Design your life to include more money, health and happiness with less stuff, space and energy.

Design your life to include more money, health and happiness with less stuff, space and energy.

When Life Gives You Leftovers, Make Leftoverade

Few things say Thanksgiving like uneaten leftovers. The vats of cranberry sauce, the innumerable pans of stuffing and of course the poor, eviscerated bird. You have the best of intentions of upcycling this bounty, but it is often left barely eaten and trashed–possibly with an optional six month stint in the freezer beforehand.

An NRDC study estimated that 40% of America’s food supply is thrown away. That amounts to $2,275 into the trash for an average family of four every year. So in the quest to do more with less, your kitchen and its edible contents are a great starting point.

A site called We Hate to Waste gives ideas about how avoid the trash solution to your leftover food, including the soup recipe below, which transforms your likely-to-be-trashed turkey carcass into a tasty soup with a few common kitchen ingredients. The site includes a number of other similar “waste-watching” (get it?) recipes and tips for reducing waste in your home.

Site contributor Jocelyn Deprez has even written a book called “The Refrigerator Files: A Guide To Creative Makeovers For Your Leftovers,” which, as the title suggests, is a guide for making great food from common leftovers.

A big part of doing more with less is working with what you already got. Recipes like this–and the intention behind them–are great way of doing that.

  • 1 turkey carcass
  • 1 cup turkey meat, cut into half-inch cubes, for garnish, optional
  • 16 cups water
  • Leftover giblet gravy, if any, optional
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped onion
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt and freshly group pepper to taste
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 4 springs fresh parsley
  • 2 springs fresh thyme or ½ teaspoon dried
  • 3 whole carrots, trimmed and scraped
  • 3 whole ribs celery, trimmed and scraped
  • ½ cup broken vermicelli, cappelini or spaghettini*
  1. Pick over the carcass and reserve any tender morsels of meat. Use this if desired, for the cup of meat indicated, adding more meat as necessary.
  2. Place the carcass in a kettle and set the meat aside. Add to the kettle any jellied gravy that ay be accumulated on the turkey platter or dish.
  3. Add the water to the kettle. Add the leftover giblet gravy if there is any. Add the onion, bay leaf, salt, pepper, cloves, parsley, thyme, carrots, and celery. Bring to the boil and simmer one hour, skimming the surface as necessary.
  4. Strain the soup through a sieve lined with a clean kitchen towel or a double thickness of cheesecloth. Discard all the solids except the carrots and celery.
  5. Pour about two cups of the soup into a saucepan and add the vermicelli. Cook until just tender.
  6. Add this to the soup. Cut the carrots and celery into half-inch cues and add them. Add the one cup of cubed turkey meat. Bring to the boil. Serve piping hot.

What are you doing with leftovers? Let us know in our comments section.

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  • dejrr

    We rarely discard food, except when our preschool-age grandchildren are with us. Leftovers are eaten as lunch, sometimes in other forms but usually just microwaved or reheated as is. The trick is to begin with smaller quantities; just enough for the number of people served with a little leftover. It helps the budget, too. Those huge birds that are on sale aren’t a bargain if the meat is thrown away.

  • billy

    when i buy food, i eat all of of it before i shop again. no leftovers. billy

  • Corinne

    We never throw a carcass away until we make stock out of it. You can also freeze the carcass to make stock from it later.

  • jottman

    Thanks for the mention to, friends at It will take even more than a village to change global culture around Consumption and the more is better mentality! Looking forward to further collaboration.

  • jo

    We are a French family living abroad. Our friends often visit us and are always happy to bring us French cheese we cannot buy here. It’s so kind to them! But sometimes it’s just too much! Then I dice the cheese, freeze in small quantities and mix them in pies. It’s a basic “quiche Lorraine” recipe. I just replace bacon with cheese. It also works with most leftover dishes: Leek and salmon, spinach, tomatoes and tuna fish….
    I prepare the dough myself: 125 gr of butter and 250 of flour. While mixing with your hands you might need to add a littl bit of water to get the right texture. 20 min in fridge. Then mix 2 orb3 eggs with 1/2 lite of milk or sour cream. Add leftover food and spices. Spread dough, put in your oven dish. Spill mixture above into it (better to coat the spread dough with egg white, but not necessary). Bake 30 to 45 min 180 degrees Celsius. While baking, play with your kids. Bon appetit!!