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By the author of The Ultimate Guide to Frugal Living and What to Eat When You’re Broke
If you bake your own bread or buy it from a bakery, you know that fresh bread doesn’t last as long as the squishy, factory-bagged grocery store offerings. That’s because it’s not loaded with preservatives, additives, and softeners. The regular use of fresh bread almost guarantees one thing: stale bread.
Marie’s recent article on making your own breadcrumbs got me thinking about this. I buy my bread from a bakery around the corner and I simply cannot keep up with it. If I made breadcrumbs from all of it, I’d soon be able to build a house with all the crumbs! So how else can you use up your bread once it’s past peak deliciousness?
First of all, it’s important to catch the bread while it’s simply stale. Once it’s moldy, I’m not personally too keen on using it. I generally toss my bread into the freezer after a few days so that it doesn’t get beyond the point I can use it.
Seven ways to use stale bread
Here are some ideas you might like for using up stale bread.
Chicken and dressing
This is one of my most common uses. In a trick I learned from my sweet mother-in-law, I keep an old ice cream bucket in the freezer with odds and ends of bread. Crusts that have been cut off, bread that was about to go stale, dinner rolls, and the like can all go into the bucket.
Whenever I’m going to make roasted chicken (or even roasted chicken pieces), I pull out the bucket and lay the bread on a baking sheet in a single layer. I pop this in the oven for an hour or so at about 200 degrees to thoroughly dry it out. Then I chop it up and turn it into dressing (in the South) or stuffing (in the North.) Just use the bread bits in your own favorite recipe. Your family will be certain they accidentally stumbled into a holiday dinner!
My friend Scott loves bread pudding and has tried many different recipes for it. He says that stale bread soaks up the liquid better. While he tends to improvise his recipe, you might like this one. It doesn’t have any expensive or exotic ingredients and you probably already have everything you need on hand.
Really, this is like a bowl of French toast. (Which, of course, is another use for stale bread.) You can even drizzle some maple syrup on top of your pudding!
Make your own “stovetop stuffing” mix
This is another awesome use for odds and ends of bread in your freezer bucket. I find this is best done in a dehydrator for efficiency – using the oven all day will heat up your house and use a fair bit of power. Dice your bread up into small, uniform pieces and thoroughly dehydrate it. When it’s done, put it in a large bowl and add dehydrated onion flakes, sage, salt, pepper, and celery seed. You can also use Poultry Seasoning. (Check out my DIY spice blends here.)
Toss everything well and store it in a jar with a tight-fitting lid. When it comes time to use it, I like 1/2 cup of broth and a tsp of butter to 2 cups of stuffing mix. Bring the broth/butter to a boil, then remove it from the heat and stir in the mix. Let it sit for about five minutes, and you’re good to go!
Cut your bread into 1/2-inch to 1-inch cubes, based on your preferences. Toss it in olive oil and sprinkle it with your favorite seasonings. (I like garlic and onion powder, paprika, and a teeny pinch of salt.)
Spread it on a baking sheet and bake it at 375 degrees, stirring regularly. Let them cool completely before putting them in a jar for storage.
This isn’t my favorite use, but people in Greece seem to LOVE it. Here, a lot of restaurants used “rusks” as the base of dishes like pasta or salad. A rusk is a piece of twice-baked bread, usually made from yesterday’s loaf. They generally have some olive oil and garlic on top. They’re so popular you can even get them packaged.
I started making this when I lived in Montenegro in an apartment that had no toaster and no oven. Simply slather butter on both sides of your bread and pop it in the frying pan as though you’re making a grilled cheese. Get each side lightly browned for a crisp, delicious outside and a soft center.
Something in my current apartment is a small grill that is used for making toast or for making grilled sandwiches. You assemble your sandwich, add butter or olive oil to the outside of the bread, and smash it together in a preheated grill for about five minutes.
It’s tasty, warm, and so much more satisfying than a cold sandwich. I think it should be the law that all grilled sandwiches contain cheese to get gooey and delicious, don’t you?
What about you?
Do you have any uses for stale bread that aren’t listed here? Do you make your own bread or buy fresh bread? What do you do with it when it’s past peak perfection?
Let’s discuss stale bread in the comments section!
Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, adventure-seeking, globe-trotting blogger. She is the founder and publisher of three websites. 1) The Organic Prepper, which is about current events, preparedness, self-reliance, and the pursuit of liberty; 2) The Frugalite, a website with thrifty tips and solutions to help people get a handle on their personal finances without feeling deprived; and 3) PreppersDailyNews.com, an aggregate site where you can find links to all the most important news for those who wish to be prepared. Her work is widely republished across alternative media and she has appeared in many interviews.
Daisy is the best-selling author of 5 traditionally published books, 12 self-published books, and runs a small digital publishing company with PDF guides, printables, and courses at SelfRelianceand Survival.com You can find her on Facebook, Pinterest, Gab, MeWe, Parler, Instagram, and Twitter.
4 thoughts on “7 Delicious Ways to Use Up Stale Bread”
I was going to say “bread pudding” but you beat me to it. I started making it after finding a recipe at a church breakfast. My kids love it.
My strategy is a bit different so I never get the stale bread problem. Purchased bread is immediately plastic bagged in slice groups — each bag holds one day’s use. Then in those bags (which may or may not have a zip-lock seal — it’s not needed but it’s not in the way) they immediately go into the freezer. Then late at night the next day’s bag gets pulled out to thaw while the rest remains frozen. The bags keep you from having to separate hard frozen slices that fight you to stay together.
That strategy works as long as there is electric power for the freezer. A long term power outage needs some different planning especially when your local grocers may be shut down and unavailable for your shopping. IF you have stored the grain, the yeast, etc and you have a hand-crankable kitchen countertop grain/bean/nut flour mill … you can turn enough grain as needed into flour very quickly to bake as much or as little bread as you need — while taking into consideration your local temperature and how little bread you need to make for short term use — whether that’s a day, several days, or longer.
So how to bake if your power or gas is shut off? A long time ago I had great success with steam baking over rising steam from whatever water source was available. Even if that water was contaminated the first few minutes of boiling would allow any VOC-type contaminates to boil away so they didn’t cause a problem. Any off-grid source of heat for such boiling could be camp stoves that use propane or butane, outside wood or wood pellet stoves, solar heat (parabolic, Fresnel lens, etc, etc).
Some of the tastiest gingerbread I ever made used freshly ground ginger for a steam baking process over rising steam. It put the commercial breads to shame and could be made over a camp fire. Such bread never got a chance to become stale.
When I was growing up, we heated with a wood stove that enabled us to do some cooking without using the kerosene stove. We often cooked our toast, which we referred to as “ranch toast”, as you describe as fried bread.
I would say toss a slice in your brown sugar container for a two-fer. Might revive the bread and help keep the brown sugar soft.
An egg strata is another use. I liken the strata to a casserole – base ingredients and add what you have on hand.