot of moisture and can make the dish soggy once reheated. Once cooked, cool completely to room temperature. I love freezing in individual portions in airtight, freezer-safe containers. Freeze for up to 3 months.
To reheat: Defrost overnight in the refrigerator. This recipe is best reheated in the oven. Cover in foil and warm at 350⁰F for about 20 minutes.
Fun Fact: I enjoy defrosted muffin tin frittatas cold; they’re terrific to pack for lunch.
In January, I crave healthy comfort food. This recipe checks that box for me. It’s the perfect way to enjoy leftover holiday turkey in a slightly creamy bowl of yum. I would add more veggies to this dish by stirring in an extra cup or two of any frozen veggies. It’s such an easy and economical way to boost nutrition.
How to freeze: If making this dish to freeze for a later meal, hold off on adding the topping. Follow the recipe to the step of baking then cover and freeze in a freezer-safe dish. Freeze for up to 3 months.
To reheat: Defrost overnight in the refrigerator. Cover and bake at 325⁰F for 40 minutes or until heated through. Prepare topping, sprinkle over top of casserole and bake uncovered for another 5-10 minutes.
Important to note: If you want to freeze this dish and put it right from the freezer to the oven, use a disposable casserole dish for freezing and baking. This way you won’t crack your ceramic one! (you’ll also need to increase cooking time)
Try something new with your turkey leftovers in this fragrant Spanish Turkey Stew. The recipe calls for dark or white turkey meat and I’m happy to tell you that both are nutritious. Both are lean and excellent sources of vitamin B12 – a nutrient you need for a healthy nervous system, including your brain.
Nutrition bonus: dark meat is a little extra special. It is richer in some nutrients including zinc and selenium – two nutrients that keep your immune system healthy and strong.
How to freeze: Allow the stew to come to room temperature. Once cooled, place in reusable freezer bags or freezer-safe containers and freeze up to 3 months.
To reheat: Thaw overnight in the fridge and reheat in a pot on the stove top.
If you’re a fan of turkey soup, you need to try this recipe. Packed with vegetables, whole grain-heart-healthy barley and lean Canadian turkey, this soup will warm you up and keep you satiated. This recipe calls for ground turkey, but just swap in your holiday turkey leftovers, cubed into perfect spoon-sized pieces.
How to freeze: Let your soup cool completely then freeze in freezer bags for easy, flat storage. Or divvy the soup in individual freezer safe containers for that quick grab-and-go lunch or dinner. Always leave an inch of space between the soup and lid. Freeze for up to 3 months.
To reheat: Reheat your frozen soup in the microwave in increments with constant stirring to avoid hot spots until warmed. Or on the stove, covered and stirring frequently until warm.
Happy, Healthy Holidays,