What to do with leftover bread

Aug 25, 2022 | 2 comments


Bread is the most wasted food item. WRAP says that 240 million slices are thrown away every year. I find that such a huge number, that I had to break it down to something that I could visualise.

3 white loaves on a wooden cutting board

So I divided it by 22 slices into loaves. Nope still too big. 365 days, still huge.  I ended up with about 148 loaves being  thrown away every HOUR. That’s a lot of useable bread

So, how can you reduce the number one wasted food item. With presliced bread, this is easy if you have a freezer. Just pop it straight in the freezer as soon as you take it home. If it is unsliced, slice it into the size that you want first. Then just take out what you want, when you want it. It stays beautifully fresh, so if you want to use it for sandwiches, you can, right down to the last slice. If you want toast, bung it straight in the toaster or under the grill from frozen. Or leave it on a covered plate and it defrosts back to fresh bread  in minutes, or if you want it right now,  nuke in the microwave for just a few seconds. All bakery products will freeze well. Don’t store it in the fridge tho, instead of making it last, it dries it out and makes it go stale much quicker.

My husband often buys a baguette, eats half of it, then leaves the other half on the worktop to go rock hard. Maybe toast is made and not eaten, or no-one will eat the two crust ends

That baquette, and many other types of bread, can be refreshed in the oven. Moisten the bread with a little water, then heat in a warm oven until it is crunchy again. Eat straight away, as it goes even more hard than it was before as it cools. You could add a little butter and garlic to it before it goes in the oven, for lovely garlic bread from something that might have been thrown away.

How to make breadcrumbs from leftover bread

leftover bread - a brown crust

However you get stale bread, it can be made into breadcrumbs. Store the crumbs in the freezer ready for when you want to use them. Any bread left on plates, especially by children, can be rescued this way and revived. Or make them into croutons, many ideas and flavours below.

If you have a food processor, tip all your bits and pieces of leftover bread in and whizz until they are broken down into breadcrumbs. This can also be done in a liquidiser.

If you don’t have either of these gadgets, you can use a cheese grater, or even lots of chopping with a sharp knife and a big cutting board.

Leftover breadcrumbs recipes

breadcrumbs being used to coat a chicken piece

What can you make with your breadcrumbs?

Try these ideas

  • Mix them with cheese and use to top gratins
  • Fry with oil or butter and scatter over anything that would benefit from the crunch
  • Zombie Burgers
  • Dead Good Old Tarts
  • Pea-Crumb Fritters, these cost a positively miserly 6p
  • Replace the flour in Oaty Crumbles with all or some breadcrumbs.  These are really good, all breadcrumbs gives a wonderful light and crispy finish
  • Add some brown sugar, cinnamon, cocoa powder, and coconut flakes to dried breadcrumbs for a delicious ice cream topper
  • Add lot of breadcrumbs to jam tarts, large ones of about 4-6 servings each. It pads them out so they are more filling, makes them a bit less sweet and turns them into a substantial and more tasty pudding with a bit of custard. Put the crumbs in the pastry case with jam on top which makes a nice chewy layer on the bottom, or put jam in bottom with crumbs on top which makes a nice crispy topping.
  • Mash up a tin of sardines in oil with four tablespoons of breadcrumbs and then spread it over four slices of bread that have been toasted on the other side. Toast the bread with the sardine mixture on it and then chop up a hard boiled egg and spread this over the sardine topping and add some basil. Being quite Mediterranean, it might translate into a pizza or perhaps just a starter: tostini alla Portuguesa.
  • To coat – meat, fish and croquettes
  • To absorb other flavours and ingredients especially fat – for example in stuffing, meatballs and Christmas pudding
  • To thicken soups, sauces and stews – thus turning the sardine and cream cheese pasta sauce into more of a pate consistency for example
  • To top – for example anything covered in white sauce
  • To underlay. I do recommend putting very dry breadcrumbs on your greased tin before putting in the pizza dough. It makes the crust crisp. Underlaying would also include the jam tart above. I once did a similar thing with a home made lemon curd tart. It was very well received, but it seemed a bit of a waste to make lemon curd and then turn it into cake by adding bread crumbs, but don’t let that put you off if you have a good source of lemon curd.

leftover bread, a whole loaf and some slices, on a red checked cloth

Using up bread, old, new, classic and fancy.

20 recipes for leftover bread 

Breadcrumbs aside, you could also make

  • Bread and Butter Pudding
  • Panzanella
  • 24 Ways to Eat Bread Pudding, – examples are Cinnamon Roll Bread Pudding, Strata with Mushroom, Sweet Potato, and Bacon, Sweet Corn Bread Pudding, Pork Sausage Bread Pudding with Aged Gouda and Sundried Tomato or Brioche Nutella Bread Pudding.Yum, yum
  • 17 ways to use stale bread.
  • 20 recipe ideas for using up stale bread
  • French toast either fried in honey for sweet or butter/oil for savoury
  • Meredith Blundell on Pat Parkers feed yourself for £1 a day Facebook page suggested this yummy idea.  Doughnuts. Cut 2 slices into circles with a pint glass. Put filling in between like jam or chocolate or apple sauce. Put bread together, squeeze the edges together. Dip in batter and deep fry then roll in sugar when done. These sound much too good, I don’t think I dare try them! Add the leftover pieces of bread to wherever you keep the leftover bread ready to be made into breadcrumbs.

Savory recipes using leftover bread



Soufflé Croûton Slice

Panzanella with lovely sun ripened tomatoes.

An Autumn Panzanella


Sweet recipes using leftover bread


Bread Pudden, made using leftover bread




  1. Anne Wilkinson

    I use a local bakery in Lincolnshire and buy their wholemeal farmhouse. It freezes beautifully and keeps fresh in the fridge

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