UACES Facebook Having a Plan Allows You to Turn Leftovers into Planned-Overs
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Having a Plan Allows You to Turn Leftovers into Planned-Overs

You can continue to enjoy the leftovers by planning a variety of after holiday meals using your leftover turkey. All it takes is a little know how.

Nashville, Ark. – Thanksgiving Day in America is a time of offer thanks, a time of family gatherings, and of course, those wonderful holiday meals. It is a time of turkey, dressing, pumpkin pie and all the other foods and traditions that go along with it. And of course, there is the pleasure of having leftover turkey to enjoy after the meal. If you are like me though, after a couple of turkey sandwiches, I am ready for something different.

You can continue to enjoy the leftovers by planning a variety of after holiday meals using your leftover turkey. All it takes is a little know how.

Start by following basic food safety rules after the holiday meal has been eaten. The first rule of thumb is to debone the turkey and refrigerate all leftovers in shallow containers within 2 hours of cooking. Why just two hours? Because bacteria that cause food poisoning can multiply to undesirable levels on perishable food left at room temperature for longer than that.

If you choose to save the carcass for soup later, be sure to refrigerate or freeze it in a large zip-top baggie or other freezer safe container.

Secondly, it is important to keep in mind that leftover turkey will not last indefinitely. You must use leftover turkey within 3 to 4 days, stuffing and gravy within 1 to 2 days, or freeze these foods. To safely reheat leftover gravy, bring it to a rolling boil before serving.

If you choose to put the leftovers away for longer storage, package items in freezer paper or heavy-duty aluminum foil and freeze them. Proper wrapping will prevent “freezer burn,” those white dried-out patches on the surface of food that make it tough and tasteless. Also, don’t forget to date your packages and use the oldest ones first. Frozen turkey, stuffing, and gravy should be used within 1 month.

Probably one of the rules of thumb that many people do not follow is the length of time needed to reheat their turkey. Turkey should be reheated to an internal temperature of 165 degrees F or until hot and steaming throughout. These guidelines should also be followed if you are using leftover turkey in another recipe.

Enjoy this holiday season with family and friends and remember all those who make sacrifices for us so that we can live freely to celebrate holidays such as this.

For more information on holiday meal preparation or food safety, contact me, Jean Ince, at the Howard County Extension Service at 870-845-7517 or visit our office located on the second floor of the courthouse. If you have a food question on Thanksgiving Day, you can call the Meat & Poultry Hotline toll-free at 1-888-674-6854 or e-mail them at

Recipe of the Week

Here is a great way to use leftover cooked turkey. Easy to make and will be delicious on cold evenings.

Turkey-Vegetable Soup

3 cans low-sodium, fat-free chicken broth

½ cup celery, chopped

½ cup carrots, thinly sliced

½ cup onion, chopped

2 cups cooked turkey, diced

¾ cup wide egg noodles

1 Tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped

¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

¼ teaspoon salt

            In a large stock pot over medium heat, combine chicken broth, celery, carrots and onion. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in turkey, noodles and parsley. Return to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 10 minutes or until noodles are tender. Season with black pepper and salt.

By Jean Ince
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Media Contact: Jean Ince
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
421 N. Main St, Nashville AR 71852
(870) 845-7517

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