Wondering what to do with leftover bread? I have seven tips to help you reduce your food waste.

Food waste is a huge issue. Food production is one of the biggest contributors to climate change. In fact, about one-third of greenhouse emissions globally come from agriculture.

Despite this, both at the household level and at the manufacturing level, we are very wasteful when it comes to food. 30% of the food we produce is wasted – about 1.8 billion tonnes of it a year. So much so, that it has been estimated that if food waste was a country, it would be the third-highest emitter of greenhouse gases after the US and China.

When it comes to bread, in the UK we waste a staggering 800,000 tonnes of bread and other baked goods a year. And of this, a shocking 680,000 tonnes is avoidable.  So to help combat this waste I’ve put together seven handy tips on what to do with leftover bread:

what to do with leftover bread

What to do with leftover bread

Ignore The Best Before Date

I always ignore best before dates as they refer to food quality rather than safety (which use by dates refer to).  If the bread looks ok, with no mould on it, and smells ok then the chances are it’s fine to eat.  Do check for mould carefully though.  Some bread mould can be white and it can be hard to distinguish between flour and mould, so if in doubt don’t eat it!

Revive Stale or Hard Bread

Has a day-old crusty loaf gone stale or rock hard?  It sounds wild, but if you briefly hold the leftover bread under a cold tap, give it a shake to remove excess water, and then pop it in a hot oven for around 10 minutes then this will make it lovely and soft again.  It’s true, the excellent Love Food Hate Waste told me so!

Individual rolls, hot dog buns, croissants, bagels, or any similar bread-based snack can also be given similar treatment. Simply wrap them in a damp piece of kitchen roll and microwave them for 10 seconds to pop the freshness back.

Get Creative With Your Leftover Bread Waste

Don’t throw out the ends of your bread – make breadcrumbs out of your leftover bread.  

The most energy-efficient way to make bread crumbs is to store your ends of bread in a tub or bag in the freezer until you have enough to fill your food processor with.  Then tear into small pieces, place in your food processor, and pulse until you reach your desired coarseness. Next, spread the crumbs to a 0.5cm thickness onto a baking tray and place them into a low oven (150C/gas 2) for 20-30 minutes, stirring the crumbs gently halfway through cooking, until lightly golden-brown and dry. These will keep for a few weeks in an airtight container, or for 3 months in the freezer.

Try Recipes for Leftover Bread

 Leftover bread is also fantastic in bread and butter pudding. My personal favourite is whisky and marmalade bread and butter pudding – so tasty!

Other Top Tips to Reduce Bread Waste

It’s handy knowing some useful tips on what to do with your old bread, but one of the most impactful ways to make change is to change your habits so you have less bread leftover.

Here are my top tips to help you shop smarter:

Use Your Freezer

You can freeze bread – preferably on the day you buy it. However, you can freeze it up to its best before date. Slices can be toasted from frozen or defrosted and used as normal, with no perceptible differences in taste or texture.  Bread lasts for about 6 months in the freezer, and it will save you asking the question “what to do with leftover bread?”.

If you have leftover cake (this never happens in my house!) then cake can also be frozen, either in slices or whole.  Bon Appetit has some great advice for freezing cake.

Don’t Store Bread In the Fridge

Bread lasts longer stored in a cool dark and dry places, such as a bread bin or cupboard.  Avoid the fridge. Apparently storing bread in the fridge draws moisture out of the fridge, causing it to go stale six times faster than if you’d stored it in a cupboard or bread bin.

Shop Smarter

Finally, if you find yourself rarely finishing a standard-sized loaf of bread then change your shopping habits. Instead, buy a half-loaf, which will save you money at the same time.

Have I missed any tips on what to do with leftover bread?  Do share in the comments below!

Also check out my other food waste tips for eggs, milkberries, and bananas.

Found this post useful?  You can buy me a virtual coffee to help support the site’s running costs.  You can also sign up for the free Moral Fibres monthly newsletter to get all the latest eco news and ideas straight to your inbox.