Six ways to use up leftover bread

From bread and butter pudding to treacle tart, some of our favourite dishes have been born from stale bread. And yet, bread is the UK’s most wasted food – 900,000 tonnes of it is wasted every year, about 24m slices every day! Read on for our top tips and tricks for ideas for using up your loaves.

  1. Make friends with the freezer

    If you know you won’t use it all, freeze bread while it’s still fresh. If it isn’t already, slice the bread so you don’t have a tough time carving a frozen loaf, then wrap in clingfilm. You can toast it from frozen. Already stale? Blitz it into breadcrumbs and tip into freezer bags. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs over veggie dishes for the perfect crunchy topping – try on vegan macaroni cheese or use sourdough breadcrumbs on a romanesco cauliflower bake.

  2. Crunchy coating

    If you’ve got a larger quantity of breadcrumbs, make the most of them as a crunchy coating for meat or fish. Try golden fish finger wraps for a family treat or crisp pork schnitzel with beetroot slaw for an easy midweek meal. Hardy rye bread is brilliant blitzed with fresh coriander for a fragrant crumb coating on baked avocado wedges, for a healthy sharing starter or alternative brunch dish.

  3. Hydration to the rescue

    If your bread is just a little stale you can still bring most loaves back to life! Sprinkle it with a little water then heat for a few minutes in the oven. A couple of refreshed slices turned into toast is all you need for an easy lunchtime meal. Melting cheddar and mozzarella are given an Indian-spin in this chilli cheese toast, or use thick slices of sourdough for a hearty brunch of grilled mushrooms with pesto and mozzarella.

  4. Bake your leftovers

    If you’ve bought too much bread, bake it into a hearty pud before it goes to waste. Bread and butter pudding is a comfort food classic that is perfect for experimenting with different flavours – fill it with fruit in this blueberry version or soak bread in a rich chocolate custard for a truly indulgent dessert. Use buttery brioche instead of plain white bread to take this classic dish up a level – this slow cooker bread pudding with caramel that is definitely worth the wait.

  5. Celebrate croutons

    Crunchy croutons are the best way to top soup and salad, and stale bread is perfect for this. Use up your crusts by making spicy harissa croutons: toss cubes of bread with harissa and olive oil then bake until golden. Serve tossed through a Mediterranean salad. For something different, try this lemon and thyme roasted chicken with chorizo – crisp ciabatta croutons are cooked alongside the chicken to absorb all the flavourful juices.

  6. Try something different

    Once you’ve exhausted toast and croutons, try something different with your leftover bread. Breadcrumbs are a great thickener – both brioche and sourdough crumbs are added to this rich treacle toffee tart for an irresistibly sticky filling, whilst plain white bread is blended into this smooth summer gazpacho. For an unusual vegan dessert, try this griddled pineapple with smoked bread and banana ice cream using brown bread that is griddled until smoky and charred.

  7. And don't forget...

    Finally, to help prevent your bread going stale altogether, store your bread correctly. It’s a debate that divides many, but here are the facts. Bread needs to be stored at room temperature. Keeping it in the fridge will make it go stale more quickly, as it removes the moisture and dries out the bread. Store sliced bread in its plastic bag and keep crusty loaves in a paper bag to absorb excess moisture. 

    WRAP in association with: