How to use up leftover bread

a loaf of sourdough bread on a cutting boardLet’s talk bread. I read recently that the number one content of the average supermarket basket, in the UK, is a loaf of white sliced bread. Unfortunately, bread is also one of the top five items to be found in our food waste too. Standing in front of the shop’s shelves, it’s difficult to judge how much we need. We buy and then end up throwing the excess away. So much leftover bread.  Sound familiar?

I know I struggle to find the right balance. I make my own bread, but I do buy the odd loaf of sliced bread too. It’s so difficult to get it right. Either use it or lose it.

What not to do with bread

The worst idea is to feed it to birds. As a hen keeper, I know how it weakens the shells of their eggs. A weak shell easily cracks and also lets infection in, which will kill the developing chick. I don’t give my hens bread.

Wild birds are no different. It can damage their eggs and harm their health too. Bread also fills them up with less than nutritious food. If you want to feed the ducks, take a bag of frozen peas and not the ends of your bread.

We have someone who routinely scatters half a loaf along the hedges of our lane. Presumably to feed the wildlife. Definitely a bad idea (and my inspiration for writing this blog post). I have to stop my hound making a grab for it too. I bet I’m not the only dog owner to have this problem.

Ideas for using up bread

So what to do with the leftover bread? I either blitz with a food processor or grate the bread into breadcrumbs, or cut into slices. If I haven’t enough, then I keep it in the freezer until I’m ready. Ready made breadcrumbs, from the freezer, takes some of the faff out of preparing a meal in the evening.

I have a few favourite recipes which I use on a regular basis.

a baking tray with homemade scotch eggs using leftover bread

Scotch eggs

I love making a baked version of scotch eggs. Recipe here. I either use the breadcrumbs on their own or mix with herbs and seasonings. Sometimes I’ll add spice.

Chicken nuggets

Chicken nuggets are really easy to make for yourself. Chunks of chicken rolled in seasoned flour, egg and breadcrumbs. Bake in a lightly oiled tray for 15-20mins at 200°c. I add garlic and lemon peel to the breadcrumbs or a spice to ring the changes.

a glass container of apple crumble, with custard jug beside it


Breadcrumbs can be sprinkled on a whole host of meals to give a crisp, toasted topping. I put a light sprinkling on fruit crumbles and mashed potato toppings, for the last 15 mins of baking. Also make a nice addition to the top of pasta bakes.


Cut the bread into 1cm cubes, toss in a little oil and sprinkle with salt, herbs, spices or a combination, then toast them on a tray in the oven until they’re golden brown. Keep an eye on them, as they turn quickly.

Croutons in a bowl of pumpkin soup using leftover bread

Bread and Butter pudding

This is best made with older bread. The custard soaks into the bread and souffles into a fluffy pudding. I love the classic dried fruit version. Any leftovers go in the fridge and everyone is free to dig in the next day.


I like making my own meatballs. By adding the breadcrumbs, it makes the meat go a bit further, which is a great help with a family of five. Same can be said to adding some to most mince recipes. For meatballs, I mix a chopped up onion, 1tsp onion salt, good shake of pepper, couple of teaspoons of herbs, an egg and a few tablespoons of breadcrumbs in with 500g of minced beef. Divide the mixture into balls. I cook the meatballs in a tray for 10 mins at about 200-250°c, until they’ve browned, otherwise they can be fried and then arranged in a tray. Next add a pasta sauce and cheese and bake for another 15mins and serve with pasta and salad leaves.

children feeding the swans, shop bought bird food
Slimbridge 2013. Bird feed bought in paper bags from shop, when my teens were much smaller!

So no excuses. No need to feed the birds your leftover bread and risk their health and numbers. (Please don’t!) Or fill your food waste bucket with it. I hope you find an idea that helps you cut down waste.


16 thoughts on “How to use up leftover bread

  • Monday 22 March, 2021 at 1:56 pm

    Not only is the addition of bread crumbs or croutons delicious, it is not wasteful. Good post! Pinned #MMBC

    • Monday 22 March, 2021 at 4:18 pm

      Definitely tasty. Glad you enjoyed my list,

  • Tuesday 23 March, 2021 at 8:42 am

    I always find it a bit of a balancing act trying to work out how much bread we need – we got through a lot more during lockdown with everyone being home and having sandwiches at lunchtime. I have stored breadcrumbs in the freezer before and made croutons but never think to make home-made chicken nuggets – I forget how easy they are to make. Halloumi fries are quite a nice way of using up breadcrumbs too! #MMBC

    • Tuesday 23 March, 2021 at 10:25 am

      Same here. Lockdown pushed our milk and bread consumption up and I haven’t got used to the new demand. It varies at the best of times. I like the idea of Halloumi fries. I’ll have to give it ago.

  • Tuesday 23 March, 2021 at 2:32 pm

    My boys aren’t keen on eating the crusts but they love meatballs so I tend to use up the crusts in those. I think we’ll have to have a go at making chicken nuggets next! #MMBC

    • Tuesday 23 March, 2021 at 5:00 pm

      Mine like to help making chicken nuggets, especially when they were younger and had less to distract them.

  • Tuesday 23 March, 2021 at 11:10 pm

    I have a sourdough starter that I have kept alive for over 10 years. I make bread at least once a week. Thanks for these great suggestions for using up leftover bread. I usually make bread crumbs and freeze them. My grandkids love chicken nuggets, so that is a great use for the breadcrumbs I make. We just made meatball hoagies for my grandson’s birthday this weekend. He loved helping!

    • Wednesday 24 March, 2021 at 12:39 pm

      10 years is impressive. I love the “assembly” kind of cooking like nuggets and meatballs. It’s so easy for children to join in. What they make, they are likely to eat. Definite win-win.

  • Friday 26 March, 2021 at 9:03 pm

    These are all awesome ideas! I already knew that birds shouldn’t be fed bread, but I didn’t know of all the awesome ideas to use it up. #PoCoLo

    • Sunday 28 March, 2021 at 4:13 pm

      Thank you. I hope it helps.

  • Monday 29 March, 2021 at 5:27 pm

    What fantastic ideas. I think I will have to have a look at your scotch egg recipe. Yum, yum x

    • Tuesday 6 April, 2021 at 10:29 am

      The scotch eggs are so easy and far nicer than any I’ve bought.

  • Monday 29 March, 2021 at 6:50 pm

    Such useful ideas, thanks! I have some stale crusts to use now so will defo try one of these 🙂 #MMBC

    • Tuesday 6 April, 2021 at 10:29 am

      I hope you enjoy it.

  • Thursday 8 April, 2021 at 10:25 pm

    Thanks for sharing with #PoCoLo – at times I think my freezer is full of breadcrumbs and croutons, and at times I’m never more grateful!

    • Saturday 10 April, 2021 at 7:17 pm

      I know the feeling!

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