I do not know what lead you to read this article, but I guess it might have been a situation like this: you bought some bread from the grocery store just to go back three-four days later and find it again. Only about half of it was eaten, which makes you feel bad. After all, you have to throw it away now, don`t you?
Well, not necessarily. In this article, I will teach you three things:
– How to shop bread more smartly (this does not sound like rocket science, but there are elements in this that you do not know).
– How you can make the bread last longer.
– If the accident already happened, I will let you know what you can use an old bread for instead of throwing it out.
But first of all, I want to let you know that you are NOT alone. These facts about bread waste might shock you:
Why is it important to reduce bread waste?
To answer that, let me give you some statistics and “fun facts”:
– 900 tonnes of bread are wasted globally every year.
– Every day, we throw out about 25,000,000 slices of bread. Twenty-Five-Million! Every Day! Madness!
– Bread is, by far, the most wasted food.
– 25 % of all the bread we buy from grocery stores and bakeries are never fully eaten.
– A study in the UK showed that 42 % of the participants said that they threw away bread because “they forgot to eat it”. In the same study, 32 % said that the portions were too big (=bread too large).
* = source to each statement can be found at the bottom of the article.
In other words, we have a lot to work with. Let me teach you how to waste less bread. Let`s get down to business.
The list: 10 things to reduce bread waste that you have (probably) not heard of
I would love it if you read the whole article. But I get it – some people just want to quickly know what you can do to throw away less bread. Therefore, I have gathered a summary of all the tips, which you can read here:
1. Find grocery stores that sell half a bread.
2. Freeze down the bread you KNOW that you are not going to eat.
3. Have some bread/a sandwich for dinner.
4. Bread and butter pudding from stale bread
5. Make a warm sandwich in the toaster.
6. Buy a sealed box to have your bread in
7. Dry bread? Make croutons.
8. Buy a full, uncut bread from the store. Stay away from the bread cutting machine!
9. Store your bread in a plastic bag rather than in a paper bag.
10. Buy crispbread instead.
So….let`s dig a bit deep into details
Most of the other “reduce bread waste guides” online are quite, and excuse my French, awful. In this article, you will learn things that you can immediately implement in your daily life to save money and at the same time reduce your environmental footprint.
PS! I saved the best and most innovative tips at the end of the article. 🙂 I would strongly recommend you to read all the points though. Believe me: these tips are all written based on me reducing my bread waste with at least 90 % over the last year. If I can do it, you can do it as well.
1. Find a bakery or grocery store that sells half a bread
If you live alone or only purchase food for a couple of people, buying a full bread might be too much. In my local store, you can only purchase a full bread. Luckily, I live in a house with several people which means that we can manage that.
However, there are several shops (especially 7/11 and other convenient stores) that sell smaller bread.
2. Not that hungry? Put your bread in the freezer
This is an excellent tip to reduce bread waste. Unfortunately, people are lazy. Many people think that “it`s just bread, why would I go through all the hassle of freezing it?”. If you accumulate the money saved by reducing bread waste, you would not think like that.
Cut the bread in half. Put one half of the bread into a plastic bag and push it into your freezer. I bet that you will feel hungry on a Sunday when the shops are closed and go “oooh, damn. I should have bought the bread yesterday!”.
Guess what? It`s bread in your freezer. Give it 2 minutes in the microwave and it will be ready to eat. Unfortunately, my freezer is too small to contain a lot of bread, as you can see by this picture:
3. Use bread as a part of your dinner
I do not mean that you should avoid having a warm dinner (but you can do that as well). What I mean is that several traditional dinners are perfect to serve with bread. Among my favorites are:
– Chicken salad.
– Warm tomato soup.
If you see that you have a lot of bread left that has been in your kitchen for two days, I would strongly recommend to serve soup, bread, and butter for the whole family the next day.
4. Dessert: Bread and butter pudding
Stale bread can apparently be used to make the traditional UK dessert called “bread and butter pudding”.
Ok, I will admit it straight away: I haven’t done this…yet. But that is only because I feel that my stale bread can be better used for other things. Also; I am not really a big fan of sweet stuff. 🙂
101 guide: how to make a bread and butter pudding with some old bread
5. Heat up your bread with some ham & cheese in the toaster
This works wonders for me. If I got a bread that is four days old, I am not able to eat it “dry”. However, put some cheese, ham and spices on that thing…put it into a toaster and BOOM – delicious!
Trust me: your bread can be used for toasting despite being stale.
6. Get a sealed plastic box for your bread
This might not seem like a big deal, but it is. The more fresh air that “blows” into the bread, the quicker it will get old and dry. A big box to put into your kitchen is probably one of the best investments I have done in regards to kitchen equipment. Before I will show you how mine look like, I have compiled some different options that I found on Amazon. These boxes will keep your bread from getting dry:
Alternative #1: Bamboo bread box
Affordable, modern, nice – this is the one you should get if you are willing to pay more than 20 $.
Alternative #2: Compact transparent plastic bread box
This see-through modern bread box has everything you would love to have a bread storage box: keeps your bread fresh. It’s affordable. And it is large enough to fit nearly every bread sold in Europe, North America and the US (as far as I know).
So…what are you waiting for?
This is how mine looks like. The top of the box is made in eco-friendly bamboo:
7. Homemade croutons will give new life to your dry bread
Most people love croutons. I also found out that most people believe it is “too much hassle” to make them. However, people using those words have no idea how easy it is. All you need to make croutons of your old bread is:
– A bowl
– Dry garlic (not required, but recommended)
– An oven
– This Youtube video of an American gentleman efficiently making croutons:
Does croutons last longer than bread?
Ooooh yes! I have eaten croutons that I made three weeks ago without any problems. They did not smell, taste or look weird at all. According to this article from Leaf.tv, this process will extend the expiration date on the bread with a total of 14 days.
8. Do not cut your bread in pieces before you are ready to eat!
This is one of the things that annoy me. Every time I go to my local grocery shop in Oslo, there is a line of people waiting to cut their bread into slices before they go home. I guess this is something they do because they believe that they will save time. What most of them haven`t realized is that the bread will last significantly longer if it has not been sliced.
I do not often use Quora as my main information source. However, this answer is on-spot. Quote: “pre-sliced bread would grow stale quickly. The hard crust provided a protective layer, and once the exposed dry slice left from the previous cut was removed, the interior was still soft.”
Buy a full bread.
9. Plastic bag > paper bag
The very best thing would be to buy a plastic box (as mentioned previously). However, a plastic bag will also help to keep the bread fresh. What I often do is that I both keep the plastic AND the paper bag, which sort of gives a double protection.
This is a beautiful picture of my “bread protecting set”:
10. Buy crispbread instead
In a list called “10 things to reduce your bread waste”, I guess you did not see this tip coming. “So your solution to not wasting bread is to….not buy bread?”
Well, yes. Sort of. And the reason why crispbread is better is quite simple: the expiration date is probably 20 times longer compared to normal bread. I can open a pack of Wasa crispbread in June and I do not have to finish it before the end of August.
And for the record: I know that crispbread is a very Scandinavian invention. So if you have no idea how they look like, this is it:
Are there any other advantages of swapping bread with crispbread?
In fact, there is. A study published in the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health (what a name!!) compared white bread to crisp rye bread. What they found out was that quote “fullness was significantly higher after crispbread compared with white bread”. The same study concluded that “hunger, desire to eat as well as energy intake at lunch were significantly lower” for the ones who chose to eat crispbread for breakfast.
In other words: it might be a better solution for your health, for food waste and possibly also for your wallet.
As you can see, I tried to be a big smart and innovative when I wrote these tips. There are loads of articles out there claiming to be the best guide to reduce bread waste. However, none of them really helped me along the way. I therefore decided to write this one.
It all comes down to these things:
– Be smart with what you buy.
– Plan your meals ahead of time. If you see that you have a lot of bread laying around one day, feel free to use it in combination with some dinner dish.
– If the bread is already quite old, try to make croutons out of it. That fits perfectly with a nice salad.
Sources to the “fun facts”: