Outsmart Holiday Food Waste with These Four Tasty and Healthy Recipes

Even after the Thanksgiving leftovers have been devoured, we still toss 204 million pounds of turkey every year. Add in all those other unused seasonal ingredients and holiday food waste can really add up. But it doesn’t have to. These dishes can help you repurpose leftover odds and ends—and eat deliciously while you’re at it! 

Mixed Herb Pesto

Don’t let excess herbs wilt in your crisper. Transform them into pesto. Pesto is also a great way to use up spare nuts and it takes just minutes to make. Another bonus: It freezes beautifully, so you can stash it away for a lazy night when you don’t feel like cooking.

Make it. In a food processor, combine 1 cup fresh, mixed soft-stemmed herbs (such as parsley, tarragon, sage, or basil), ¼ cup nuts (any kind!), 1 clove garlic, and ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese. Pulse until ingredients are finely chopped. Add 1/3 cup olive oil and pulse briefly to combine. Season with salt and pepper.

Roasted Potato Peels

We eat more potatoes around holiday time than at any other time of year. The peels? Not so much. But those skins are worth saving! Each tater skin delivers an extra gram of digestion-friendly fiber plus 150 milligrams of blood pressure-lowering potassium. So go ahead and roast them. They’re so tasty you may never reach for a bag of potato chips again.

Make it. Toss 1 cup potato peels with 1 tablespoon avocado or canola oil. Arrange on a baking sheet and season with garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Roast in a 400°F (200°C) oven for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the oven. Top with chopped fresh herbs such as parsley or rosemary.

Kitchen Sink Broth

Canned broth might be convenient, but it’s super heavy in sodium (even lower-sodium versions can pack 25 percent of your daily sodium limit). Why not make your own? Chances are, you have all the ingredients sitting in your fridge right now. All you have to do is plunk them into a pot and relax while they simmer.

Make it. In a large stockpot, combine leftover turkey bones (if you’re a vegetarian or vegan, feel free to leave these out), 1 to 2 cups raw vegetables (such as carrots, turnips, parsnips, or celery), 1 onion cut into quarters, 3 garlic cloves, a large handful of fresh herbs, 2 bay leaves, 10 peppercorns, and ½ teaspoon salt. Cover with 8 to 10 cups of water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered for 2 to 3 hours. Cool and pour through a strainer, reserving broth and discarding the solids.   

Roasted Veggie Tacos

When life gives you too many Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, or other winter veggies make tacos (they’re also a great way to use up extra cheese). The key to their success is in the dicing, so aim for bite-sized 1/4-inch (5 cm) pieces.

Make it. In a large microwave-safe bowl, heat 5 cups leftover cooked, diced vegetables until warm, about 3 minutes. Remove from the microwave and gently toss with 3 tablespoons avocado or canola oil, 1 teaspoon chili powder, 1 teaspoon cumin, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Fold in 1 15-ounce can rinsed, drained black beans, and the juice of 1/2 lime. Toss well. Divide among 10 6-inch tortillas. Top with shredded cheese and cilantro, if desired.

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