Turkey Meatloaf: The Loaft-Over

“I invented this meatloaf one night using leftovers. It’s my able-bodied husband’s favorite recipe; he asks for it every week. I am blind and work full-time. This means that it’s hard to find hours to spend preparing food, and going to the store on public transportation requires I choose ingredients with care. I also need help in the grocery, so I don’t like recipes that require I track down lots of exotic ingredients.

This meatloaf is economical, very flavorful, and breaks easily with a fork. You can add more veggies, and unlike many meatloaves that use turkey, it’s always moist. It doesn’t use breadcrumbs, which tend to dry the loaves out and are high in sodium and calories if purchased in a jar.

The measurements are approximate; it’s perfectly okay to use a bit less or more of any ingredient here.”- Deborah Armstrong

Note: Depending on your taste, this recipe could potentially require slightly above average dedication to ingredients or process.

A square meatloaf rests in a dark pan, chopped onions and parsley stick out in places
Make meatloaf using leftovers | Photo by Elizabeth Layman

Reference: Deborah Armstrong, Milpitas, CA
Prep Time: 5-10 minutes + overnight (soaking)
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Serves: 4-6


4 slices dill rye bread (okay if it’s stale)
1 cup BBQ sauce
Catsup (optional)
Ground Pepper to taste
1 large egg or equivalent egg whites or substitute
1 can mushroom pieces, drained (optional)
1 pound ground turkey
1 small potato, scrubbed and grated
2 stalks celery, diced (optional)
1red bell pepper, seeds and ribs removed, diced or broken into small pieces


1. Tear the bread slices in to chunks and place in a bowl. Pour BBQ sauce over it, and if bread isn’t fully covered, add a bit of catsup or milk. Sprinkle in a touch of pepper.
2. Let this mixture soak in the refrigerator overnight or throughout the day while you’re at work.
3. After the bread is thoroughly soggy, stir in the egg, mushrooms, ground turkey, diced celery, and diced red pepper.
4. Bake uncovered in a loaf pan on 350°Fahrenheit for about 45 minutes or until a meat thermometer inserted deep into the center of the loaf tells you it’s safe.

Good to know:

You could also use ground beef, if that is your preferred meat.

Tips from the submitter:

I use a talking meat thermometer I purchased from my favorite cooking supplies vendor: Blind Mice Mart.

If using a knife is difficult, you can buy diced vegetables at the grocery store or dice the pepper and celery in a food processor. You can also ask an attendant or family member to do the small amount of dicing the recipe requires.

You can vary the barbecue sauce from sweet to Smokey to impart different flavors to the loaf. Don’t add salt; the BBQ sauce has plenty of sodium already.

This recipe cooks up well in a toaster oven using the lightweight foil loaf pans, but it works equally well using a heavy glass casserole pan in a gas or convection oven.

It doesn’t make good meatballs, however, because the mixture doesn’t hold together well without a pan.

I like to prepare it for potluck suppers or when visiting friends and coping with the challenges of their unfamiliar kitchens because it’s so quick and easy.


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