5 Extra-Simple Post-Thanksgiving Meals You Can Prep Ahead

updated Nov 25, 2019
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Credit: Joe Lingeman

Facing the kitchen so soon after Thanksgiving can be a daunting prospect. But the leftovers will only last so long and you’ve still got to eat. While you might not have the time (or the fridge space!) for a full meal planning session, tackle a few easy tasks to ease back into your regular mealtime routine. Finish up the odds and ends from your holiday grocery haul and pick up some supermarket shortcuts for an extra-easy post-holiday meal plan.

1. Shrimp Fried Rice

If you only have energy to make one thing during this post-Thanksgiving week, it’s gotta be rice. “Leftover” rice is the star ingredient for shrimp fried rice. After a marathon weekend of cooking (and cleaning dishes) this 15-minute, one-pan meal is a holiday hangover cure. Plan ahead and add a bag of frozen shrimp and frozen peas to your holiday shopping list so that you can start the week without hitting the store.

Get the recipe: Shrimp Fried Rice

Credit: Joe Lingeman

2. Easy Pumpkin Soup

If you have an extra can of pumpkin purée after the big meal, turn it into a creamy soup. Add spice to the soup with cumin and ginger. You can even make it ahead of time, but wait to add the maple syrup and heavy cream until you serve it. Finish with crunchy pepitas and leftover Thanksgiving rolls for dunking.

Get the recipe: How to Make Pumpkin Soup in 20 Minutes

Credit: Joe Lingeman

3. Healthy Baked Oatmeal

After a weekend of indulgences, it’s time to get on a more regular schedule, starting with breakfast. Measure and mix oatmeal ingredients right in the baking dish. Rest overnight before baking in a warm oven. The soak gives the oatmeal a creamy custard-like texture that’s just right for topping with leftover apple pie filling. Reheat all week long with a splash of milk each morning.

Get the recipe: Healthy Make-Ahead Baked Oatmeal

Credit: Joe Lingeman

4. Vegetarian Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potato casserole is one of my favorite Thanksgiving dishes, so I always buy too many of the orange tubers. This week, serve them stuffed with smoky black beans and a chipotle-yogurt drizzle. Make it easy by baking the extra sweet potatoes ahead of time. Stir the bean mixture together but don’t bother heating it until dinnertime. While you’ve got the can of chipotle chiles open stir the sauce together, and dinner is practically done.

Get the recipe: Vegetarian Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

5. Whole Citrus-Braised Chicken in the Slow Cooker

It’s been a week since the turkey was roasted, and with leftovers long gone you can safely prep poultry again. Season the chicken, cut the citrus, and separate the garlic cloves in advance, refrigerating everything until you are ready to cook. This recipe is perfect for using up the last few sprigs of herbs from your holiday grocery haul, so mix and match with what you have. Citrus is finally back in season, and after a heavy holiday meal this slow-cooked chicken offers a light and fresh taste to finish the week.

Get the recipe: Whole Citrus-Braised Chicken in the Slow Cooker