Last Updated on August 28, 2023
The UK wastes more than 10 billion tonnes of food every year – most of it unnecessarily. Bread is the UK’s most wasted food, and 32% of what we bin is perfectly good to eat. From bread puddings to breadcrumbs, discover 40 ways to waste less bread (and do your bit to help the planet). Published: 15 Aug 2017 | 5 minute read
Stale bread recipes and tips
1. Make some fattoush
A popular bread and vegetable salad from the Middle East that uses stale flatbread, or try with stale pitta, Italian or French bread.
2. Revive your stale bread with water
Transform stale bread just sprinkle with water, then pop briefly in a warm oven.
3. Feed the birds
Stale bread can be a lifeline for birds in the winter as long as it’s part of a varied diet. Read the RSPB’s advice about feeding bread to the birds .
4. Pizza toast
Cover leftover bread with chopped tomatoes, herbs and grated cheese, and pop under the grill.
5. Summer pudding
A great British classic, Summer pudding is a wonderful combination of stale bread and fresh seasonal fruit. Try wholemeal bread for a healthier alternative with a more robust flavour.
Spread stale slices of bread with a little butter or olive oil and put them in the oven until golden brown, and serve like crispbreads. Great topped with soft cheese such as ricotta.
7. Ribollita soup
A thick bread-based soup, this popular Italian recipe is great reheated the next day. Try Jamie Oliver’s Ribollita recipe .
Stale bread and eggs were somehow made for each other. If you love soufflé but aren’t in the mood to worry about it rising or collapsing, cheese, onion and bread soufflé is an easy recipe to make with stale bread.
These German dumplings are similar to Italian gnocchi, but are made with stale bread and milk. Enjoy in a soup, topped with mushroom gravy or marinara, or with meat or fish.
Create a slightly sweeter version (minus the garlic, pepper, and herbs) and eat warm with honey, almonds, and ricotta cheese.
10. Mouldy bread
Mouldy bread isn’t safe to eat but it doesn’t need to go in the bin. If your council doesn’t recycle food waste, put the bread on your compost heap instead of sending it to landfill.
Making breadcrumbs and other ideas
11. Fresh breadcrumbs
To make fresh breadcrumbs, remove the crusts from slices of day-old white or brown bread, place in a food processor or blender and pulse until finely chopped. Then freeze or store your breadcrumbs in an air-tight container.
Perfect for topping gratins, macaroni cheese, casseroles, cakes and cupcakes, and for coating fish and meat.
12. Savoury breadcrumbs
Pop stale bread in the oven after you’ve switched it off (the residual heat will crisp it up) — or simply put it in the toaster. Then blitz in a blender. Add herbs and salt if you want a savoury mix for dishes.
13. Delicious ice cream topper
This might not sound like an obvious recipe to use old bread, but trust us, it makes for an amazing addition to pudding. Just add some brown sugar, cinnamon, cocoa powder or coconut flakes to dried breadcrumbs, and sprinkle.
14. Bread stuffing
Mix breadcrumbs with onions, herbs and seasoning for a simple stuffing for roast meat. Experiment with extra ingredients such as squash, spinach, sausage, nuts and dried fruits like cranberries.
15. Nut roast
Forget the bad press – the humble nut roast has been reinvented. If you fancy chestnuts, cashews and macadamias blended with flavoursome mushrooms, and seasoned with honey and soy sauce, see Nigel Slater’s Porcini Nut Patties . For more variations, see these Nut Roast Recipes .
16. Treacle tart
Treacle tart uses storecupboard staples including old bread, and is delicious served with a generous dollop of ice-cream or custard.
17. Brown Betty
Butter a baking dish and arrange alternate layers of chopped apples and stale breadcrumbs — start and end with a breadcrumb layer. Sprinkle cinnamon and sugar on each layer of apples. Bake until golden and serve with cream.
Taramasalata is a delicious Greek dip made with breadcrumbs and cod roe.
19. Mince and meatballs
Try Nigel Slater’s Peppers with mince, parmesan and rosemary . Choose good quality, organic meat whenever possible to support more environmentally-friendly farming. Breadcrumbs are often added to mince to make it more tender and bulk it out.
20. Fish cakes
Breadcrumbs act as a crispy coating for home-made fishcakes. Choose sustainable seafood with the help of the Good Fish Guide .
21. Bread omelette
A great way to use soft breadcrumbs, this Bread Omelette is an interesting variation on the basic recipe.
Savoury things to do with bread
22. Savoury bread and butter pudding
Use your stale bread for bread and butter pudding with a twist and adapt the usual sweet recipe for a savoury main course. Make it with cheese (and pickle) sandwiches, cheese and tomato sandwiches, or with spinach or roast veg. Pour seasoned milk and egg mixture over the sandwiches in a deep oven proof dish, top with a little more grated cheese and bake.
23. Savoury eggy bread
Has your old bread gone hard? Dip a slice of bread into beaten egg, turn it over a few times to make sure it’s well coated. Quickly fry it, then add your topping of choice — try baked beans, tomatoes or mushrooms.
24. Cheese and jelly French toast
Spread one side of the stale bread with a light layer of cream cheese (or chevre), and the other side with a tart jelly (like cherry or marmalade) before dipping it in egg batter and cooking.
25. Try some panzanella
Panzanella is an Italian bread salad recipe with fresh tomatoes, herbs and and olive oil. A fantastic way to use stale Italian or French bread.
Dice your old bread and fry quickly in olive oil for home-made croutons.
27. Fried sandwiches
28. French onion soup
Delicious with a cheesy toasty topper, try Alton Brown’s French onion soup .
Sweet things to do with bread
29. Eggy bread
Dip a slice of bread into beaten egg, turn it over a few times to make sure it’s well coated. Quickly fry then serve with your favourite topping – try honey or fresh fruit.
30. Eggy bread pudding
For a pudding worthy of a Michelin star, try Jamie Oliver’s Charred eggy bread with strawberries and honey .
31. Bread and butter pudding
There are many versions of this recipe – but essentially it’s buttered slices of old bread, layered and baked with a mixture of eggs and milk.
Try spreading the bread with marmalade or lemon curd for a simple fruity twist. Or for something spicey, try this Chai spiced bread and butter pudding .
32. Milk toast
An American children’s favourite, just spread bread with butter, then toast under a grill. Meanwhile heat a pan of milk making sure it doesn’t boil.
Slice the toast into small cubes. Put toast cubes in a bowl and pour hot milk over. Eat immediately before it gets too soft.
33. Fruit Charlotte
Dip fingers of bread in melted butter, and line a cake mould. Pour in a fruit compote of your choice – homemade is best. Seal the top with some more bread slices and bake for about 30 mins until golden brown. Great served with custard.
34. Go for the toaster
Choose the toaster rather than the grill where possible – it uses less energy – and transform your slightly stale bread into one of our favourite comfort foods.
35. Toast sandwich – Victorian style
Not a toastie, but a recipe by Victorian food writer Mrs Beeton which was recently revived. Toast a thin slice of stale bread. Salt and pepper it and sandwich it between two slices of fresh buttered bread.
36. Melba toast
Lovely with soft cheese, hummus or paté. Watch this short video to learn to make Melba toast .
The crust from toast makes great rusks for teething babies. Take care not to leave babies unattended with food.
38. How to freeze bread
If you take a while to finish a loaf, freeze half – remember to slice it first. Defrost a few hours before for sandwiches, or use instantly for toast.
39. Bake your own bread
You’re less likely to waste it if you bake your own bread – find out more from the Real Bread Campaign .
40. Christmas decorations made from bread
Get the kids involved with food – try these Christmas decorations made from bread .