Now that you slaved in the kitchen for days on end to feed all your family and friends, the last thing you want to do is cook some more. You can either give away leftovers, eat them as is, or turn them into new, lighter fare to take you through the weekend, and even into Monday, as you begin your holiday shopping.

I love finding creative ways to stretch my food dollar. Not only does a frugal food budget allow you more flexible spending in other areas of your life, but it also shows an appreciation for the food you’ve received.

You can use any leftover meat, even vegetarian protein sources, to make these economically efficient entrees. And don’t let those veritable veggies go to waste. Although twice-cooked vegetables do lose some nutrition, by adding other fresh, flavorful ingredients you waste not, want not while bringing new life to leftovers.

Even if you’ve had your share of turkey, you can still flex your creative muscle by experimenting with these ingredients. Then find someone in need who will appreciate your thoughtful gesture, hard work and heartfelt warmth when they receive the most precious gift of all this holiday season — love, as food.

These tasty treats will feed loved ones while decreasing your food budget as well as your waistline, plus they will give you the necessary energy to spend your savings on holiday gifts. Everyone wins!

<i>Crunchy “cash conscious” turkey salad</i>

4 cups chopped leftover turkey meat, white, dark, whatever you have leftover

2 cups red grapes, cut in half

4 stalks celery, diced

1/2 cup pecans or walnuts, chopped


3/4 cup Fage brand Greek yogurt

1/4 cup canola mayonnaise

1 tbs. apple cider vinegar

1 tbs. honey

1 tbs. poppy seeds

Zest and juice of 1/2 lemon

Sea salt and ground pepper to taste

Combine dressing ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Add chopped turkey, grapes, celery and pecans. Toss to coat everything evenly.

Makes 12 servings, 3/4 cup each. Per serving: 160 calories, 15g protein, 10g carbs, 1g fiber, 6g fat, 200mg omega-3 fats. Significant source of selenium, manganese and zinc. Serve on a bed of leafy greens to increase vitamins, minerals and fiber per serving.

<i>“Tender friendly” turkey enchiladas</i>

2 cups shredded leftover turkey

2 (15 ounce) cans ranchero beans

1 tbs. olive oil

1 small yellow onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tbs. ground cumin

2 tsp. red pepper flakes

1/2 bunch cilantro leaves, chopped

1 cup shredded Monterey jack cheese, organic (try almond or rice versions)

12 corn tortillas

1 cup salsa

1 cup shredded cheddar, almond or rice, Lisanatti brand

1/2 tsp. ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat oil in a large skillet. Sauté onion until soft. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant. Add cumin and red pepper flakes and blend flavors. Add ranchero beans and turkey meat. Heat thoroughly on medium heat. Do not cover skillet. Continue to stir and heat ingredients until most of the liquid has evaporated and the ingredients have thickened. Remove skillet from heat. Mix in Monterey jack cheese and cilantro. Coat 9-by-13 inch baking dish with a little oil to keep enchiladas from sticking. Place 1/2 cup turkey mixture down the middle of each tortilla. Fold sides of the tortilla in and place fold side down in baking dish. Place tortillas side by side to create two rows of six. Pour salsa over tortillas then sprinkle with cheddar cheese. Bake 15 minutes or until cheese has melted. Makes 12 servings. Per serving: 180 calories, 12g protein, 23g carbs, 5g fiber, 5g fat. Significant source of B vitamins, calcium, iron, magnesium, selenium and zinc.

<i>“Greenback” greens</i>

2 cups leftover vegetables, broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, etc.

1/4 red onion, sliced

1/2 cup frozen peas

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tsp. olive oil

1 tsp. Tamari

1 tsp. minced ginger or 1/2 tsp. ground ginger

1/4 tsp. curry powder

1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

Zest and juice of 1/2 lemon

Ground pepper to taste

Heat oil in a medium size skillet. Add onions and cook until soft. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant. Add chopped leftover vegetables and peas. Add Tamari blend ingredients. Add ginger, curry, red pepper flakes and lemon juice and zest. Blend ingredients. Add pepper to taste. Heat until vegetables are slightly crisp and all flavors are blended evenly. Adjust seasonings as needed. Makes six servings. Per serving: 50 calories, 3g protein, 8g carbs, 4g fiber, 1g fat, 78% Daily Value for vitamin C. Good source of folate.

<i>“Double dipped” dressing, stuffing or potato cakes</i>

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Take any leftover mashed carb, even add leftover corn. Coat a baking sheet with canola oil. Take 1/4 cup mashed carb mixture. Flatten onto oiled baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes per side or until each side is crispy and brown. No nutrition info here. Please enjoy one cake with a lean protein and vegetable side and everything will balance out!

Elizabeth is a registered dietitian and certified holistic chef who believes that every food and everyone deserves a second chance. For more information, please visit her Web site at

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