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10 easy ways to use up your Christmas leftovers

Everyone knows Christmas is all about the leftovers, but this year why not be a little more creative with those delicious festive morsels? According to Unilever's Project Sunlight, 4.2 million Christmas dinners are wasted every year - don't let yours be one of them! Our inventive leftover recipes and clever tips will make sure your Christmas meals stretch that bit further.

  1. Assemble the perfect sarnie

    Sometime's simple is best. Pile up all your favourite leftovers in a towering sandwich that's fit for a Boxing Day feast. To take things up a notch, grab inspiration from America with a French dip turkey sandwich idea, it's not only packed with turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce and sprouts (yes, sprouts too!), but also oozing cheese and a gravy on the side for dunking. As an alternative to a sarnie, these turkey Chelsea buns are layered up with meats, veggies and cheese before rolling up and baking, the perfect savoury snack.

    Assemble the perfect sarnie
  2. Spice up your turkey

    Every year, 7.9m slices (263,000 turkeys) are wasted every year*. To prevent yours going to waste, carve any leftovers straight away, cool to room temperature and then transfer to an airtight container in the fridge or freezer. After all the classic flavours of Christmas Day, that leftover turkey meat is crying out for some zingy spice to give it a new lease of life. A turkey curry is a classic and you can make this turkey biryani as hot as you like by varying the curry paste you use. For a fragrant and warming heat, this North African-inspired turkey stew has the zesty, smoky flavours of orange, ras el hanout and chorizo to mix things up. As for the classics, it's hard to go wrong with a hearty turkey and cannellini pie.

    Spice up your turkey
  3. Upgrade red wine

    One glass left in that bottle of nice red you had with dinner? Don't throw it away, try turning it into a festive pud so you can enjoy it in a different way. This mulled wine granita is easy to whip up and stash in the freezer for a gorgeous dessert when guests pop over during the holidays. 

    Upgrade red wine
  4. Serve sprouts for supper

    Got leftover sprouts? You're not alone - 17.2m are wasted every year*. Turn those dreaded Brussels sprouts into a midweek dinner that the whole family will love by slicing them up and cooking them into something familiar. Toss them into this Thai-style beef stir-fry  or these crispy sprout and chestnut baked crêpes as you would with cabbage or leeks, or stir through this prosciutto and goat's cheese pasta for an Italian twist.

    Serve sprouts for supper
  5. Bring on brunch

    Thick slices of gammon and ham are the perfect base for a hearty brunch to set you up for full-on family days and chilly winter walks. Chop into an omelette or use in this indulgent cheese and egg-topped croque madame.

    Bring on brunch
  6. Mix and match cheese

    A Christmas cheeseboard may mean you're left with lots odds and ends of different cheeses that you're not sure what to do with. Turn them into something substantial with a classic cauliflower cheese, hearty mac and cheese (which also uses up leftover ham) or a super comforting bowl of cheese, potato and onion soup with crispy sage. All are ideal for an easy winter dinner. Simply swap out the existing cheese for whatever you have to make up the same amount, you might end up with a nutty Emmental base, rich blue cheese sauce or crumbly goat's cheese topping... let your imagination run wild!

    Mix and match cheese
  7. Get crafty with cranberries

    Having panic bought more bags of cranberries than you actually needed for the Christmas lunch, you may be wondering what to do with the rest of them. It's easy to balance their tart flavour in an indulgent dessert such as this croissant bread and butter pudding. Buttery croissants (leftover from yesterday's breakfast perhaps) are layered with cranberry sauce (use up the last of your homemade or what's left in the jar), whole berries and orange zest then all baked in a creamy cinnamon custard. 

    For something simpler, try garnishing festive drinks with whole berries such as in the cranberry vodka punch; you could even add frozen berries straight from the freezer to act as pretty ice cubes. 

    Get crafty with cranberries
  8. Crumble up Christmas pudding

    Love it or hate it, most of us still serve up Christmas pudding every year. Although delicious eaten cold with cream after the big day, you could try and convert even pudding haters by using it to add subtle spicy fruitiness to a classic dessert. This Christmas pudding crumble tops a traditional apple and blackberry fruit base with a nutty, buttery crumble with small bits of Christmas pud mixed in. 

    Crumble up Christmas pudding
  9. Make a hash of it

    Leftovers are meant for throwing together with minimal effort which is where the humble hash comes into its own. Crushing together cooked potatoes, veg and meat then baking or frying creates something comforting and rustic that's equally good for breakfast, lunch or dinner. 11.3m roast potatoes are wasted after Christmas, along with 22.8m carrots and parsnips and 7.9m cups of stuffing - and all of these can be used up together*. This potato and stuffing hash recipe is the perfect easy recipe to start with, then try adding to it with whatever leftovers you have.

    Make a hash of it
  10. Give panettone a makeover

    Often given as gifts, you might end up with some slices of this festive Italian cake left over. Treat it like brioche and use as the base for an impressive brunch; try toasted panettone with ginger mascarpone or baked French toast with cherries that also uses up some more of that cranberry sauce. For an impromptu dessert, layer up slices in this impressive panettone and orange cake – the panettone takes the place of the sponge so there's no baking involved.

    *All stats from Unilever's Project Sunlight #clearaplate campaign, 2015.

    Give panettone a makeover