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Holiday leftovers for Guests?

You were invited for dinner, now hours later once home a huge craving for a turkey (or name your dish) sandwich. Can you satisfy that craving?

Me: Small crowd, big turkey at SO parents. Long visit, lots of aid in cleaning kitchen - bye-bye!
No offer of goodies to go. Thinking back on holidays of years past, in similar circumstances but different hosts, leftover turkey (enough for a few sandwiches) and often more has always been offered. I enjoyed the evening & am always appreciative of an invite. Now just wishing I had known - would have cooked a turkey breast at home for leftovers!

Must note: I adore a turkey dinner with all the trimmings, so I may be too emotionally involved.
If I cook a holiday meal I plan on enough for folks to take some home if desired. IMO the only thing worse than no leftover turkey for sandwiches is no turkey to begin with! :)

How do your gatherings handle it? (Hope everyones holiday meals were delicious & filled with love & good cheer!)

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  1. I know exactly how you feel! If I am the hostess, I rarely want to send leftovers home with anyone, unless there's tons of extra food, because I want the leftovers for my own family. I think that if a guest expects a care package to take home, that is rude and unreasonable. Yet, I know that when I'm a guest at Thanksgiving at my sister's house, it's hard to not have any leftovers the next day at our house.

    10 Replies
    1. re: Bite Me

      In our family we ALWAYS give left overs, especially at Thanksgiving/Christmas. That's why I continue to cook a 19 lb. turkey for 8 -10 people. When we came home from SIL house Christmas night we had enough potatoes, veggies, rolls, stuffing, ham, turkey for 2 meals, plus deserts. Just how we do it.

      1. re: Axalady

        Same with my family. Although my mother must have spent nearly 2 hours making "to-go" plates for everyone after dinner and she was exhausted and getting more than a bit pissy in the end. I told her next year she needs to put away what she wants for the house. Then, put out tupperware containers and let everyone fend for themselves and pack their own take home plates!
        I'm wondering what others think of this solution??

        1. re: SweetPea914

          For Thanksgiving I tell those who are interested in any leftovers to bring their own containers. I still fill them up (and yes it's a pain at the end of a long day) but at least I don't lose the majority of my Tupperware in the process.

          1. re: SweetPea914

            I hit the restaurant/deli supply store and buy the plastic containers that they use for carry-out. Just like the GladWare ones but at a fraction of the cost. Mama used to save food containers (margarine tubs, etc.) for a few months before the holidays but I don't use any processed foods so don't have them.
            Either way, you won't lose your own storage containers. People never return them. They mean to, they just forget...

            1. re: MakingSense

              Some of the Chinese takeout places around here (NYC/Long Island) use these really great flat plastic containers, white on the bottom, clear domed on the top. Some are round, some rectangular. And the soups come in the 1- and 2-pound plastic containers. I try to save some of these--the flatter ones especially are great for holiday leftovers and for freezing portioned out stews and other meals.

              1. re: Shayna Madel

                I love the soup containers! They are like gold. Often the restaurant will sell them or (if you go there a lot) give you a sleeve of containers as a gift! Usually they seemed to find my love of the container humorous. :)

                1. re: Shayna Madel

                  That's exactly what we use (the Asian take-out containers). I even saved up a bunch in the preceeding months and then cleaned out my container cabinet and brought them to my Mom's.

                2. re: MakingSense

                  we set out the to go containers and everyone does there own.

                  1. re: LaLa

                    Good to know, I was concerned that my idea of letting everyone pack their own may seem a bit rude. I think next year it is the way to go!

                    1. re: SweetPea914

                      My family does it that way. As we are cleaning up the offer is made. This way everything gets put away & we don't have to pull things out of the fridge or dirty dishes again. We tend to use a number of zip-locks where possible, takes up less space. We are also good about returning containers, since the whole family understands the often bizarre fixation of the quest for the perfect container! (The maternal mantra heard when unwrapping gifts was "Be careful - thats a good box - we need to save it")

          2. At Thanksgiving we send home leftovers because there is a ton of food. At Christmas we have beef tenderloin and NO ONE gets the leftovers. Not being bitchy but we're the ones who paid $200 for that hunk of meat and go through the work, serve up bottle after bottle of wine and champagne. We do send home desserts that are left (as our family does not have a sweet tooth) but not the beef. And if I was a guest on a holiday (which hasn't happened in over 15 years) I'd happily forgo the leftovers in the name of not having the time and expense of hosting.

            1. I do not see leftovers as a "reward" for helping in the kitchen, nor do I assume that just because there is a lot of food left, the host does not have "plans" for that food, like perhaps having friends over for leftovers the next day, as my sister did on the day after Thanksgiving this year. Perhaps the host is exhausted and decided that the leftover food would be used over the next few days to avoid having to cook. I do not "expect" leftovers when I go to someone else's home and when I cook, I do not specifically plan for enough leftovers to send people home with "care packages." That said, there is always more than enough on the table and generally there are leftovers that get sent home with people, particularly at Thanksgiving, when it tends to be a sort of "eatathon" weekend. I understand that some may choose not to send people home with more expensive leftovers, but I've never seen that distinction in my circle of people.

              1. When I cook for guests there is always more food than we can eat, & the option for them to take leftovers if they ask, I do not push the leftovers on anyone. When I fire up the smoker there is always left over ribs, or pulled pork, and guests typically ask to take some with them.. no problem, I really do not like leftovers, and rarely eat them, so I gladly let them take them.

                2 Replies
                1. re: swsidejim

                  This may seem as somewhat unusual but on the rare occasion that my family (4) are invited out for holidays, I stop by the grocers that offer the prepared holiday dinner-turkey(whole bird),stuffing,potato,veg sides-and buy the dinner the day before the holiday and put in the fridge. The next day I pop the turkey into the oven and heat up the rest so instant leftovers. I have not been disappointed and family gets enough turkey and sides for sandwiches and I get to even make turkey soup without all the long grocery list and prep. When I host the dinner, I try to send home leftovers with guests if asked but since the family is large-20-25-it gets a bit difficult to prepare that much to accomodate leftovers.

                  1. re: foodseek

                    Your solution is what got me thinking about this. I used to know a woman who cooked an entire holiday spread even if she was invited out. At the time, it was a surprising idea to me. I was raised in a tradition that would feel remiss if there was not enough to send home with anyone interested. I have been fortunate enough to be the guest of others who feel this way. This year simply reminded me "different strokes for different folks" and made me curious how others felt about this.
                    BTW: other responses infer an expectation or viewing a gift of goodies as a "reward". Very, very far off base! Was simply setting the scene & providing the details of the evening. For me the "reward" is in the gathering - and the gathering of friends & family is the joy & purpose of a holiday meal!

                2. I'm grateful when they're offered, but I don't expect them.