25 December 2018Handling Holiday Leftovers

Some people look forward to leftovers and others can't imagine eating the same food for several meals. Whatever your opinion is around leftovers, it is important to have a plan for how to manage them. The holidays often come with extra appetizers, desserts, and treats. Having these foods around the house can create a temptation to snack. This can make it even harder to manage your weight over the holidays. Here are a few ways to work with leftovers so you don't end up nibbling mindlessly.

Strategic Freezing

Leftovers make future meals less time-consuming. Try portioning out a lean protein, green veggie and a whole grain into a plastic container. Place this in the freezer for a lunch-to-go or dinner for a night when you'd rather not cook.

If you end up with extra desserts, try freezing small servings in plastic snack bags. It is a lot easier to avoid tempting treats when they are out of sight. And yet individual dessert servings that defrost quickly will provide a portion controlled option to quench that sweet tooth.


Try reusing leftovers and morphing them into something new. Here are a few recipes using common holiday proteins. The first recipe is Wild Rice and Leftover Turkey Soup from The Seasoned Mom. It contains wild rice which is high in minerals and dietary fiber.

The second recipe is Leftover Ham & Bean Soup from Jo Cooks. I like this recipe because it contains parsnips, which are high in potassium and white beans, which are both filling and an excellent source of dietary fiber.

Here is a low fat version of a classic comfort meal from one of my favorite websites, Eating Well. This recipe for Turkey Tetrazzini uses skim milk and omits the butter to cut down on the fat.

Looking for a lower calorie lunch with that extra turkey? Try making these turkey salad lettuce cups (Turkey Salad with Grapes, Apples & Walnuts) from Food Done Light.

Give Yourself Permission

If you enjoy eating leftovers and your refrigerator is stocked, why not give yourself permission to portion out the leftovers and enjoy them. Many clients I work with find it is easier to stay on track if they plan out what they are going to eat ahead of time. This is quite easy to do if you know you are going to have leftovers. Simply front-load the meals into your tracker by entering in the meals ahead of time. This can help prevent going over your calorie budget and prevent spontaneous eating as you will be planning out your meals ahead of time. How many folks wait until the end of the day to record their intake?

Finally, if you find you have an abundance of leftovers, you may consider throwing them away. However, if you were raised to always clean your plate this may be difficult to imagine doing. In which case, I suggest reheating those leftovers and inviting the neighbors over for a potluck. What a great way to enjoy good company, good food, and share how everyone celebrated the holidays!

Joanna Kriehn is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Diabetes Educator with a passion for supporting individuals as they move towards a healthier lifestyle. You can learn more about Joanna by visiting her LinkedIn page

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Disclaimer: The information provided here does not constitute medical advice. If you are seeking medical advice, please visit your healthcare provider or medical professional.


Holidays / Parties/Thanksgiving Holidays / Parties/Winter Holiday Season

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