Thanksgiving break always gives me all the feels. Stomach-grumbling feels, that is. I know I can't be the only one who waits all year for some of the most delicious foods known to our species: mashed potatoes, pumpkin soup, apple pie... just talking about it has me drooling all over my seat. And let's not forget that perfectly-spiced turkey. Never forget the turkey, my friends.

However, I can't just pretend as if leftovers are not a thing. With big family meals come big-time leftovers, and I'm talking about enough leftovers to last for about three weeks of dinners. As a huge advocate of not wasting food, I've gotten pretty skilled at taking leftover meals and making them even better than they originally were. To make it easy on your family this year and to prevent 10 pounds of leftover turkey from being left untouched in the fridge, here are five creative ways to turn this perfect protein into meals even better than Thanksgiving. 

1. Turkey Pot Pie

Everyone associates chicken pot pie with comfort food. I, for starters, am obsessed with the flaky pie crust... I mean, who isn't, to be honest. Bet you didn't know it was just as easy and probably twenty times more delicious to make pot pie with turkey. Turkey pot pie incorporates all of your traditional chicken pot pie favorites, such as peas, carrots, celery, and yes, that scrumptious crust. However, this time, the star of the show is those leftover turkey slices your mom worked so hard to stuff on Thanksgiving day. Try it; it'll be your new favorite comfort food for life.

#SpoonTip: You can even use leftover pie crust for this recipe! 

2. Turkey Panini with Apple & Cheddar

This girl's got a thing for paninis. First of all, bread. Grilled. With melty cheese. Yum. Need I say more? Second, they literally take two minutes to make, if not less. Take bread, fill with cheese, veggies, put in panini maker, and boom! Done. This time, however, do I have a combo for you: leftover turkey, fresh cheddar cheese (optional), and tart apple slices. Just imagine how good that tastes...but don't just let that sit there in your imagination. Get up and go make it for breakfast the day after Thanksgiving! Perfect Black Friday fuel. 

3. Turkey Meatballs with Tomato Basil Sauce

Turkey meatballs are my fave. I actually don't ever make meatballs with ground beef; always turkey. It adds the best taste and turkey is slightly leaner, which is always a great plus. I love eating them on top of chickpea pasta, by themselves with some rice and veggies, or in whole wheat hamburger buns filled with greens, tomatoes, and mustard. Whichever way you eat them, they're a great way to incorporate your leftover turkey. In addition, the already-prepared turkey will add a major flavor boost. All you'll need to do beforehand is ground up your turkey in a food processor. 

4. Turkey Pasta Bake

This is a PSA for all my carbohydrate-loving friends. There's no doubt in my mind that a bowl of pasta mixed with sweet tomato sauce and melted mozzarella makes your taste buds dance the Salsa. So, please, do me a favor, and try baking your pasta. Huge game-changer. This recipe takes baked pasta up a notch with added turkey. It's also a great way to add a bunch of veggies without tasting them! I'm a huge proponent of eating your five a day, of course, and it'd make me soar if you love them already. But for those who have a little trouble getting them in, a pasta bake is an awesome and creative avenue for that, and you won't even feel them. This recipe includes antioxidant-rich kale, but you can always swap for your favorite leafy green. 

5. Turkey Tacos

Let's taco 'bout this meal for a second. Here in the United States, people go crazy for their ground beef tacos filled to the brim with guacamole, salsa, and who knows what else. But I have to be real here... normal beef tacos are nothing compared to turkey tacos. If you're picky, you won't even notice the difference. But for my food connoisseurs out there, one bite and you'll immediately want turkey tacos for the rest of your life. This is also an awesome way to use up leftover cranberry sauce (yes, top your tacos with it!). Leftover roasted pumpkin, squash, or green beans will also make a delicious mesh here. The upcoming #TacoTuesdays are looking good!

#SpoonTip: Make your tacos on romaine lettuce leaves for a satisfying crunch and a health boost!

No more crying every time you open your plastic containers at work the week after the holiday. It's time for your co-workers to be jealous of what you're eating, right? When you tell them what's for lunch, they'll be sad they didn't think about that, too. Just make sure you're nice enough to or two bites.

Happy Thanksgiving... and post-Thanksgiving!