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Holiday Leftover Guide: Side Dishes

pan of cooked turkey, gravy, and vegetables topped with mashed potatoes

If you’re planning a holiday meal or potluck, chances are you will have at least a few side dishes at the table. Once everyone has had a chance to dig in, you might have some leftover potatoes, breads, stuffing, and maybe even a few veggies. Using your side dishes as ingredients in other recipes can keep your post-holiday meals exciting.


Holiday meals are often full of potato options. Mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, and yams are great on their own or remixed into a new dish. Here are just a few ideas to liven up your leftover potatoes:

  • Add them to potato or vegetable soups
  • Use leftover baked potatoes in an Au gratin potato casserole
  • Slice, dice, or shred potatoes for hash browns or fries
  • Patty up mashed potatoes for potato pancakes
  • Toss your leftover mashed potatoes on a shepherd’s pie

 You can also just add a few ingredients to give your potatoes a whole new flavor, like in these Kenyan Vegetable Mashed Potatoes! Potatoes also freeze well if you can’t use them right away. They’ll taste just fine in the New Year.


Bread products are super useful in the kitchen, even when they aren’t fresh out of the oven. In fact, some recipes are better with stale bread, Try these tasty ideas to get the most out of your leftover breads and stuffing.

  • Croutons
  • Side dishes or casseroles
  • Breadcrumbs for meatloaf or meatballs
  • Bread roll French toast
  • Breakfast casserole

Here’s our tasty recipe for Baked Acorn Squash that uses bread in the filling! 


Fresh veggies make great snacks throughout the week, but don’t underestimate the cooked ones. Instead of tossing out leftover veggies, try using them throughout the week in other dishes, such as:

  • Lightly sauté any mix of vegetables you have left over
  • Stir-fry veggies and eggs and serve over rice
  • Toss any extra raw vegetables into soups. You can also add cooked veggies into soups, but make sure you wait until closer to the end of the cooking time so they don’t get too soft.
  • Most vegetables make a great filling for quesadillas
  • Add more vegetables to your casseroles (even if the recipe doesn’t call for it)
  • Most raw veggies work great in lettuce salads

There are so many recipe choices that include vegetables on our recipes page, but the Garlic Cauliflower and Easy Sauteed Vegetables are especially easy to switch up based on what you have in the fridge.

Looking for a way to use many of your holiday leftovers in one dish? Check out our recipe for turkey pie that uses many of the staples you might find at your next holiday meal. There’s nothing better than wrapping up a successful holiday meal AND having a new dish to serve tomorrow without the extra cost and time in the kitchen!

Melissa Schumacher MS, RDN, LDN
December 12, 2022
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