Empty Bread Bag? Here Are 4 Tasty, Frugal Bread Alternatives

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While I love my toast and tea in the morning for breakfast (Mmmmm, PB and J!) occasionally, I have to use frugal bread alternatives. You see, I have a small off-grid fridge that can only store one loaf of bread in the freezer at a time. My Half-Acre Homestead is far from a grocery store. Way too far to drive if I run out of bread. It would literally cost me more than TWICE the cost of the loaf in gas to drive to the store and back. Would that be frugal? Heck no, my dear readers!

So, what to do when the bread bag is empty? I draw on my creative inner Frugalite to come up with some bread alternatives! I turn it into a game! Let’s see how long I can last without bread before I have to go to the store. Can I make it until I have a few other errands to run and make that trip to town worth it?  

Now, you might live in the city and have a grocery store around the corner. However, you may run out of bread one night and need something in a pinch. Or you might have a busy week and want to delay a shopping trip just for bread. Perhaps you are trying to be extra frugal this week and stretch your shopping dollars. A couple of these are on the uber Frugalite Cheap Eats list. You might even have all of these thrifty basic ingredients in your pantry right now! 

I hope these bread alternatives come in handy for you somehow!

Alternative #1: Corn Pones

My Mennonite cookbook, aptly titled More with Less, turned me on to these little gems. I just happened upon the recipe and decided to try them. Corn pones truly are like frying a cornbread muffin. 

I always have these basic ingredients in my pantry:

  • cornmeal
  • baking powder
  • milk or milk powder
  • bacon grease or butter
  • a bit of salt

You can whip corn pones up in less than 5 minutes in one bowl and then fry them in a pan. I flatten mine with my flipper. Voila! A pretend piece of bread to spread with PB and J. Yum Yum!

My secret corn pone tip: After making a few that, ummm, kind of fell apart (heartbreaking!) I started adding one egg to my recipe. They have been much sturdier since then. If you like cornbread, you will love these. They would be nice as a “bun” alternative with most meals, too. If you make corn pones to accompany a stew or chili, don’t be shy….add some chili powder or hot pepper flakes and some grated cheese. Delicious!

Alternative #2: Pancakes

Just last week, I ran out of bread and decided to make pancakes as an alternative. Knowing I would be eating these as substitute bread for my breakfast, I added a couple of ripe bananas that had been sitting in my tiny freezer for a bit too long. My pancake recipe (also from my frugal Mennonite cookbook) calls for one cup of flour. I hand-ground some organic wheat berries to make half a cup of flour and mixed it with half a cup of whole wheat flour. 

Instead of the buttermilk called for in the recipe, I substituted my own homemade kefir. Super thrifty, I know! Hee hee! They were delicious. For breakfast, I just spread the peanut butter and jam right on them. Great pretend bread, and I had enough to last several days. Pancakes are a handy snack cold out of the fridge. Just spread some butter on them and maybe some jam. Pretty healthy, too!

Alternative #3: Change it up for Oatmeal

It has been hot lately. Really really hot! So, I won’t be using this thrifty bread alternative this summer. However, come the fall, I love oatmeal. Yes, I know a bowl of oatmeal isn’t BREAD, but it is a grain. In a pinch, when there’s no bread, I grab my jar of oatmeal off the shelf and make up a hot bowl for breakfast. What makes this fun is adding all my favorite treats, like raisins, dried apricots, sunflower seeds, pumpkins seeds….you get the picture! Oh! Don’t forget the cinnamon! I like to garnish my oatmeal with a dollop of homemade kefir and a little bit of maple syrup.

However, there is a way to make something great for breakfast with oatmeal and only a few other ingredients: baking powder, salt, some fat (bacon or butter). If you have these things on hand, then you can make traditional Scottish oatcakes! These turn out best when you grind the oats quite fine. You can bake these in the oven or fry them in a pan. Here is an excellent recipe if you are interested in trying these. 

Alternative #4: Just Bake Some Bread, Already!

Yes, I know: I could bake some bread! However, did I mention it’s hot right now? Having the oven doesn’t appeal. It would add a lot of heat to my kitchen! I do bake bread occasionally. A while ago, I decided I would make ALL of my bread ALL of the time. That lasted….well….that lasted about three loaves. My bread was good, but my organic spelt flour is quite heavy, and my bread didn’t rise very high. It was more like a loaf of biscotti. Haha! 

Surely the urge to bake bread will return. So, I always have a container of yeast/sourdough mix on hand. The very simple recipe is by weight and requires kneading until the dough becomes smooth. The recipe says this may take about 10 minutes, so I set my timer on my phone. It seemed like an eternity….as I kneaded and kneaded and kneaded. It was tough work! Are we there yet? I do manual labor on a farm for a living, and still, my arms were getting tired. It was humbling. Maybe that is why I usually make pancakes when I’m out of bread! There could be a CrossFit training program designed around kneading bread.

When you Need Bread, do you Knead Bread?  

What do you do when you run out of bread, and you can’t get to the store? Do you have frugal bread alternatives you use in a pinch? Do you usually bake your own bread? Please share your tips and ideas in the comments below!

Empty Bread Bag? Here Are 4 Tasty, Frugal Bread Alternatives


Colette is passionate about sharing her knowledge of thrifty living and self-sufficiency. She has developed her skills in self-reliance living in the suburbs, the city, and more recently, on her own Half-Acre Homestead. Colette lived five years completely off-grid and without running water in an eight by 24 foot tiny home while designing and building her own 18 by 24-foot eco-cabin. Her website, Half Acre Homestead is attracting followers from around the world who want to become more self-sufficient.  Colette invites you to stop by the Homestead and check out all of the great resources including the practical How To Guides, A Tiny Home Resource Center and her organic gardening stories on her blog. She shares her wholistic model (body/mind/spirit) for achieving self-sufficiency in her Free Course, "Growing Self-Sufficiency: The Whole Picture." Stop by the Homestead today to register free of charge!

13 thoughts on “Empty Bread Bag? Here Are 4 Tasty, Frugal Bread Alternatives”

  1. And if you are hankering for French toast, slices of zucchini, pumpkin, banana, or other quick breads will do the trick. We’ve always done this with last part of the loaf which was not as moist as when it came out of the oven.

    1. Selena, Mmmmmm. How delicious! I can already see myself having zucchini chocolate bread French toast with my coffee one day. Thanks for this truly creative Frualite tip!

  2. Google Irish soda bread. No yeast required, just flour, baking soda and powder, other pantry staples and 2 minutes of kneading. Paratus Familia has the best recipe and instructions.

    1. Hey I’m Irish, Marie! Irish Soda bread sounds like a MUST! Will check out the recipe you mentioned. Many thanks the the luck o’ the Irish to you!

  3. Sun ovens are great for baking and cooking on hot, sunny days. Those that have a break maker can also bake fresh bread without turning on the oven and heating up the house.

    I keep rice cakes in the pantry also. We like them with peanut butter or tuna salad on top. Rice store here about six months and still taste fresh and crunchy.

    1. Hi Donna, this is thinking outside the box, I mean oven! I will need to look into these. I wonder if I could MAKE one or should I BUY one? I am going to buy some rice cakes on my next trip to town. Just plain forgot about them! I absolutely LOVE them with peanut butter and raisins on top! Thanks for sharing!

  4. Irish soda bread, crepes, grits
    Biscuits are options in a pinch
    There’s also the 5 minute no knead artisan bread recipes (OMGeeee it really works!)

    1. Hi Fireswamp, I clearly need to get my tired hands (and arms!) on these no-knead bread recipes! Is there one you would recommend in particular? Many thanks for all these great suggestions!

    1. Hi Selena, I love this! I am the queen of adapting one bread to another…..two nights ago I had Beans Colette…..not on toast, but on a warmed Greek Pita bread…delicious! Another out of bread hack I use that I didn’t happen to mention in the article was to spread by PB&J on a warmed multigrain tortilla. Then, I roll it up. Yummy! I think by being flexible we might even find a new favourite food! Thanks for sharing your creative ideas with everyone.

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