Freshly baked bread is one of my favorite things. Just like many other foods, fresh is usually better.
However, day-old bread is one food that shouldn't be thrown away just because it's lost its freshness. We all have had that experience where you go to slice a loaf of bread and it’s SO dry and crumbly. You want to use it up before it goes to the dark side, but you’re unsure of what to use it for.
Here are three ways you can use day-old bread to prevent food waste and repurpose it to make something new.
1) Homemade Croutons
Croutons are the perfect solution for day-old bread because, in order for croutons to become nice little crunchy meal toppers, you want the bread to be dried out. Moisture = sogginess.
And nobody wants a soggy crouton. Am I right?
Making your own croutons is so easy. All you need are a few simple ingredients you most likely already have in your cupboard.
What Kind of Bread Should You Use?
I highly recommend sourdough (either making your own or store-bought), ciabatta, baguette, gluten-free, sprouted wheat, spelt, etc.
If Using Store-Bought Day Old Bread
It’s better to buy bread from the bakery at your local supermarket instead of the bread aisle or get it from a stand-alone bakery.
At a supermarket, bread from the bread aisle is often heavily processed, meaning they’re full of weird ingredients and fillers to bulk up the bread. There are a couple of exceptions here, but overall the bakery is where you want to go.
Store-bought croutons are usually not the healthiest options since they’re made with a laundry list of ingredients and often contain dairy (so be mindful of that).
Once you realize how simple and deliciously addicting these are, you’ll never throw out day-old bread again.
Day Old Bread Croutons
- 4 cups of day-old bread* cubed see notes below
- 2 tablespoons avocado or olive oil
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- On a large pan lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat, spray or drizzle the bread with oil and spices and then mix together with your hands to coat each piece.
- Spread out the cubes into one layer, making sure not to overcrowd them.
- Bake the croutons for 10 minutes* (see notes below).
- If you have less than 4 cups, you’ll likely want to use less seasoning. You can eyeball it, just make sure to put salt in your palm first, so you see the actual amount you’re adding.
- You may need to do longer than 10 minutes. It’ll depend on how dry your bread is. If you want the croutons to be a little bit chewy still, stop after the 10-minute mark. If you want them to be crunchier, bake for 2 more minutes and check them again until they’ve reached your desired consistency. Keep in mind that they will harden a little as they cool.
- Store in an airtight container at room temperature for 3-4 days or a couple of weeks in the freezer.
2) Homemade Breadcrumbs
Breadcrumbs are the next best thing to make with day-old bread. Sure, you can buy store-bought, so why make your own?
benefits of making your own breadcrumbs
Homemade breadcrumbs have a better texture, more flavor, and simpler ingredients over store-bought varieties.
how to use homemade breadcrumbs
Breadcrumbs are great on top of pasta, soup, salad, or as a breading on proteins.
- Day-old bread however much you have
- Preheat your oven to 300°F.
- While your oven is coming to temperature, put your bread in a food processor or blender and pulse until you have crumbs.
- Spread the breadcrumbs into an even layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
- Bake for about 10-15 minutes. Once cooled, stir in dried herbs or spices if using.
- You'll reach the best consistency with a food processor, but even if you don't own one, you can still make homemade breadcrumbs.
- Here's what to do instead: use a spice grinder, heavy rolling pin, or a kitchen mallet.
- Regardless of what method you choose, you'll achieve the best results by adding the bread in small amounts until you've used it all up.
- Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to one month.
3) French Toast
Homemade croutons and breadcrumbs are a great savory option, but what about a way to satisfy your sweet tooth?
Making french toast is the answer you were looking for.
French toast isn’t the easiest thing to order for dairy-free folks when brunching at a restaurant since they typically use milk in their batter, and in the bread itself as well.
French toast is great for using up that day-old bread, and it’s a perfect way to satisfy your sweet cravings and add variety to your typical breakfast routine.
Day Old Bread French Toast (Dairy-free)
- Heat a pan over medium heat.
- While the pan is heating up, whisk together the eggs, milk, cinnamon, and vanilla in a large shallow bowl.
- Dredge the bread into the wet mixture until each piece is thoroughly coated.
- Once the pan is hot, add about 1 tablespoon of oil (or butter) and swirl it around to coat the bottom of the pan.
- Cook each piece until bread is lightly browned and crispy on both sides.
- Enjoy with fresh fruit, maple syrup, or both!