Thrifty Tips for Using Bread Crusts

by Sarah Breakfast, Main Course, Recipes, Stocks and SoupsComments: 25

bread crusts

Do you find yourself wasting bread crusts or feeding them to the chickens, ducks or other birds in the backyard?

This is not a very frugal strategy considering the high price of a quality loaf of bread these days.

A quality loaf of properly prepared sourdough or sprouted bread is going to set you back somewhere between 5-10 US$.   The sourdough bread I buy currently costs $6.29/loaf, an increase of about $2 in less about 2 years!

While I save 10% by buying a case of bread at a time and freezing what I won’t use in a few days, quality bread is still by no means cheap.

Why don’t I make my own bread?  I actually used to make bread for my family years ago when there weren’t any quality traditional breads on the market.  But nowadays, there are plenty of excellent breads to choose from and so I allow myself the luxury of buying bread and focus my limited time in the kitchen making quality foods that cannot be purchased like bone broths, liver pate, homemade soups and sauces, fermented vegetables, fruits, and drinks, and healthy snacks and treats.

How Much are You Really Wasting Tossing Those Bread Crusts?

There are 17 slices of bread in each loaf I buy which breaks down to 33 cents each (this after my 10% bulk discount).

There are typically 2-3 bread crusts per loaf which means that a full $1 of each loaf is bread that doesn’t get used for sandwiches or toast.

We average about 3 loaves per week for our family of 5 which breaks down to just over a slice per day per person (we don’t eat a ton of bread generally speaking).

This means that $3 per week gets wasted if I don’t figure out a good use for those valuable bread crusts.  That’s $156 per year! While 150 bucks is not going to make too much of a difference to anyone’s bank account, it’s nothing to sneeze at either!

It will nearly get you 2 entrance passes to the Disney World theme park of your choice, something my kids can easily relate to.

My daughter likes to feed unused bread crusts to the ducks that live in the lake behind our house, but I try not to make a practice of this as I want to teach my children how to waste nothing and still come up with excellent tasting dishes to boot.

Here are  few ideas for what I do with my bread crusts in the kitchen.  What are your tips for using bread crusts?

Tips for Using Quality Bread Crusts

  • French Toast Casserole – This dish is super yummy and your kids will have no idea they are eating bread crusts.
  • Bread and Butter Pudding –  This is a Depression Generation type of dish but it tastes so great that you really should be making it even if your budget can handle more expensive treats!
  • Bread Crumbs – I hope you are not buying bread crumbs from the store.  Just tear your crusts in half and pulse a few times in the food processor and you will have quality bread crumbs at a fraction of the cost with no additives!   I like to use bread crumbs or rice in my meatloaf dish, one of our family’s favorite dinners.
  • Panata (Bread Soup) – This frugal Italian dish is made by warming the previously prepared bone broth of choice on the stove (not to a boil) and then adding bread crumbs or small pieces of bread crusts whisked together with 1-3 eggs, a handful or two of grated cheese, and a pinch of nutmeg. Warm and stir gently on the stove and add leftover vegetables if desired.  Salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

What other ideas do you have for using up bread crusts in your home?

Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

Comments (25)

  • Joana

    My daughters fight each other for those left over crusts. They love to eat those with strawberry jam or honey. I’ll definitely try those recipes. Thanks Sarah!

    September 6th, 2012 5:24 pm Reply
  • Sarah

    I liked the french toast casserole but my kids hated it. They said they would rather eat the crust on a sandwich.

    September 3rd, 2012 10:31 pm Reply
  • Ursula Pasche Stouffer via Facebook

    I LOVE the crusts of sourdough bread… it is my favourite part, and I’d never dream of cutting them off!

    September 3rd, 2012 5:02 pm Reply
  • thehealthyhomeeconomist via Facebook

    Folks getting started with Traditional Cooking have so many more options nowadays. 10 years ago, you had to make absolutely everything and it was exhausting if you were a Mom with kids with no family help around and no friends doing what you were doing and you had to do everything yourself.

    September 3rd, 2012 2:30 pm Reply
  • Kinzi

    Is sourdough still a healthy bread option if made with white flour?

    September 3rd, 2012 2:25 pm Reply
  • thehealthyhomeeconomist via Facebook

    I am so grateful for the artisanal bakers out there that have made my life SO MUCH easier in the past 5 years!!!

    September 3rd, 2012 2:07 pm Reply
  • thehealthyhomeeconomist via Facebook

    If you don’t have time, then you don’t have time. Sometimes it pays to just buy if you can … I made bread for years and quite frankly, got sick and tired of it.

    September 3rd, 2012 2:06 pm Reply
  • Lakisha Scott

    The crusts are my favorite.

    September 3rd, 2012 1:09 pm Reply
  • Mark Felton via Facebook

    Quality sourdough is cheap when you make it yourself!

    September 3rd, 2012 1:08 pm Reply
  • gretchen

    I am interested in where you buy your bread and what kind you purchase. thanks!

    September 3rd, 2012 12:31 pm Reply
  • michele

    I eat the crusts toasted, with an over easy egg on top. I was just thinking about doing the homemade crouton idea for salads.

    September 3rd, 2012 12:11 pm Reply
  • Laurie Fischer via Facebook

    Crusts were always my favorite, even as a kid. I would eat the crusts off the bread and leave the middle section. Now I have Celiac ;o(

    September 3rd, 2012 11:41 am Reply
  • thehealthyhomeeconomist via Facebook

    We are decidedly a crust avoiding household (unless I hide it in a dish like French Toast Casserole).

    September 3rd, 2012 11:35 am Reply
  • Phil K. James via Facebook

    Just skip the bread. It’s worthless empty calories anyway.

    September 3rd, 2012 11:34 am Reply
  • Ivy Clinger via Facebook

    I was going to say, “or just eat them…”

    September 3rd, 2012 11:17 am Reply
  • Sharon Mitas Abler via Facebook

    We eat ours too

    September 3rd, 2012 11:15 am Reply
  • Blanche Natashka via Facebook

    No leftover crusts here :0)

    September 3rd, 2012 11:08 am Reply
  • Kate Tietje via Facebook

    We love the crusts!

    September 3rd, 2012 11:01 am Reply
  • Kati Stiles Carter via Facebook

    My kids fight over who gets the heel, but we eat homemade.

    September 3rd, 2012 10:58 am Reply
  • Megan @ Purple Dancing Dahlias

    Really? :) The crust is the most fought after piece in this house. Lightly toasted with lots of butter and a smear of raw honey, sprinkled with cinnamon…now I am making myself hungry, lol.

    September 2nd, 2012 8:13 pm Reply
    • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

      Yup. I can relate to that one. I always loved the crusts growing up and my Grandma told me that it would give me curly hair. Sure enough, my hair went curly in 4th or 5th grade for some bizarre reason. My other 6 siblings don’t have curly hair so maybe it really was the crusts!!! LOL

      September 2nd, 2012 8:23 pm Reply
  • Mrs. Mac

    My favorite is to make croutons to toss in a salad. We are short on supply of good quality bread from the bakery/market. I have been sprouting organic grains .. and dehydrating/grinding into flour for 80% of our flour needs. The other ‘white’ flour I use is turned into sourdough starter to add to our bread. I kills me to buy bread on occasion at the market.

    September 2nd, 2012 5:19 pm Reply
  • Randall

    Croutons: coat with melted butter, garlic powder, dash of salt and herbs of your choice. Bake in a slow to medium oven until browned and crunchy. I’ve never tried adding grated parmesan cheese, but might someday.

    September 2nd, 2012 4:55 pm Reply
  • Belinda

    Here are a few ideas for bread ends or crusty pieces of bread that I found:
    *turn them to the inside and make grilled cheese sandwiches or any thick filling that can hide the crustiness
    *put two bread ends in a blender or food processor and blend. Add some parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, perhaps a little garlic, and top a healthy casserole with the mixture (they exist right?)
    *pulse it very fine and use as a thickener in soups (kind of already mentioned)
    *make small pizza crusts topped with pesto, mozzarella, tomatoes, etc.
    *top of french onion soup
    *make stuffing
    *bruschetta
    *panzanella (bread salad)
    *keep in cookie jar to keep cookies soft
    Although I know you don’t make bread anymore I recently read your post (wished I found it 2 years ago when written) about a new way of soaking with whey, vinegar or lemon juice vs. kefier, yogurt, or buttermilk. Up until now I’ve been doing 3 cups buttermilk, 1 cup water, 1/2 cup butter, and 10 cups whole wheat for the soak. You suggested a ratio of 1 cup water + 1 TBSP whey/lemon juice to 1 cup wheat for pancakes but wondering what substitution you’d do for bread making since that seems like way too much liquid. Have NO idea how to convert my bread recipe so I’d LOVE and appreciate any thoughts. Thank you for your amazing blog! I’ve had so many questions answered and have referred so many friends as well!
    Belinda

    September 2nd, 2012 4:13 pm Reply
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