Blessed with Thanksgiving leftover dilemma | Living with Gleigh

If you cooked Thanksgiving dinner at home, you are now faced with a dilemma – how do you fit all of that food back into the fridge?

It starts before Thanksgiving even begins: that bird can monopolize a lot of space as it sits and thaws for several days. I put mine in my biggest mixing bowl and every morning when I open the fridge to grab half and half for my morning coffee, I poke the bird to see if it responds. It never does, but I can tell its thawing is progressing.

I start making food a few days in advance so I don't have to cook everything on Thanksgiving Day, but then I have to juggle casserole dishes of Thanksgiving fare with every day food. Every time something goes in, either something must go out or all the containers need to be rearranged.

Then just when I think I can't fit anymore into the fridge, I remember something I forgot. I pray I'll find a nook or cranny for that carton of cream or those cans of whip cream. Once I shove them in, I hope as people open the fridge for normal food items, something doesn't roll out and explode on impact.

And did you notice your family still expects you to feed them up until Thanksgiving Day? Any meals I plan leading up to Thanksgiving Day are simple and produce no leftovers.

This residual dilemma of needing the fridge for everyday food can be an inconvenience. I find myself encouraging only beverages that come out of the door of the fridge (water) and snacking on unhealthy food they can find in the pantry. Cereal is probably not a good idea because it would require milk. If they try to get the milk out they’ll have to remove the condiments precariously stacked around the milk in my efforts to find more space. I'm not beyond directing my family to canned goods and a can opener, as long as they eat the whole can.

After I've prepared for days for our Thanksgiving feast, it is over in about 20 minutes; a half hour if people have seconds. Then I am faced with getting all the food back into the fridge. It seems this should be easier because much food has been consumed, but for some reason the volume of food seems to grow.

I strip the turkey and put the leftovers in a plastic container. All the side dishes also go into storage dishes; remember I added a couple recipes on Thanksgiving Day. Everything is once again stacked precariously in refrigerator. If you take one thing out, chances are you’ll be removing five other things just to get to the food you’re after. If containers are not stacked carefully, there is again risk of spontaneous explosion upon impact with the floor.

Before all the leftovers are consumed, I make turkey soup with the stripped turkey carcass. I don’t usually have a plastic storage container large enough to hold all the soup, so the large soup pot has to be stored in the refrigerator as well. It’s just as big as the defrosting turkey was. So the circle of leftovers starts once again.

A week after Thanksgiving, my family is turkeyed-out, the side dishes are consumed and we are back to everyday dinner recipes. The refrigerator’s internal status is back to manageable leftover proportions while visions of turkey drums dance in our heads.

I have to say, having too much food is not an unpleasant dilemma considering all of the people who went hungry on Thanksgiving Day and all the those displaced from their homes by the past couple months' storms across the country.

We are truly blessed by this dilemma of how to fit all the leftovers into our refrigerator.

Gretchen Leigh is a stay-at-home mom who lives in Covington. She is committed to writing about the humor amidst the chaos of a family. You can also read more of her writing and her daily blog on her website Her column is available every week at under the Lifestyles section.

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