12 ways to make the most of Christmas leftovers

Britons throw away around £64 million of food at Christmas. What a terrible waste – that’s around 10% of every festive dinner. All you need is a few easy ideas and a trusty freezer to help make your Christmas food go further.

1. Get friendly with your freezer 
After the turkey has been to the table with the cold cuts and sandwiches, get it into the freezer quickly if it won’t be eaten in the days after Christmas. 

Divide the meat into portions to put into tupperware separately: weeks later you’ve got a base for dishes like turkey salad, coronation turkey, or curry. 

You can also freeze any leftover bread sauce if it hasn’t been frozen before. 

2. Make pie
By reheating your leftovers in liquid, you stop them drying out while being cooked again. 

Make pie with turkey, ham, pigs in blankets and whatever winter herbs you like best, along with a slick of cream or crème fraîche. 

This Christmas dinner pie recipe can be adapted with any fridge-foraged leftovers.

Have some pastry ready in the freezer so that this pie, and others like it, can be made pretty quickly.

3. Chuck it in a chutney
You might not fancy getting on a chutney-making mission immediately after Christmas, so just bung any suitable leftovers in the freezer for a rainy day in the future. 

Leftover braised red cabbage, for example, makes a great chutney.

A spell in the frying pan the next day also does wonders for sprouts

4. Soup it up
It’s hard to beat wintery Stilton and broccoli soup for comfort food. 

Make a large batch of it with any leftover cheese, and get the soup into the freezer in portions for work lunches in the new year. 

Leftover ham works well for ham and pea soup too - leave the bone in for extra flavour. 

5. Don’t forget the mincemeat
There are tonnes of things you can do with leftover mincemeat, so don’t leave that jar festering away in the fridge. 

Ice cream, cake, crumble, and cheesecake are top of our list. 

Or you can hollow out an apple and fill it with mincemeat to bake – similar to this baked apples with custard recipe

6. Just add an egg (or two)
Whisk together a few eggs for an omelette, studded with leftover Christmas dinner ingredients and a grating of any melting cheese you fancy. 

You could also make bubble and squeak with potatoes and any mixed veg you have left over. 

Serve the bubble and squeak with slices of ham and a poached egg for a Boxing Day brunch.

7. Jerk it
A decent spice mix will give new life to your leftovers. 

Buy a good-quality jerk spice mix or make your own with cinnamon, black peppercorns, dried thyme, allspice, cayenne, and nutmeg. 

Jerk ham, jerk curry, and jerk vegetables will liven up post-Christmas food - even jerk cheese is a thing apparently.

8. Make sarnies
Have some good-quality bread around to make Christmas leftovers sandwiches. 

Homemade club sandwiches made with sliced turkey, stuffing, pigs in blankets, and Christmas veg beat the shop-bought ones any day. 

Poke a wooden cocktail stick in the top for that authentic club sandwich look.

A decent spice mix will give new life to your leftovers

9. Give sweet stuff a second life
Turn stale croissants and panettone into bread and butter pudding. 

Stir Christmas pudding into slightly softened vanilla ice cream and then refreeze. 

You could also stir any leftover chocolate coins or other festive chocolate into banana bread, made with bananas on the turn – that’s if you have any leftover chocolates…

10. Gratinate
Tip your leftover vegetables into a gratin dish, top with cream, grated cheddar, and some crushed almonds or walnuts; bake until nicely browned and crunchy on top. 

If you don’t feel like preparing this dish straightaway, you could leave all the veg in the freezer, ready to take out and defrost when you’ve got more energy for cooking.

11. Make risotto
Hang onto the bones from your turkey to make a flavoursome stock or soup. 

Use the homemade stock (or bought if you’re short of time) for turkey risotto, served with chunks of leftover meat and any veg you have around.

Add rosemary and sage – those wintery hard herbs we associate with stuffing – and top with pieces of melting cheese scavenged from the cheese board.

12. Fry it
Make a great hash on Boxing Day with leftover nut roast or slices of turkey, fried with diced potato, onion, and perhaps some herbs. 

A spell in the frying pan the next day also does wonders for sprouts. 

In fact, you can liven up anything, from leftover vegetables to Christmas pudding, by frying in a little butter – just not all at the same time.