Christmas food safety: how to use leftovers

When dinner has been served, eaten and digested on Christmas Day, there’s a good chance you’ll have plenty of leftovers. Indeed, according to the Love Food Hate Waste campaign, every year in the UK 86 million Christmas turkeys and chickens are thrown away uneaten.

If you don’t make the most of your leftovers, it may be because you’re not sure how to store and re-use them safely. So here is official advice from the Food Standards Agency about loving your leftovers:

  • Cool any leftovers at room temperature, then cover them and ensure that they go in the fridge or freezer within one to two hours. If you have a lot of one type of food, splitting it into smaller portions will help it to cool quickly and means you can freeze and defrost only what you need for future dishes.
  • You can freeze cooked turkey, other cooked meat and meals made from cooked and frozen meat. But once defrosted, you should eat the food within 24 hours.
  • You can use previously cooked and frozen turkey to make a new meal, such as a turkey curry. This new meal can be frozen too, but make sure you only reheat it once.
  • When you come to use frozen leftovers, make sure you defrost them thoroughly in the fridge overnight or in a microwave (on the defrost setting) and then reheat until steaming hot.
  • Don’t forget: leftovers should be eaten or frozen within two days (one day for rice dishes).

Need some inspiration? There are lots of recipes on Love Food Hate Waste’s website, including one for Christmas pizza. Or you could combine leftover Stilton cheese with that panettone that wasn’t even opened on Christmas Day to make white stilton and apricot toasts.

Alternatively if you’ve had enough of heavy, rich meals, why not try this lighter way to use your turkey leftovers?

Coronation turkey salad

Serves two


  • 1tsp medium curry powder
  • 1tbsp Branston original pickle
  • 2tbsp mayonnaise
  • 300g leftover turkey meat, chopped or shredded
  • 2tbsp olive oil
  • 1tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 cucumber
  • 1 bag watercress salad
  • Handful of flaked toasted almonds
  • Crusty bread, to serve


  1. In a large bowl, mix together the curry powder, pickle and mayonnaise. Add the turkey and toss to coat the meat completely.
  2. In a small bowl, mix the olive oil and lemon juice with a little seasoning.
  3. Halve the cucumber lengthways and use a teaspoon to scoop out all the seeds.Chop into half-moon slices.
  4. Divide the watercress and cucumber between two plates. Dress with the olive oil and lemon juice mixture then top with the coronation turkey.
  5. Finally, scatter with the almonds and serve with crusty bread.

(Recipe from

If your waistband already feels tighter than it did before the holidays, start the New Year by asking your local Careway pharmacist for tips on shedding those excess Christmas pounds. Find your nearest Careway pharmacy by using our Pharmacy Finder.