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What to do with Lots of bread?

Because of how I shop clearance / loss leaders / freebies, I tend to end up with a lot of bread items free. Mostly white bread like hot dog buns, sandwich buns, slider buns, etc but occasionally I get things like bagels, raisin bread, potato bread or oatmeal bread. Never know what I will get until I am at the store. The bagels we have no trouble using - we toast them & spread with flavored cream cheese.

I need ideas for the rest though - please! The first couple of weeks I did mostly okay using it up, but now the thought of another sandwich is nauseating. We find we can keep bread about a week here, maybe two at most, before it spoils / molds. I get around 4-5 packages weekly. I have considered making bread pudding, but not sure if the cheapie white bread {like the hot dog buns} would hold together for that.

So - give me your best extra / leftover bread ideas?

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    1. re: daislander

      Stratas work work with soft white commercial bread as well as stiffer breads.

      They're endlessly flexible, like a lot of egg-based dishes. And they're no-fuss: essentially eggs beaten well and poured over big cubes of bread and shredded cheese and any other flavors of choice in a shallowish baking dish. You assemble and set in the fridge overnight, put in the oven the next morning, and it puffs up attractively.

      These qualities make it an excellent breakfast/brunch/lunch main dish.

    2. Freeze it. Make bread pudding. Bread soup.

      1. Don't mean to be so obvious but we freeze it. Once a month my husband drives through Brooklyn and picks up a half dozen loaves of Italian Bread. We cut it into serving sizes, pack in sandwiches bags and then into larger freezer bags. When we want one, we either take it out in the morning and it is defrosted by lunch or just microwave 30 seconds and heat in the toaster.

        1. Sounds like most of the breads are of questionable nutritional value so if your family has any problems with obesity or diabetes, it might be best to forego the opportunity for such freebies.

          Otherwise, you can try to combine the lower quality breads with the better ones. I'd be cubing the bread and drying it out in the oven (250F or so), then making lots of bread crumbs. Please note that letting bread stale on the counter will not work. When bread stales, crystal formation entraps moisture in a process called retrogradation. When it is heated, the bread becomes moist again. That's why you can "refresh" stale bread in the oven or microwave. Crumbs made from stale bread will get moldy over time, unless frozen.

          You can use bread crumbs combined with melted butter, or oil, as quiche crust. Like a graham cracker crust, but for savory ingredients. Mix herbs, spices, dehydrated chives into the crumbs for making crusts, and to use the crumbs for breading fish, poultry, and pork.

          Toast bread crumbs in olive oil in a frying pan, along with garlic, crushed red pepper flakes, and anchovy. Toss with cooked pasta, top with good grated cheese.

          Make cheese strata with sliced bread, and the baked French toast breakfast casserole. You can vary the strata concept by using pureed soup mixed with egg as the "custard", rather than milk/cream. Spread mustard and mayo on the bread, layer with ham and cheese, and soak in a tomato soup custard before baking. Turkey and creamed spinach with a chicken broth custard. Corned beef, kraut, and Swiss with a cream of tomato soup custard.

          You CAN use cheaper bread for bread pudding. It will hold up if you dry out large cubes in the oven, and don't soak in the custard for very long.

          2 Replies
          1. re: greygarious

            I agree about the questionable nutrition. Especially when the OP is trying to find ways to eat MORE of it than they usually would, just because it's free.

            1. re: sandylc

              I was confused about that as well. You don't have to eat it just because it's free which is what I tell my coworkers that jump at any free food offered anywhere in the office.

          2. Panzanella. Italian bread salad. That are more than a million recipes on Google. It's a delicious tomato, bread and veggie salad that can easily be a main dish, or just a simple side.

            Then again there's always breadcrumbs with various seasonings then frozen.

            1. I thought of the bread pudding too, and freezing. And I suppose you could make stuffing to serve along with your meat course. However, I too deplore the use of the white bread in hot dog buns, etc. Eating that stuff is not good for your family, IMO, especially in the amounts you want to use.

              Maybe only get the free bread every other week? Freeze what you get to last for 2 weeks?

              1. Another thought would be to add seeds, ground-up nuts, wheat germ, or whole grain cereals to the cheaper breads when making crumbs or strata, but the cost of those might cancel out the savings.

                How many people are in your family, and what are the ages of the children?

                Someone else mentioned stuffing. That could be your default starch accompaniment for chicken dinners. At least it incorporates some onion and celery at the very least, though you can also use mushrooms, nuts, and fruits like fresh apple, and raisins.

                As for sandwiches, toasted white bread tastes better than plain, in most of them.

                  1. Well it sounds as if your stock will just keep building as you go for the freebies and specials, no? Good on you.

                    Food bank?

                    1. I've made bread pudding out of hot dog & hamburger buns, white bread, dinner roll, pastries and a combination of all at one time or another. I didn't dry out the bread beforehand and it came out so so good! I made a caramel to drizzle over the top and sautéed apples to go with.

                      During thanksgiving, I had a lot of bread in my freezer (I mean a lot) and because I was in charge of making the dressing, I broke up the bread, dried it out then bagged it up and put back in the freezer a few weeks ahead so that it would be ready to go for my dressing. Now, I have a container of cooked dressing in the freezer leftover from Turkey day; I'm going to use it to stuff chicken breasts for dinner tomorrow.

                      You could also use dressing or stuffing for stuffed mushrooms, to combine with seafood to make a riff on a crab cake with salmon, shrimp, oysters or scallops. Use it to stuff mussels, shrimp, or clams (casino) or vegetables like cored onions, peppers, eggplant, summer or winter squashes.

                      Bread crumbs are obvious and there are just so many uses for them. Top pasta with crumbs seasoned with butter or olive oil and herbs as well as using to coat some ravioli dipped in egg wash and fried for an appetizer. Make your own cheese stix by dipping pieces of thickly cut mozzarella or other cheese in egg wash, coat in breadcrumbs and freeze then fry in hot oil until golden, use this same method for chicken tenders, veal scaloppini , eggplant parmesan, etc.

                      Croutons for soups or salads

                      1. Feed the ducks and geese:) I would try to make seasoned croutons for salad...large croutons for French onion soup....you could make a lot of very savory fresh vegetable and dried bread stuffing for butterflied pork loin roasts...rolled stuffed flank steak and chicken breasts. Breadcrumbs to use in meat loaf.....meat balls etc. and for breading vegetables and meats. I am a French toast fan and there is a recipe for a French toast casserole style bread pudding that is delicious. I am pretty sure you can make delicious bread pudding with any mix of breads.

                        1. You can store the bread in the fridge for several weeks or in the freezer for several months. When the kids were young we use to stock up at the day old bakery all the time.

                          1. 2x the panzanella, delicious. Maybe fondue or bruschetta?

                            Anything with a strong flavor that will cover the blandness of the bread will work.

                            One tip for freezing, try to double wrap the bread or use freezer zip-bags, otherwise the bread gets freezer burn.

                            1. Agree with those who suggest you cut back a bit on the freebies -- leave some for others who also need those breads. Are you making hot sandwiches, too? French Dip (roast beef heated in onion soup). Grilled cheese with sliced tomato. Hot ham & Swiss in buns with mustard/Worchestershire/butter sauce poured over, bake 30 minutes. Beefburgers. Bread topped with mashed potatoes, slice of meat, gravy.

                              1. Homemade croutons. I can't remember the last time I BOUGHT bread crumbs?? My grandmother ALWAYS had a big bowl of odds and ends of bread drying. Once hard, she'd get out her old-fashioned grinder (kind that attached to table/counter) and put some of us grandkids to work.

                                1. Bread pudding, as you mentioned, is a great way to use up lots of bread.

                                  If you have "limp" bread, you can place it in the oven at 400F for a couple of minutes to dry it out.

                                  1. You can make bread pudding out of ANY bread... the cheapie white bread works out great because it's so soft that it crumbles and soaks up a ton of liquid.

                                    I make 'baked stuffed french toast' ie what my mama used to call 'bread pudding' - two layers of buttered white bread in a dish with good things in between (any of apple, raisins, nuttella, jam, chocolate chips etc.) with milk/egg custard poured over the top and baked. Unlike stovetop french toast it doesn't require any attention while it's cooking and the bread will never fall apart because it's not being turned...

                                    You can do croutons, or bread cups, or melba toast, or homemade bread crumbs... hotdog and hamburger buns make okay quickie garlic bread (slice, butter, add garlic, bake)