Minimize Holiday Food Waste and Transform Leftovers

Seventy-six percent of Americans admit to throwing out leftovers on a monthly basis — a wasteful luxury when more than 15 million American households are uncertain they have sufficient money or resources to provide enough food for their families.

“People who don’t like leftovers, I think are crazy. You’re saving yourself time,”Drexel University’s Food Lab Manager, Ally Zeitz, told the Arizona Republic.

However, if nuking leftovers in the microwave is getting old consider upcycling your meal with tips from Zeitz and Jonathan Deutsch, PhD, a professor of Food Science in Drexel’s Center for Food and Hospitality Management:

  • Mashed potato cakes or “arancini” — Add an egg for binder, flour or bread and pan- or deep-fry. Stuff with cheese, meat, or other ingredients.
  • Stuffing waffles — Make savory breakfast waffles with eggs and leftover gravy. Just press stuffing into greased waffle iron.
  • Thanksgiving burrito or breakfast burrito — Rice, beans or eggs, turkey, veggies, salsa
  • Frozen cranberry sauce granita — Freeze cranberry sauce add water and blend until icy.
  • Butternut squash/sweet potato smoothie —Add almond butter, milk, even add pumpkin pie
  • Mac and cheese bites Pack into mini muffin tins
  • “Shepherds” pie — Leftover turkey, gravy, veggies and mashed potatoes
  • Chef salad — Romaine and kale, topped with turkey, cranberry sauce, and veggies, with cranberry sauce vinaigrette.
  • Freeze in TV dinner portions for indulgent lunches
  • Turkey soup is obvious but squash, potato and green bean casserole also make delicious soups.
  • Leftover mashed potatoes can thicken soups and stews.
  • Freeze gravy in ice cube trays to use in other dishes.

In the wake of December’s holiday feasts remember to save leftovers that don’t make it to the table. Vegetable peels, bones and gizzards make for a homemade soup stock and potato skins can be transformed into a quick and tasty appetizer.

Media interested in speaking with Drexel’s Food Lab should contact Emily Storz at 215.895.2705 or


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