Thanksgiving has come and gone. The annual bounty of home-cooked goodness steeped in familial tradition is on the brain, and the ideas alone of tender turkey, creamy mashed potatoes, and gooey marshmallow-topped yams have left us feeling content.

Food is on everyone’s minds. And that means food waste is on our minds.

According to the Food and Drug Administration, 30 to 40 percent of the United States’ food supply ends up wasted. At about 22 percent, food waste is estimated to be the largest single category to contribute to municipal landfills. In 2017 alone, 41 million tons of food were wasted, and less than seven percent was composted or combusted for energy recovery. 

Finishing your plate of food instead of throwing half of it in the trash won’t solve world hunger. But if millions of people consciously made an effort to reduce food waste — whether by buying only what they’ll actually use, relying on compost heaps instead of landfills, or making an effort to use up everything they cook — the planet, and its people, would be much better off.

To help prevent wasting food in your home this turkey day, here are some creatively tasty recipes that will put your Thanksgiving leftovers to good use. 

Turkey Croquettes

Recipe from Seamus Mullen

grilled chicken on black and silver grill
Photo by twohelmetscooking is licensed with CC BY 2.0.

Recipe by chef/owner of New York’s Tertulia

Yield: 24 2-inch croquettes

Time: 40 minutes

  • 2 to 2 1/2 cups bread crumbs
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 cups mashed potatoes
  • 4 to 6 tablespoons olive oil, as needed
  • 2 cups cooked turkey, chopped
  • 2 cups stuffing
  • Cranberry sauce and/or gravy, for serving
  1. In a small sauté pan over moderate heat, toast the breadcrumbs for 3 to 4 minutes until golden and crunchy. 
  2. Transfer to a small bowl and let cool.
  3. In a small bowl, beat together the egg and water.
  4. In a large bowl, combine the mashed potatoes, stuffing, and turkey. 
  5. Using your hands or a spoon, shape the mixture into 2-inch-long, oblong-shaped croquettes (you should have about 24 croquettes) and transfer to a large rimmed baking sheet.
  6. Working with 1 croquette at a time, dredge in the egg-water mixture, letting the excess drip off, then dredge in breadcrumbs and return to the rimmed baking sheet.
  7. In a large skillet, over moderately high heat, warm 2 tablespoons of the oil.
  8. Working in batches, pan-fry the croquettes, turning them occasionally, until crispy on all sides, 5 to 6 minutes total. 
  9. Repeat with the remaining croquettes, wiping the pan clean and adding 2 tablespoons of the oil to the pan between batches. 
  10. Serve hot with cranberry sauce and/or warm gravy.

Turkey Shepherd’s Pie

Recipe from Baked by Rachel

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Time: 45 mins

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup onion, chopped
  • 1/3 cup celery, chopped
  • 1/3 cup carrots, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 1/2 cups cooked turkey
  • 1/4 cup peas or green beans
  • 1/4 cup corn
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 cup gravy
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 cups mashed potatoes
  • 4 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. 
  2. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt butter. 
  3. Add onion, celery, and carrots, cooking until onions are translucent. 
  4. Add minced garlic, cooking for an additional minute. 
  5. Throw in turkey, corn, and peas (or green beans), along with seasonings and gravy, cooking until heated through. 
  6. Transfer to a 1-quart baking dish, pressing into an even layer. 
  7. Heat mashed potatoes until lukewarm and easy to stir. 
  8. Add half of the shredded cheese to the potatoes and stir to combine. 
  9. Spread mashed potatoes over the turkey filling. 
  10. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. 
  11. Bake for 30 minutes. 
  12. If desired, broil or use a kitchen torch to char the cheese slightly. 
  13. Serve warm.

Cranberry Sauce Apple Crisp

Recipe from Kelly Senyei

shallow focus photography of red berry lot

Yield: 6 servings

Time: 50 minutes

  • 3 Granny Smith apples
  • 1 1/4 cups homemade cranberry sauce
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup uncooked Old Fashioned oats
  • 4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, plus more for greasing dish
  • Ice cream or whipped cream, for serving
  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. 
  2. Grease an 8×8-inch baking dish with unsalted butter.
  3. Core and slice the apples into 1/4-inch thick slices. 
  4. In a large bowl, toss together the apples with the cranberry sauce. 
  5. Pour the fruit mixture into the prepared baking dish, spreading it into an even layer.
  6. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, and oats until combined. 
  7. Cube the butter, then add it to the bowl, working it into the oat mixture with your fingers until it’s well incorporated. 
  8. Sprinkle the oat mixture evenly over the fruit. 
  9. Place the dish on a baking sheet and bake the crisp for 32 to 35 minutes, until the oats are toasted and the fruit is bubbling. 
  10. Remove the crisp from the oven and allow it to cool for 5 minutes so the juices thicken slightly.
  11. Serve the crisp warm, topped with a scoop of ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream.