Healthy Living Blog

Thanksgiving Leftovers: How Long Will They Keep?

Tina Miller, MS RD Meijer Healthy Living Advisor,


Turkey, meat items:  3-4 days Notes:  On Thanksgiving Day: Remove meat from carcass and layer in shallow pan, no more than 2” deep. Cover and refrigerate within 2 hours after Thanksgiving meal. Leftovers can be frozen and stored 2-6 months.

Stuffing or dressing, Gravy: 1-2 days Freeze leftovers within 24 hours of the meal for later use.

Casseroles (green bean casserole, sweet potato, mashed potatoes): 4-5 days Leftovers can be frozen after 3 days and stored in the freezer 2-6 months.

Cooked Vegetables: 4-5 days

Cranberry sauce, relish: 6 days

Pumpkin Pie, Apple Pie: 2 days for best quality, 5 days for food safety Store covered in the refrigerator.

Notes From USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service:

Storing Your Leftovers

• Discard any turkey, stuffing, and gravy left out at room temperature longer than 2 hours.

• Divide leftovers into smaller portions. Refrigerate or freeze in covered shallow containers for quicker cooling.

• Use refrigerated turkey and stuffing within 3 to 4 days. Use gravy within 1 to 2 days.

• If freezing leftovers, use within 2 to 6 months for best quality.

Reheating Your Turkey

In the Oven

• Set the oven temperature no lower than 325 °F.

• Reheat turkey to an internal temperature of 165 °F. Use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature.

• To keep the turkey moist, add a little broth or water and cover.

In the Microwave Oven

• Cover your food and rotate it for even heating. Allow standing time.

• Check the internal temperature of your food with a food thermometer to make sure it reaches 165 °F.

• Consult your microwave oven owner’s manual for recommended times and power levels.


Favorite Leftover Recipes

Turkey and Dumplings

Serves 6

1 package McCormick® Recipe Inspirations Country Herb Chicken & Dumplings which includes the following Spices:

3/4 teaspoon McCormick® Sage, Rubbed

1/2 teaspoon McCormick® Garlic, Minced

1/2 teaspoon McCormick® Rosemary Leaves, crushed

1/2 teaspoon McCormick® Thyme Leaves

1/2 teaspoon McCormick® Black Pepper, Coarse Ground

3/4 teaspoon McCormick® Parsley Flakes

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter

1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)

1/4 cup flour

3 cups reduced sodium chicken broth

1 1/3 cups milk, divided

3 cups cubed cooked Turkey

2 cups assorted vegetables (thaw if frozen)

1 cup all-purpose baking mix


1. Melt butter in large nonstick skillet on medium-high heat. Add onion; cook and stir 5 minutes or until softened. Sprinkle with flour. Stir with whisk until mixture is well blended. Add broth, 1 cup of the milk and all of the Spices except Parsley; whisk until mixture is smooth.

2. Stir in turkey and vegetables. Bring to boil; reduce heat to medium.

3. Mix baking mix and Parsley in medium bowl. Add remaining 1/3 cup of milk; mix well. Drop by spoonfuls onto chicken mixture. Cook, uncovered, 10 minutes. Cover. Cook 10 minutes longer.

Nutrition Information (per serving): Calories: 342, Fat: 14 g, Carbohydrates: 28 g, Cholesterol: 81 mg, Sodium: 727 mg, Fiber: 2 g, Protein: 26 g

Recipe adapted from:


Spinach, Turkey, and Wild Rice Soup

MAKES: 6 servings, SERVING SIZE: 1 1/2 cup


3 cups water

1 (14 oz.) can Meijer reduced-sodium chicken broth

1 (10-3/4 oz.) can reduced-fat and reduced-sodium condensed cream of chicken soup

2/3 cup uncooked wild rice, rinsed and drained

1/2 tsp. McCormick™dried thyme, crushed

1/4 tsp. ground black pepper

3 cups chopped cooked turkey or chicken (about 1 pound)

2 cups shredded fresh spinach


      1.  In a 3-1/2- or 4-quart slow cooker, combine the water, broth, cream of chicken soup, uncooked wild rice, thyme, and pepper.

2.  Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 7 to 8 hours or on high-heat setting for 3-1/2 to 4 hours.

      3.  To serve, stir in chicken and spinach. Makes 6 (1-1/2-cup) servings.


Nutrition Facts Per Serving: Calories 216; Fat 4m; Cholesterol 64mg; Carbohydrate 19g;  Fiber 2g; Protein 26g; Sodium 397mg.  Diabetic Exchanges:  Vegetables: 1, Starch: 1, Very Lean Meat: 3, Fat: 1


Turkey, Cranberry and Fontina Panini

Makes 4 Sandwiches

8 slices Meijer whole-grain bread

6 ounces thinly sliced Fontina cheese

8 ounces sliced turkey – leftovers

1/2 cup leftover cranberry relish – leftovers

1 cup arugula leaves

Meijer Extra-virgin olive oil


  1.        For each sandwich, lay 2 slices bread on a work surface. Lay about 3/4 ounce cheese on one slice of the bread; top with 2 ounces turkey meat, 2 tablespoons relish, about 5-6 arugula leaves and an additional 3/4 ounce cheese. Top with the other bread slice (there should be cheese next to each bread slice). Repeat with remaining ingredients.
  2.       Brush the top of the sandwich with olive oil; heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Put the sandwich, oiled-side down, into the pan, place a small heavy pan, or aluminum foil-wrapped brick on top of the sandwich to press it down. Cook until bread is golden and crisp and cheese is beginning to melt, about 5 minutes. Remove the heavy pan or brick, brush the top of the sandwich with oil and carefully flip it. Put the heavy pan or brick back on top of the sandwich and continue cooking until bottom bread slice is browned and crisp, cheese is melted, and sandwich is heated through, about 5 minutes more. Remove from the pan and cover to keep warm while cooking the remaining sandwiches.
  3.     To serve, slice each sandwich on the diagonal and serve warm.



Easy Turkey Pot Pie

Serves 6


3 Cups Chopped Leftover Cooked Turkey

1 Pkg. (10 ounce) Frozen Broccoli, Cauliflower and Carrot Blend, thawed

1 1/2 cups Leftover Turkey Gravy

3 Cups Leftover Prepared Stuffing


1. HEAT oven to 375°F.

2. COMBINE turkey, vegetables and gravy in 2-qt. casserole.

3. COVER with stuffing.

4. BAKE 30 min. or until heated through.

Nutrition Information per serving: Calories 335, Fat 17g, Saturated Fat 5g, Cholesterol 45mg, Sodium 560mg, Carbohydrates 28g, Fiber 3g, Protein 17g.

Quick and Easy Turkey Noodle Soup

Recipe source: TryFoods International

Serves 6


1 bay leaf

1/2 cups uncooked medium egg noodles (about 1 1/2 oz.)

1/4 tsp. pepper

1 medium rib celery, halved lengthwise and sliced

1 medium onion, cut into thin wedges

1 medium carrot, peeled and diced

1 tsp. dried marjoram

2 cups chopped or shredded cooked turkey

2 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley (optional)

1 (32 ounce) carton low-sodium chicken broth

2 cups water


1. In Dutch oven or large saucepan, combine chicken broth, water, carrot, celery, onion, marjoram, bay leaf and pepper. Bring to boiling. Reduce heat; cover and simmer 10 minutes.

2. Increase heat to medium-high; return to boiling. Add turkey, noodles and parsley, if desired. Return to boiling. Reduce heat to medium. Cook, loosely covered, 15 to 20 minutes or until noodles are tender. Remove and discard bay leaf.

Nutrition Information per serving: Calories 114, Fat 1g, Saturated Fat 0g, Cholesterol 46mg, Sodium 411mg, Carbohydrates 9g, Fiber 1g, Protein 17g.

Turkey Tetrazzini

Serves 8


8 ounces thin spaghetti, broken into 3-inch lengths, cooked, rinsed, and drained

1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese, divided

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, divided

3 cups diced cooked turkey

2 tablespoons diced pimientos, OPTIONAL

1 tablespoon butter

8 ounces sliced mushrooms

1/4 chopped cup onion

1 can cream of mushroom soup

1/2 cup chicken broth

1/4 cup dry sherry, wine or water

salt and pepper, to taste


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine spaghetti with 1 cup Cheddar cheese and half of the Parmesan cheese. Add turkey and pimientos.

2. In a skillet, melt butter and sauté mushrooms and onions just until tender; add to the turkey mixture along with remaining ingredients.

3. Gently stir to combine ingredients; place in a greased casserole and sprinkle with remaining cheeses.

4. Cover with lid or foil and bake at 350° for about 45 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.

Nutrition Information per serving: Calories 286, Fat 14g, Cholesterol 69mg, Sodium 512 mg, Carbohydrate 14g, Fiber 1g, Protein 25g.

Curried Turkey Salad

Serves 4 to 6


1/4 cup mayonnaise

2 tablespoons chutney (or thick cranberry relish)

3 to 4 teaspoons curry powder, to taste

Whipping cream, as needed (leftover whip topping, such as cool whip)

1/4 cup celery, chopped

1/3 cup chopped dried cranberries

1 tablespoon chopped green onion

2 tablespoons chopped pecans, optional

1 1/2 cups diced turkey


1. Combine mayonnaise and chutney in a small bowl, adding curry powder to your taste. Stir in a little cream to moisten (about 1 Tablespoon at a time).

2. In a larger bowl, combine celery, chopped dried cranberries, green onion, pecans, if using, and turkey.

3. Stir in the curried mayonnaise, adding a little more cream if needed to moisten more.

4. Serve on top of mixed baby greens as a salad or on whole grain bread with a lettuce leaf as a sandwich.

Nutrition Information (per serving)—Turkey salad without lettuce or bread: Calories 154, Fat 8g, Cholesterol 35mg, Sodium 127mg, Carbohydrate 7g, Fiber 1g, Protein 13.5g.