Dinner Plans: Roast Turkey

Prep 3 Delicious Meals from Your Thanksgiving Turkey

Roast Turkey

The Spruce / Diana Rattray

“Thanksgiving” and “leftovers” are practically synonymous, but you can only eat so many turkey sandwiches. This year, roast a classic, herb-scented bird and use the extras to make two more easy dinners over the long weekend.

Game Plan

Prep time: 4 hours 30 minutes

  1. Buy a larger bird than you need—three or four additional pounds should provide enough leftovers for two more meals. Follow the recipe’s timing suggestion: roughly 13 minutes per pound.
  2. While it roasts, prepare your sides. The turkey will need time to rest once it’s done, so you’ll have access to the oven then.
  3. After the feast, get the leftovers into the fridge ASAP. Use two forks to shred five cups of turkey meat (it’s easier while it’s warm). Put three cups in one container, two cups in another, and refrigerate. Remove any remaining meat from the bones and let your guests divvy it up to take home. 
  4. Refrigerate or freeze the carcass for turkey stock.

Prep Day Thanksgiving Dinner

This butter-and-herb basted turkey will elicit oos and ahs at the Thanksgiving table. Serve it with stuffing muffins, roasted green beans, and, of course, gravy (you’ll find instructions for that at the end of the turkey recipe). And don’t feel compelled to cook the entire dinner yourself! Ask guests to bring sweet potato casserole, cranberry sauce, and desserts.

Roasted Turkey
The Spruce / Diana Rattray

Getting Dinner on the Table

  • After the turkey’s been in the oven for about 2 hours, get your stuffing muffins prepped and into the muffin tin.
  • Next trim and oil the green beans and spread onto the baking sheet. 
  • When the turkey comes out, put the stuffing into the oven. 
  • Thirty minutes later, add the tray of green beans.
  • While the sides are baking, make the gravy. Carve the turkey.

Chow Mein Night 

Time: 25 minutes

Fresh vegetables + noodles + leftover turkey = Turkey Chow Mein, a one-bowl dinner that brings in some flavors from Chinese culinary traditions. After all the cooking you did yesterday, you deserve a night with minimal effort, and this meal is on the table in less than half an hour.

Turkey Chow Mein
The Spruce

Getting Dinner on the Table

  • Use the container with 3 cups of shredded turkey.
  • Stir-fries cook lightning-fast, so make sure you have all your ingredients prepped and ready to go before you heat the skillet.
  • Chinese egg noodles are perfect for this but if you don’t have any on hand, spaghetti or linguine will taste great, too.
  • If you have any leftover green beans from Thanksgiving, chop them into bite-size pieces and toss them in when you add the turkey.
  • Get ahead on prep day: For an even quicker meal, prep the veggies ahead of time and stash in the fridge.

Enchilada Night 

Time: 40 minutes

Turkey makes a perfect substitute for chicken in this recipe for Enchiladas Suizas, which originates in Central Mexico. Thanks to the spinach in the filling you don’t even need a side dish, but sliced avocado and 10-minute Mexican rice are always welcome. 

Enchiladas Suizas
Enchiladas Suizas with red sauce, rice and beans.

Getting Dinner on the Table

  • You can assemble the enchiladas ahead of time and refrigerate until dinnertime—refrigerate the sauce separately, and pour it over just before the dish goes into the oven. Plan for an additional 15 minutes of baking time since everything will be cold.
  • Make the rice while the enchiladas bake. Add a can of black beans for an even heartier meal.

Essential Info

Here's some helpful information about turkey:

About Dinner Plans

Making quick weeknight dinners is easier when you start with a few building blocks. Dinner Plans is a realistic roadmap to help you achieve that goal, by putting in a few hours of work (planning, shopping, and prepping) at the outset. Preparing a big batch of one ingredient (protein, vegetables, or grains) gives you the flexibility to plan a variety of meals. And who knows? You just might discover your new favorite weeknight recipe in the process!

Show everyone how together you are: Instagram your meal prep photos and tag them #thespruceeats.