I end up with Thanksgiving leftovers every year, only to find my enthusiasm for them faded after a couple of days. With food costs as high as they are, I want to be more thrifty this year. Do you have any tips for extending the life of leftovers?

I end up with Thanksgiving leftovers every year, only to find my enthusiasm for them faded after a couple of days. With food costs as high as they are, I want to be more thrifty this year. Do you have any tips for extending the life of leftovers?

— Barb M., Ashland



Making the most of leftovers shouldn't mean a week of marathon eating. A freezer is the thrifty cook's friend and deserves a little pre-holiday TLC. Toss out any packaged foods that haven't been used up after a year or appear freezer-burned to make space for Thanksgiving's bounty.

Our favorite items to freeze are the turkey wings, drumsticks and the picked-over carcass for making soups and stews later. Store these pieces in freezer-safe bags and use within six months.

Cooked mashed potatoes can thicken cream soups and keep well in airtight containers in the freezer for up to a year. If reheating potatoes for a side dish, stir 1 to 2 tablespoons milk, broth or water into them and warm over medium-low. Mashed sweet potatoes can be frozen and reheated the same way.

Coincidentally, gravy is another good keeper in the freezer if used within six months and reheated gently. Cranberry sauce, too, with just thawing required.

After stuffing the freezer, look to ethnic cuisines for new flavor profiles. Use shredded turkey in tacos, enchiladas or chili. Toss turkey, as well as leftover green beans or carrots, with peanut sauce and rice noodles for pad Thai. Spice up sandwiches with a curry-flavored mayonnaise. Fill prepared wonton skins with mashed potatoes for pierogis.

Try the accompanying recipe for Turkey Spring Rolls.