Let’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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.