We all have that old, slightly crusty loaf of bread sitting on the kitchen counter from time to time. Perhaps you forgot all about it. Maybe you didn’t feel like eating it. Now that the loaf is a few days old already, you just don’t know what to do with it. Here are 5 simple ideas and recipes for using up that leftover bread. Forget about old and crusty! Make it taste good again with some of these bread ideas and recipes!
In a frugal kitchen, everything can be used up so that there is no waste.
As a very general rule, a packaged or even homemade loaf of bread can be eaten within 5-7 days. Bakery rolls and buns should be eaten within 2-3 days. There are many factors which can affect the shelf life of a loaf of bread and you can find out more about bread expiration date guidelines here.
Mini Bread Baskets
This is a great recipe for using up leftover sliced bread as well as bits and pieces of leftover fresh veggies, cold meats, sausages or cheeses you might have in the fridge. Some ideas for chopped fresh veggies which taste good in this recipe are: bell peppers, tomatoes, spring onions, chillies, mushrooms and onions. You could also use a tablespoon of baked beans, with or without tomato sauce.
Oil a muffin tray. Fit a slice of bread into each muffin cup. Use your fingers to press it down gently in the middle and on the sides, creating a ‘mini basket’ in which to add other ingredients. Crack an egg into each basket and add toppings of your choice. Add, for example, a couple of mushroom slices, some chopped spring onions, a small block of cheese or sausage. Season with salt and pepper. Bake in a preheated oven at 180 C° until eggs are done (usually in a few minutes). Serve immediately.
Bread loaf bake
This is another easy-to-make, economical recipe. Use up leftover bread of any kind to make another loaf of bread, but much tastier.
Whisk 4 eggs. Cut up about half a loaf of bread, or more, or less if you like. Toss the bread pieces into the eggs and allow to soak for at least 5 minutes. Add 4-5 sprigs of finely chopped spring onions, 2-3 crushed cloves garlic and season with salt and pepper. Mix well and pour into a small, well-oiled bread loaf tin. Bake in a preheated oven at 180 C° until firm or until a toothpick inserted in the centre of the loaf comes out clean. Allow to cool on a wire rack. Slice and serve.
For a less frugal variation, add half a bell pepper or a handful of mushrooms to the mixture.
Did you know that, despite its name, French toast does not originate in France? The recipe for French toast dates back to as early as the 4th century, when it was first mentioned by Apicus in his collection of ancient Roman recipes. Today, it is a widely popular method of using up any kind of leftover bread.
Slice old bread into at least 1cm thick slices. Dip each slice into a mixture of beaten eggs and a bit of milk. For half a loaf of bread, you are probably going to need 3 eggs. For a sweeter variation of the mixture, add a pinch of cinnamon or a few drops of vanilla. Fry each dipped slice in a pan of oil, flipping the slices over as needed. Place each fried slice onto a paper towel to absorb oil for a few minutes before serving. Alternatively, fry slices in a pan coated only with Spray ‘n’ Cook.
For a savoury option, serve French toast with butter, cheese or plain yoghurt. As a much sweeter alternative, serve French toast with ice-cream, whipped cream, fruit yoghurt, stewed or fresh fruit and/or a variety of syrups: Golden syrup, Maple syrup, Chocolate sauce. For a more frugal choice, enjoy it plain.
Croutons are a wonderful addition to just about any soup or even salad. Most crouton packets bought in stores nowadays average between R15-25 for what seems like a serving for 2 or maybe 3 people. Croutons are so easy and quick to make at home using leftover bread for a lot less than that. Another advantage to making them yourself is that you can season the croutons however you like.
Cut up bite sized chunks of bread, roughly 1cm x 2cm, or even less. Toss them into a bowl. Drizzle with a bit of oil (preferably olive oil) and season with any herbs or spices that would taste good for you. I like to add a bit of rosemary or paprika from time to time but salt and pepper taste just as good on their own. Spread the oiled chunks on a baking tray and grill at 220C° until the croutons are crisp and golden brown. Serve immediately, or keep in an airtight container until you need them.
The reason I never buy breadcrumbs in supermarkets is because the cheaper, no- name brand at the bakeries, tend to be sold in very large packets, and I never need to use that much at any given time. Buying smaller packets costs more, so I feel it’s a bit of a waste, especially as I can actually make breadcrumbs at home, and so can you. It’s very easy. Make as much as you need when you need them.
Break up whatever leftover bread you have into smaller chunks. Layer the chunks on a baking tray and leave in a preheated, but now switched off, oven until all the moisture from the bread has evaporated. Allow to cool. Use a coffee grinder to grind chunks, one or two at a time, into breadcrumbs. Grind them as fine as you need them to be. For slightly coarser breadcrumbs, grate the chunks or break them up by hand.
Do you have any ideas for using up crusty, old bread? I would love to hear from you!
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