Thanksgiving is all about an abundance of good food – and putting it to good use is the best way to show your gratitude for that abundance. 37% of food waste happens in the home, but each of us has the power to make this holiday a little less wasteful. With a proper plan of action, you can make sure your Thanksgiving leftovers last and get all the enjoyment they deserve.
Eat in the order of what will go bad first
Store leftovers properly
Gravy doesn’t have a super long shelf life (about two days in the fridge), so be sure to enjoy it as a delicious flavor bomb on all of your leftovers. To make it last a little longer, store it in small batches or in an ice cube tray in the freezer where it will last for up to three months.
As tempting as it is to simply put your platter of half-eaten turkey in the fridge, it’s not a great idea in terms of food safety. After Thanksgiving dinner, finish carving the rest of the uneaten turkey, add the pieces to airtight containers, and store them near the back of the fridge to keep them extra cool. If you bought a backup frozen turkey just to be sure you had enough food for everyone, you can keep it in the freezer for up to a year. (If that’s you, be sure to check out our leftover turkey ideas.)
Wine only gets better with age, right? Not if you’ve already uncorked it. Both red and white wine will last for a few days in the fridge, and in the case of red wine can actually taste better after a day or two. If you have a few too many half-full bottles to realistically drink yourself, you can freeze them and use them later as cooking wine or turn them into wine ice cubes to enjoy in homemade sangria.
If you have too many pies to keep up with, store them in an airtight container; they’ll last for three to four days in the fridge and up to two months in the freezer. Enjoy apple pie first, as it will lose its crispness quickly.
Hopefully, most of your green bean casserole was eaten on Thanksgiving Day because it’s not ideal for storing in the freezer. All that dairy and the crunchy fried onions won’t stand up to too much cooling and reheating, so be sure to give casserole a priority spot in your leftover list.
You should only eat leftover stuffing that has been removed from your turkey or was never actually in a turkey. Other than that, your stuffing will last for about four days in the fridge and a month in the freezer.
Bread and dinner rolls
Leave them on the counter and use your bread to make sandwiches with all your other leftovers, or toast them and enjoy with this Whipped Ricotta with Pomegranate and Toasted Rosemary dip. You can also throw them in the fridge and turn them into croutons later.
Mashed potatoes are one of the best leftovers to get creative with, so they’re a good candidate to keep in a container in the fridge. But if you’ve had your fill of spuds for the foreseeable future, you can store them in the freezer, where they’ll last for about a year.
Fresh cranberry sauce will last up to two weeks in the fridge. We recommend using a glass jar if you have one. Canned cranberry sauce might last a little longer if it’s loaded with preservatives, and if it’s still in the can, it might outlive us all.