Please Stop Telling Me What to Do With My Thanksgiving Leftovers

My day-old mashed potatoes are perfect as-is.

thanksgiving-plate-carved
Photo by David Meredith

Thanksgiving is, hands-down, my favorite holiday of the year. With the exception of Fall 2013, when I was studying abroad on the tiny remote island of Samoa and couldn’t reasonably fly home and back for the long weekend, I have spent every Thanksgiving with my parents, two sisters, and a rotating slew of family members and close family friends.

When I was younger, we traveled to Cleveland, OH for the holiday, and would drive home to Cincinnati immediately following to prepare for our Black Friday adventures. With the exception of a piece of pumpkin bread (if there was any leftover) wrapped up for the car ride, the early departure meant no leftovers for us. Shout out to my Auntie Sherri, whose pumpkin bread will forever remain the best I’ve ever tasted—and far too sacred for me to try and re-create.

The past few years we’ve hosted Thanksgiving at our house, and as a family full of food-lovers, that means everything gets made from scratch. After racing home from the Turkey Trot, it’s time to get to work—proofing dough for dinner rolls, toasting bread for the stuffing, chopping kale for a big side salad, and so on. When our grandparents arrive, it’s time to quickly shower and change into our dinner attire, and then we finally plop down and enjoy the hard-earned meal.

Almost as exciting as the meal itself is the knowledge that we’ll have leftovers to enjoy on Friday. After waking up at 5 a.m. to get the best deals at Anthropologie (you guys, even the sale goes on sale—and they have cookies at the door), nothing is better than arriving home and diving into a second Thanksgiving meal. I re-create the same plate I devoured the night before, taking slightly more of my favorite sides and doubling down on leftover dessert.

And why shouldn’t I? We spent hours chopping, sautéing, roasting, and baking to create a fabulous meal we look forward to all year. Isn’t it only logical to enjoy it for as many days as possible in its original form? How could you possibly be sick of these dishes already when you only get to eat them once a year? Plus, we finally finished cleaning up from last night. Why would I want to dirty the kitchen again—and spend more time cooking already-cooked food?

I don’t want to turn my mashed potatoes into waffles or deep-fry them into croquettes. Don’t make me stuff my cranberry sauce into a turnover or a tartlet. I really would like my stuffing simply warmed up in the microwave, not chopped up and tossed into a frittata. And please, for the love of Thanksgiving, don’t tell me to blend my pumpkin pie into a milkshake. That slice is just as good as it was last night!

With the exception of the bird (I’m a vegetarian, but I do understand the appeal of a leftover turkey sandwich), I’d like to propose that this year, you hold off on the crazy leftover mash-ups. Trust me—a second day of Thanksgiving is far, far tastier.