Waste Not: 5 Ways to Use Leftover Bread

We've been baking our own weekly bread for a while now, which has been extremely satisfying. But on the downside, we've discovered that our homemade bread stales a lot quicker than store-bought bread. This is to be expected, but still leaves us with the odd third of a loaf now and then. Here are five ways we use up those stale bits!

If you have more than just a few slices left when the bread starts to go stale, you can usually freshen it up for at least one more meal. Just spritz the surface of the loaf with a little water and bake it in a 350° oven for 5-10 minutes.

The loaf will stale much more quickly after this, so use up the remainder in one of these ways:

1. Thicken Soups - We love thick hearty soups when the weather is cold, and throwing in a few chunks of stale bread is a great way to add body to a brothy soup. We can also puree soups with bread to make them creamy without using actual cream!

2. Breadcrumbs - We use breadcrumbs for everything from making a crunchy topping on casseroles to breading chicken before frying. It's easy to make our own and nice to have a few cups ready when we need them.

3. Croutons - In our opinion, crunchy croutons are what turn a simple dinner salad into something we can't wait to dive into! Croutons are also a great garnish for a cup of soup.

4. French Toast and Bread Pudding - Stale bread is the perfect vehicle for custardy, eggy puddings. Make French toast or layer slices of the old bread in a casserole dish to make bread pudding (here are some recipes).

5. Meatloaf and Meatballs - Stale bread is our preferred binder for any kind of shaped meat dishes. In meatloaf or meatballs, the bread absorbs any extra liquid and holds the meat together through cooking.

Bread also freezes extremely well. If we don't have an immediate need for the stale bread, we cut it into slices or cubes (or leave it whole if we're lazy), package it in a freezer container, and throw it in the freezer. It thaws in a few minutes and we can use it however we want!

What do you do with leftover bread?

Related: Five Ways to Use a Serrated Knife Other Than Cutting Bread

(Image: Flickr member foooooey licensed under Creative Commons)

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