Everyone can leave with a little something special if you use one of these creative ideas.

Everyone loves Thanksgiving leftovers, but not everyone (especially guests) gets to enjoy them—and sometimes, the host is left with more food than they can handle. If you're hosting this year, consider planning ahead so that everyone can take some of your delicious Thanksgiving feast home with them at the end of the night.

We have three ideas for stretching leftovers to feed your crowd—and two tips for sharing if you know ahead of time that you'll have plenty extra. All are great ways to keep the warm holiday spirit of gratitude going.

What to Do With a Lot of Thanksgiving Leftovers

Guests may be shy about taking leftovers home, so if you know you will have plenty of food to share, reinforce that they are free to grab and go.

Leftovers Station

The easiest way to encourage your loved ones to take home Thanksgiving leftovers is to plan a special station that can be set out after dessert. But don't just leave food on the table after the meal—you'll need to make sure perishable dishes are kept refrigerated to minimize the risk of foodborne illness.

When it's time for everyone to say goodbye, set out a stack of takeout containers (or ask your guests to bring their own) and line up the leftovers on the kitchen counter or buffet table; let friends and family pick and choose their favorite foods to enjoy the next day.

Ingredients for Tomorrow Night's Dinner

You can absolutely feed overnight guests Thanksgiving extras the following day—but change up the dinner menu and keep it easy by assembling this Shepherd's Pie using leftover turkey and sides like mashed potatoes and glazed carrots. The classic comfort food dish strikes the perfect balance between familiar flavors and something new.

For something a little more modern, make this Thanksgiving-Leftovers Pie. Leftover turkey, stuffing, and cranberry sauce are combined with fresh ingredients like leeks, carrots, and white potatoes. Everything is wrapped in a buttery free-form pie crust and baked to perfection—it will feed a crowd for dinner when served with a simple green salad.

How to Stretch Your Leftovers

If you're hosting and want to send guests home with a taste of the holiday meal, but don't have a ton to go around, there are several tasty ways to stretch your leftovers.

"Gobbler" Sandwich Kits

If you're hosting a large crowd and don't expect to have a lot of leftovers, offering something specific, like a "gobbler kit," is a guaranteed way to make everyone happy and stretch what you do have. Gobblers are a wildly popular sandwich that nearly everyone loves eating the next day.

To make gobbler sandwich kits, you'll need rectangular takeout boxes and 2 ounce condiment containers that can hold the gravy and cranberry sauce.

  1. Buy your favorite rolls or sandwich bread and portion them into resealable plastic bags so they stay fresh.
  2. The day before, cut up the cheese of your choice (a Brie or an aged cheddar would be our pick) and store the slices in an airtight container in the fridge.
  3. After the big meal, carve up the rest of the turkey and divvy it up into the takeout boxes with the bread, sauces, cheese, and a small scoop of leftover stuffing.
thanksgiving leftovers box
Credit: Chelsea McNamara Cavanaugh

Stuffin' Muffins

Another way to ensure everyone can take home a taste of leftovers is by making stuffin' muffins. Stuffing is a classic Thanksgiving side, and it's easy enough to make two pans rather than one when you're preparing for your annual feast. Better yet, you can turn that extra pan of stuffing into adorable savory muffins for your guests to enjoy for breakfast the next day. 

Here's how to make them:

  1. For every 5 cups of prepared stuffing, mix in three eggs, 1/2 a cup of chicken or turkey broth, and a heaping 1/2 cup of shredded cheese like cheddar. (Feel free to add up to a cup of other mix-ins, like chopped roast turkey and cooked vegetables.)
  2. Spoon the mixture into greased muffin tins and bake them at 350 degrees until centers are cooked through and the top is lightly browned and crisped, 25 to 30 minutes. 
  3. Let cool in the pan on a cooling rack, then remove muffins from tin to cool completely.

Soup or Small Pies for Neighbors

Instead of sharing your leftovers right after the feast, make a batch of something special using any remaining food over the next day or two. Whether it is a soup—which can stretch a small amount of leftover turkey into many generous bowls—or these cute little pocket pies, your local loved ones will be surprised and delighted to receive a gift like this in the days after the holiday.


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