What do I do with my Christmas leftovers?!

It’s almost a New Year and while I’m not really the type of person to make resolutions, I am the type to make plans and set direction for the year ahead. For Choc Mint Cupcake, that’s meant spending a bit of time thinking about what I’m planning on posting here for 2015.

One of those things is getting into some regular posting topics. These have worked well in the past and from my reader survey, these are the sorts of things you guys are getting the most out of.

Co-incidentally, being that it’s the festive season and our Christmas feasts are all done and dusted and our fridges are still mostly bursting with leftovers, one of the things I want to start writing about more is dealing with leftovers, reducing waste and shopping on a budget. If you’ve been around for a while, you’ll know that I’m pretty good at both of these things, having been forced to learn when I was living on an exceptionally tight budget down in Sydney.

With that in mind, let’s start with the two biggest things you’ll likely have in your fridge at the moment; your ham and your turkey. I sat down with my mum and we brainstormed things that can be done to save you from wasting what can be expensive meats but also so that you don’t get sick of the endless monotony of ham sandwiches!


  • Ham sandwiches/turkey sandwiches. Yum. But you’ll probably be over them in a couple of days, even the holy grail of sandwiches, the ham, cheese and tomato toastie. You can jazz up your turkey by using up your cranberry sauce and that soft cheese you bought for nibbles and have a turkey, cranberry and brie (or camembert) sandwich. For your ham, fire up the grill and make this Croque Madame from a Jamie Oliver recipe. With  the ham, gruyere cheese, béchamel sauce and a fried egg this sandwich is a bit more special than just ham and two bits of bread
  • Omelettes. Finely slice your turkey or ham and add to an omelette
  • Staying on the breakfast theme, make this turkey or ham hash for your toast. This is pretty American, but I love the idea of frying up some of your leftover spuds with finely chopped meat, a capsicum, onion and eggs and having it on toast in the morning
  • Soup. So in Australia, it’s not exactly soup weather, but you can mix up a big batch of pea and ham or turkey and veges and freeze for when the weather does start to turn
  • Quiches/mini quiches. Finely chop your meat and whatever veges you’ve got leftover to  make a few batches of my mini quiches and freeze them. They can come out of the freezer and be heated in the oven when unexpected visitors drop around, or, they can help you get a jump on the kids’ lunches for back-to-school time.
  • On the same note, savoury muffins. Savoury muffins are really popular in my house and I think some of our ham will definitely be making its way into something like this recipe from Julie Goodwin (it doesn’t have ham as an ingredient, but it definitely goes with everything she’s listed).
  • Pizzas. I like to make my bases, par-bake them so they hold their shape and then top, wrap in cling wrap and freeze. This makes homemade pizzas an easy meal for a night when you’re pushed for time, but saves you from ordering take-out so it’s also budget friendly! You can also do this with store-bought bases
  • Pastas. Both meats will go really well in a nice pasta alfredo recipe like this one on Taste.com.au, but you could also add to your tomato-based pastas too. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can mince or super-finely dice your meats, add some spinach and ricotta and homemake raviolis
  • Bacon jam. I was at a friend’s place before Christmas and she was making bacon jam in her Thermomix. There’s no reason why you couldn’t adapt this recipe to be a “ham jam” and give your ham a bit longer shelf life. Recipe for Thermie is here Martha Stewart non-thermie recipe here
  • Ham steaks. Cut a round of your ham, fry it off in the frypan, and if you remember this meal fondly like I do, add a ring of tinned pineapple!
  • Potato cakes. This is also a good way of using up any leftover vegies that are starting to go a bit limp in the fridge. Either used leftover mashed potatoes, or make some up fresh, add in your diced turkey or ham, the leftover vegies (we always use peas, carrots and beans in ours, but anything will work), an egg (you may need two depending on how much potato you have) and some flour to make a soggy dough. Spoon into a hot frypan and shallow fry until cooked through, drain on paper towel and enjoy!
  • Add to any stir-fries or stews.
  • Toss into salads.
  • Pies. Pies can be made from meat, leftover gravy and vegies. If you’ve got a piemaker, this is the time to be using it! I’d ad lib on the filling to taste, but there’s also a recipe for a turkey and ham free form pie by Valli Little that sounds great here on Taste.

When in doubt, cut your meat up in a variety of sizes (shredded, diced and sliced), put in ziplock bags and freeze. When I lived alone, I’d quite often do a roast and freeze the meat into meal-sized portions so I got a nice meal even on the busiest of nights. But you can then use shredded ham or turkey for any of these recipes that you might like to make in a couple of weeks, rather than having to do a whole slew of cooking at this busy time. It’s always much better to freeze rather than throw out!

I’d love to hear if you make any of these recipes yourself, or if you’ve got any other things we can add to our list! I’d also really like to know about what you do with your leftovers in normal, non-festive season weeks. What leftovers do you have trouble using up? What sorts of foods do you find yourself consistently throwing out?


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