Zero Waste Team Encourages Wasting Less Food This Thanksgiving

LAFWP (2).png


Zero Waste Tip: Use your turkey or chicken carcasses to make stock! This is an easy way to make inexpensive and delicious stock, plus, there’s minimal waste.  Keep onion/celery/carrot/leek scraps in the freezer to use in your homemade stock.  

It happens every year: Thanksgiving sandwiches the day after the big event. Turkey soup. Dry mashed potatoes. Tired of the same old leftovers? Try some new recipes to re-use leftover Thanksgiving dinner: Empanadas (hand pies) and Shepherd’s Pie!


  • 2 pie doughs or puffed pastry, store bought or homemade
  • Small bowl with water
  • Melted butter or 1 egg beaten with 1T water
  • Filling ideas: warmed leftovers such as turkey, mashed potatoes and/or sweet potatoes, any leftover vegetables, dressing/stuffing, gravy, and cranberry sauce.

Preheat oven to 400° F. Roll out pie crust or puffed pastry on a lightly floured surface, slightly thinner than you would for a pie crust. Using a knife or pizza cutter, cut dough into 4-5” squares. Many people use a round empanada press, but we at Zero Waste like to use all the dough (though you could bake scraps with cinnamon & sugar- yum!). Place 2-3 T filling (total) on one side of each empanada. Dip a finger into the bowl with water and run your wet finger around the edge of crust. Fold empanada in half and crimp closed with your fingers or a fork. Brush the top of the empanada with melted butter or egg wash. Poke a small hole in the top crust with a knife or a fork to allow steam to escape. Reduce oven temperature to 375° F and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown. For a vegetarian version, leave out the meat and add more veggies. 

Shepherd’s Pie

  • 2 T + 3 T butter
  • ½ onion, diced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 celery stalk, diced
  • 2 ½ c. leftover shredded/cubed turkey meat in a large bowl
  • 1 c. peas, green beans or corn, in bowl with turkey
  • ½ – 1 t. salt 
  • ¼ t. pepper
  • ½ t. fresh or dried thyme
  • 3 T flour
  • 2 c. chicken or turkey stock
  • ¾ c. gravy (leftover, freshly made or jarred)
  • 3 c. mashed potatoes (leftover or freshly made), reheated if necessary
  • ½ c. milk or stock (only needed for softening leftover mashed potatoes)

Preheat oven to 425°F. Melt 2 T butter in large skillet on stovetop to sauté onion, carrot, and celery until soft. Add vegetables to large bowl with turkey meat and mix. In large skillet, melt 3 T butter on medium and quickly whisk in 3 T flour to make a roux. Continue to whisk for 60-90 seconds to cook/slightly brown the flour. Turn heat down to low and add ½ c. stock at a time while whisking constantly, until all stock has been added. Let mixture thicken 1 minute on low heat, stirring constantly. Season with salt, pepper, and thyme. Whisk in gravy. Add in the meat/vegetable mixture and evenly coat the contents with the sauce. Pour into a 9” x 13” baking dish (or similar) and set aside. If using leftover mashed potatoes, heat potatoes. Add in ½ c. milk or stock and re-mash to create soft, fluffy potatoes. Spoon mashed potatoes on top of turkey/vegetable mixture and smooth over, making sure potatoes touch the edges of the baking dish to “seal.” Use the back of the spoon to make a “pattern” in the potatoes, pressing rounded spoon back on potatoes and lift to make a peak, repeat to give the potatoes a little texture.  Reduce heat to 400°F and bake for 30-35 minutes. Broil for 2-4 minutes (watching carefully!) to get an extra crunchy top layer. Let rest 10 minutes before serving. Serves 6+. For a vegetarian version, leave out the meat and add more veggies, and use vegetable or mushroom stock in place of chicken broth.

Turkey or Chicken Stock 

Add poultry carcass/bones, a quartered onion, 2-3 quartered carrots, 2-3 quartered celery stalks to a large stock pot and cover with water.  You can season the broth if you like with peppercorns, bay leaf, a small amount of salt, and any herbs in your fridge that need to be used up. Boil for 90 minutes.  You can strain the stock and re-use contents for a second batch. We like to pull out the carrots, put them in the blender with some broth, then add the carrot purée into the stock.  Allow liquid to cool, and pour into leftover plastic tubs (yogurt, sour cream), leaving a gap for expansion. Store in the freezer until ready to use. You’ll never buy store stock again!  If you don’t want to make the stock right away, keep the bones in the freezer until ready to use. You can also keep vegetable scraps in the freezer to use in your homemade stock. Bon appétit!

If you are interested in getting involved with the Zero Waste Los Alamos Team or have additional questions, please contact