National Leftovers Day

What to do with the food that’s still in the fridge on Boxing Day? Too much of it these days tends to get thrown out after the gathering is over because it’s too much to get through before it goes off, and that’s a terrible waste.

The Foodwise website has a bunch of seasonal leftover recipes for those whose families have got out of the habit of the old thrifty traditions, and also tips & tricks for stretching them out. also has a collection of xmas leftover recipes. If you’ve got a great recipe for leftovers, please share!

Our family tends to have scrambled eggs with Xmas ham for breakfast on Boxing Day morning, and roast veggie salad to accompany more ham and any leftover prawns for Boxing Day lunch, accompanied by super-fresh bread from the local Vietnamese bakery. It’s decades since we did a full roast turkey, so there’s usually not too much roast meat left over for us to do anything with.

My one indispensable thing to have plenty of in the fridge for jazzing up leftovers in a multitude of ways would be feta cheese. Baby spinach leaves and fresh basil are also bloody handy, as are a few links of chorizo.

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12 replies

  1. My SIL swears by toasties with ham plus assorted other ingredients. She also likes just eating the ham right off the bone.

  2. For some reason, the ham purchaser this year has bought a 5 kilo ham. This means the unlucky family dinner hosts will be eating ham sandwiches until about February. Again.

    Going to look for receipes for ham now.

  3. I think we make a salad with turkey meat, cranberries, various salad vegies and probably that inevitable spinach. But I think an important trick is to spend more time beforehand, estimating how much is needed, so you have less leftovers. Also, smaller turkeys and hams are faster and easier to cook. Who wants the oven on all day?

  4. I like my current solution: we’re having lunch with one set of parents, and tea with the other. Thus we don’t have to purchase anything ourselves, (we don’t have to try and fit more than two people into our tiny unit,) and we don’t have to worry about leftovers. I’m pretty sure the first set of parents will probably attempt to load us up with leftovers anyway (particularly if we say we’re going to be stopping off home before we head over to see the next ones) but at least we’ll not have the same amount as if I were cooking Chrimble lunch (because I inevitably over-cater). Plus, when it comes to the second set, we’re actually helping them with their leftovers (because the main Christmas meal is lunch).
    Some basic substitution tips:
    * Ham can substitute for bacon in any recipe where bacon is primarily added as a source of salt and/or flavour, such as fried rice, quiche, pasta sauces, jambalaya (also a good way of using up leftover seafood!), etc.
    * Turkey can substitute for chicken in most recipes which ask for it. Cooked turkey can be used in stir-fries, salads, fried rice etc.
    * Actually, fried rice (or the multicultural equivalents thereof such as paella or jambalaya) is a great way of using up most cooked meats, leftover cooked veges, and leftover seafood while not being overly “heavy” (something that is a factor after a day of heavy eating) in mouth or stomach feel. Plus it’s something which can be stored in the fridge for a couple of days in zappable portion sizes (for the microwave).
    * If all else fails, vegetables, whether cooked or not, can go on a compost heap and thus be returned to the soil that way. If you grow your own, it’s one way of making sure the garden benefits.
    * Ham bones and chicken/turkey carcasses can be boiled up for stock (although at this time of the year, do this overnight so you’re not heating up the kitchen) and salvaged that way.
    * If you’re in the situation where you have lots of leftover Christmas cake, this was traditionally used as the basis for rum balls.
    * Fruit which has been over-bought and is on the verge of going off can be stewed up with a bit of sugar and used as either ice-cream topping, or the basis of a fruit crumble.
    * Alternatively, if it’s still in reasonably good nick but you aren’t likely to eat it all, try making jam or fruit butter with it.
    * Third option with fruit: zap it up in a blender (or push through a sieve), and freeze it up as icy-poles for the kids.

  5. Leftovers that can be frozen get frozen even if I think we’re going to be using them in the immediate future because I am always wrong about that. The purchase of a ludicrously large ham is deliberate, January is ham & eggs/ham sandwich/slice of ham snack month. The rabbits take care of slightly sad salad veg. Fruit gets frozen for use in smoothies, baking or stewing. That covers most stuff, we don’t usually end up throwing much out.

  6. Oh, have I got it taped – neither Ernst nor I like turkey, so no left over turkey carcass leering at us from the fridge. Not that keen on ham either. I generally go for a mix of a platter of butterflied marinated and quickly roasted quail, and maybe a platter of ditto duck breasts. Differently flavoured marinades. The meats will be cooked the day before and served cold. Some extra nice salads. If our s-in-law will be present, probably add a small pork roast and/or ask our son to bring some of HIS ham. Very choice nibblies and prawns (maybe oysters) for starters.
    Dessert WILL NOT be Christmas pudding. Generally fruit based.
    Generally no waste, unless left over salad gets too tired, when it gets sent to compost heaven.

  7. Breakfast has been ham and cheese omlette and pavlova. Morning tea is the last of the pavlova. I still have 3/4 of a cherry pie and an unopened Christmas pudding so I am set for desserts for the week. Children are trying to see if they can subsist on custard. So far they are doing well.

    • Have just finished a supper entirely consisting of Xmas leftovers (as was my lunch) – prawns, ham, salads (for lunch there were a few extras – the last of the oysters and the devilled eggs). Mio sposo has just made some resh white sauce to have with the leftover pudding, which he is insisting on re-flaming. Nearly Doctor Who time!

  8. Lunch was re-baked potatoes, ham, boiled egg, mayo, chives and seeded mustard salady thing. Dinner was roast pork fried with hoisin sauce and instant noodles.

    Dessert will probably be cherry pie and icecream.

  9. Does anyone have any wisdom on what can be used instead of jars to store home-made relish/chutney? Presumably, if you can seal a jam jar with grease-proof paper and cellophane, then it doesn’t have to be too tightly sealed?

  10. With most relishes and chutneys, I think the problem you’re worrying about isn’t so much the product itself going off (there should be enough vinegar in it to prevent any bacteria getting a good hold) so much as metallic lids corroding (due to that self-same vinegar content). Traditionally, they’re stored in the sorts of lock-down glass jars with the vacuum seal, but ordinary lidded jars would probably do just fine (think of the containers you get various pickles in from the shop, or maybe pasta sauce jars?). Heat your jars to sterilise them, and put the product in while it’s still hot from the stove, then seal quickly (a clean tea towel or pot holder to hold the jar is your friend here – either that or pass the job to the family member who has asbestos hands) while they’re still hot, and it should create a vacuum seal all by itself to hold the lid down.

  11. Thanks Megpie. I was worried I wouldn’t have enough jars, but I think I’ll just need to finish these olives… 😉

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