Tips on storing and transforming Thanksgiving leftovers

Posted at 8:27 PM, Nov 23, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-23 22:45:38-05

Most of us eat more than one meal on Thanksgiving. You can continue eating those Thanksgiving meals days later, and it will still taste as good as the first bite — if you know how to store it.

Justin Madsen, the General Manager at Central Kitchen in Phoenix, gave us some awesome advice on ways to store your leftovers the right way.

He says follow the 2x2x4 rule:

After eating, food should be packaged and put away into the fridge within hours

Fill containers with inches of food and liquids 2 inches from the top.  If the container is too full, you risk your meals spoiling faster because it takes the fridge too long to cool off the food

Eat the leftovers within 4 days — directly freeze items you know you will not consume in 4 days

Gravy is a huge exception to this guideline*

  • You only have 2 days before gravy goes bad
  • Re-heat gravy using the stove top and make sure to bring it all the way to a rolling boil. 
  • Leftovers should be heated to 165 degrees in the oven or stove. Microwaves take a lot of flavor away from food
  • When freezing, make sure to double wrap: first foil, then plastic wrap. And always label!

Your leftovers don’t have to appear to be leftovers because there are so many things you can make that will fool everyone. Below is a yummy and unique recipe for Mashed Potato quesadillas.

(Makes 4 quesadillas)

  •  2 cups mashed potatoes
  • 2 cups shredded cheese
  • ¼ cup sliced green onions
  • 8 flour tortillas
  • About 1 cup of leftover turkey
  1. Stir together the mashed potatoes, turkey and green onions. Spread the mashed potato mixture onto one side of a tortilla. Sprinkle the shredded cheese on top of the mashed potatoes and top with another tortilla.
  2. Preheat a large skillet over medium heat. Lightly butter one side of the quesadilla and place that side onto the preheated pan, cooking until golden brown. Butter the top side of the quesadilla and turn over to continue cooking until browned, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Repeat with remaining tortillas and mashed potato mixture. Serve with salsa and sour cream, or use leftover gravy and cranberry sauce for dipping.
  • Quesadilla can be made vegetarian by using the stuffing instead of turkey.
  • Bacon makes everything better... go ahead and add some.
  • This dish is made to be simple, interactive (let kids build their own) and very flexible for any leftovers.

Once those delicious Thanksgiving leftovers are gone, check out Central Kitchen.

If you go:

Central Kitchen

5813 N. 7th Street Suite 140

Phoenix, AZ 85014