Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Frugal Tuesday

Each Tuesday, I will be posting ideas for frugal living. I hope that these posts will inspire and benefit others.

The Humble Loaf of Bread

Bread is a staple item in every home. Unfortunately, it can at times be one of the most wasted food items in our kitchens. How often have you tossed out a stale loaf of bread? Here are a few ideas on how to get a 2nd life out of dried bread.

Croutons: these little gems are great both on salads or used with soup in place of crackers. To make croutons, cut the bread slices into cubes. Dry the croutons on a baking sheet in a 250* oven for about 30 minutes or until fully dried. Once they have cooled, place in a container in your pantry. Unseasoned, these croutons are also great to have on hand for making stuffing.

Baby's Teething Toast: I have made these for our daughter and other teething babies. I make them similar to the croutons. Slice the bread into sticks similar in size to biscotti. Dry the bread sticks in the oven, turning the sticks a 1/4 turn every 15 minutes to help the toasts dry evenly. These toasts will dry hard and be nearly crumb-free when baby is teething on them. I make these from my homemade breads, including banana & zucchini breads that do not have nuts or raisins in them.

Bread Crumbs: Let the bread dry out on the counter. Break the dried bread into pieces and run through the food processor or blender to make crumbs. Toast the crumbs in the oven to thoroughlyl dry them. Once dried & cooled, place into a container. For seasoned bread crumbs, add abit of Italian seasoning or other seasoning mixture to the bread crumbs. The bread crumbs are great of adding to casseroles, meatloaf, and other dishes.

Since I bake bread twice each week, I often will bake an extra loaf for the expressed purpose of making croutons or bread crumbs. If I am planning to make seasoned bread crumbs, I will add the seasonings to the dry ingredients as I make the bread dough. The bread smells wonderful as it bakes.

There are many recipes and meals where the croutons or bread crumbs can be added. Making your own is easy and very inexpensive. Give it a try using your favorite bread or bread recipe. You may be surprised at the ease and the better flavor that the homemade has.