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The stores are in full fledge Christmas mode, the Hanukkah or Christmas decorations are already up, and the holiday parties are marked on your calendar. It may be hard to believe that just a few days ago, many people were celebrating Thanksgiving. However, there may still be evidence of this autumn holiday left in your fridge, which brings up the important question: when should these delicious leftovers be eaten or discarded?

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), most leftovers can be kept in the refrigerator for 3-4 days before needing to be eaten or discarded. This means that if you prepared the food on Thursday, you need to either have eaten them by Monday or thrown them away. Of course, no one wants to have to throw away food. The United States already throws away about 40% of our food supply. Combat this by following these tips:

  • Next time, find out how many people you need to feed and try not to make too much. Think about all the other foods at the table; most people don't eat a full serving of every dish.
  • Send some leftovers home with party guests. If your guest brought the cranberry sauce, they'd probably love to have a portion of turkey to go with any leftovers they bring home.
  • Freeze all or a portion of leftovers for later. Cut any meat off the bone and wrap in air-tight packaging.
  • Transform the leftovers into an exciting dish! After a heavy meal, try this light salad with leftover turkey.

Turkey Salad with Orange Vinaigrette (Printable PDF)

¼ cup orange juice

2 Tablespoons white wine vinegar

2 Tablespoons finely chopped onion

¼ teaspoon salt

1 dash pepper

1 Tablespoon oil

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

4 cups torn salad greens

2 cups cooked turkey breast, cut into strips

1 ⅓ cup mandarin orange sections, drained

½ cup celery, chopped

In a jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine all vinaigrette ingredients, orange juice through Dijon mustard; shake well. If you don't have a container with a tight-fitting lid, place ingredients in a small mixing bowl and mix together with a whisk. In large bowl, combine all salad ingredients, greens through celery; toss gently. Serve greens with vinaigrette. If desired, garnish with fresh strawberries.

Yield: 4 servings

Nutrition Facts (per serving): 172 calories, 5 grams fat, 551 milligrams sodium, 10 grams total carbohydrate, 2 grams dietary fiber, 21 grams protein

Source: What's Cooking? USDA Mixing Bowl