From Frigidaire to Tupperware, for centuries, Americans have economized, repurposed and redistributed leftovers. By the end of the 19th century and with the regulation of ice delivery, our affair with leftovers has been tumultuous. Leftovers were less of an afterthought and more of a necessity in earlier times. Americans spent on average almost half of their income on food alone, so preserving food became an art.

By the 1940s and 1950s, updating leftovers was toted as an extension of the cooking process. Cookbooks dedicated to the revamping of old meals with fun new products lined kitchen countertops. Creativity rained supreme. Betty Crocker urged new housewives — if you ever doubt it, throw a pineapple ring on it.

As time went on, the thrill of the half-eaten was gone. Food scarcity and hunger no longer had a place in the memories of the new generation. Food was cheaper and more accessible than ever. Today, while food is in more abundance than ever, leftovers are coming back.

Although Americans spend less on food than ever, less than an estimated 10 percent of their annual incomes, more people are becoming aware of the impact the production of it has on the environment. New studies show that the growing and producing of livestock and agriculture are biggest determinants of habitat loss and climate change.

For the first time in history, tossing perfectly eatable remnants of dinner looks more like gluttony than privilege … or maybe you just need a excuse to feel good about finishing the last piece. With that in mind, here are five delicious and sustainable recipes for your Thanksgiving leftovers.


Leftover Turkey Pot Pie

Feel free to throw in whatever leftover sides you have into this pot pie. If you don’t have frozen vegetables, think green bean casserole, chopped brussel sprouts or glazed carrots. Leftovers are about being creative and eating what you got. Plus, you can’t really go wrong with pot pie.


Turkey Reuben

This Martha Stewart recipe takes Thanksgiving leftovers far away from their original origins. Substitute Russian dressing for 1,000 island if you are lazy.


Cranberry Pancakes

Pancakes with cranberry sauce. Simple enough, but effective for the bowls of cranberry sauce that never seem to get eaten.

“Friends” Leftover Sandwich

If you enjoy the show “Friends” than perhaps you remember the episode where Ross invented this sandwich. It is comprised of almost every Thanksgiving staple that is reinvented for your leftover needs. Best served with reruns.


More Casserole

Kraft is known for simplicity, and the simplicity of throwing all the Thanksgiving leftovers together and baking it is as simple as it gets. If you are not over casseroles, this is a must try.