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Thanksgiving Planned-Overs

You may be thinking, “What is a Planned-Over?” I first heard that term about 10 years ago. Basically, it’s when we intentionally cook an extra quantity of food so we have it for future meals. It’s a creative term used to rid leftovers of their traditional bad image. It’s also a smart way to reduce energy and save cooking time for those “planned-over” meals. I’ve grown to love the concept and the term. When I say it in conversation, I usually get a puzzled look complete with the nose crinkle. Once the term is explained, the response is usually “Oh, that’s smart,” or “Oh, I do that too.”

Especially at holiday gatherings, my family wants to ensure there is enough food. That leads to having vast quantities of everything, which also yields many planned-overs. Most people I know have similar situations. It’s a nice problem to encounter. My mom’s solution is to always have a plentiful stash of food storage bags and airtight containers. She dishes up the food and sends it home with each of us. The college-aged members of the family always enjoy having the homemade extras! It’s also a way for us to get a variety, even though we only prepared one or two items.

Some foods (like chili) actually improve their flavor when reheated. Personally, I like reheated turkey and gravy. I make it into an open-face sandwich with a slice of bread as the base, a scoop of mashed potatoes, then the turkey and gravy. It’s simple, tasty and very filling! Many of these components can feature Simple Truth Organic or Natural products. There are fresh or frozen Simple Truth Natural or Organic Young Turkeys and four varieties of Organic Simple Truth Potatoes. The Simple Truth Organic Chicken Broth provides a great start for gravy. There’s no better way to eat well and know your food is earth and animal friendly.

The planned-over turkey has many possibilities. It can be reheated, made into sandwiches or chopped for a salad topper. Turkey is easily substituted for chicken in recipes like chicken salad, chicken noodle soup, chicken pot pie, enchiladas or shredded barbecue. For more ideas, check out our “Gobble Up Your Turkey Leftovers” post.

All varieties of the Simple Truth Young Turkeys will also freeze well. Simply remove the meat from the bones, divide into desired portions, then wrap tightly in foil or place in freezer-safe, airtight containers/bags. Since there’s no salt added as brine for the Simple Truth Turkey, add some Simple Truth Organic Chicken Broth to keep it moist and extend the freezer time. Dressing and gravy can also be frozen if kept separate. Check out the following chart for safe food storage times according to the USDA website: .

  • Refrigerator (40? F or below)
    • Cooked turkey — 3 to 4 days
    • Cooked dishes and gravy — 3 to 4 days
  • Freezer (0? F or below)
    • Turkey, plain: slices or pieces — 4 months
    • Turkey, covered with broth or gravy — 6 months
    • Cooked poultry dishes, stuffing and gravy — 4 to 6 months

As you may know, the Simple Truth product line is exclusively available at the Kroger Family of Stores located in 31 states. As part of our customer loyalty program, our best shoppers receive periodic publications featuring recipes. The following recipe for Turkey Casserole was one of the highlighted items, using some of the popular holiday foods. It’s easy, hardy and helps use up those planned overs!

Turkey Casserole
Serves 6
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 40 minutes


  • 4 cups prepared stuffing, divided
  • 4 cups cooked turkey, coarsely chopped
  • ¾ cup mayonnaise, divided
  • ¼ cup whole-berry cranberry sauce
  • 2 cups mashed potatoes
  • 1 ½ cup (6 oz) mozzarella cheese, shredded


  1. Preheat oven to 375? F. Spray 8-inch baking dish with Simple Truth Organic Canola Oil Cooking Spray.
  2. Spoon 2 cups of stuffing into pan, then top it with the turkey.
  3. Combine ¼ cup of mayonnaise with the cranberry sauce, then spread the mixture evenly over the turkey.
  4. In large bowl, combine remaining ½ cup of mayonnaise, mashed potatoes and cheese. Spread the mixture on top of the turkey. Top with remaining 2 cups of stuffing.
  5. Bake 40 minutes or until heated through.
  6. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.
  7. Refrigerate any remaining casserole.

What food do you prepare for planned-overs?

Karen Ilhardt

Karen’s role as Home Economist in the Kroger Customer Connect (C|c) is to answer customer questions and write about recipes, ingredient substitutions, and Food Safety.  She holds BS and MS degrees from The Ohio State University’s College of Home Economics with a specialty in Resource Management.  Karen also has teaching credentials from Miami University (of Ohio) and Wright State University. 

After having been a food teacher for 20 years she transferred to the corporate world in 2011.  Farming and crafting have always been a part of her life.  Karen values being part of our food production and preparation processes PLUS  being able to share those experiences with others.  The Simple Truth Brand embraces the wholesome nature of the foods we select and consume which makes a perfect choice for Karen’s lifestyle.

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