Did your Harvest Gold bread loaf get a little too crusty? Or did you find the garlic bread you enjoyed with dinner last night, becoming hard and dry by the morning? Luckily, stale bread can be transformed into something special!

As college students, our primary goal in life is to score food that is cheap as well as satisfying. This is exactly why we try our best to use up the remains of the fridge to minimize waste AND the regret that floods us when we realize we’ve only used a quarter of that fancy, pocket-burning, wholegrain-garlic loaf of bread before it got all hard and crumbly.

Lo and behold, we’re here to provide a solution. After this article, there is no looking back because I promise you these seven uses for stale bread are guaranteed to change your perception of old bread.

1. DIY Breadcrumbs 

sweet, corn, porridge, wheat, cereal
Kartik Sharma

These super-simple, super-flaky breadcrumbs can be used to crust any vegetables, meat, cheese of your choice to create an express, delicious dinner.

Simply take the leftover bread, tear up into pieces and whiz in a blender to a texture that you prefer. For crumbing purposes, medium-sized breadcrumbs work best, but if you want to cover leftover pasta with this dazzle of crispy goodness and chuck into a blistering oven for best results, I suggest a super-fine crumb. For the more adventurous and flavour-loving soul, chuck some minced garlic, salt, chilli powder and chopped coriander or a packet of Dominos pizza seasoning into the blender with the torn pieces of bread.

Use these seasoned breadcrumbs to coat chunks of Mozzarella/Paneer (you have to try it to believe it) or chicken breasts to create deliciously crispy snacks that go brilliantly with the beer you plan to enjoy on a Saturday night, with Netflix. These breadcrumbs can be stashed in the freezer and I promise, are infinitely better than the store-bought variety.

2. Make A Killer Panzanella

Ever wished to add to your culinary repertoire without having to spend time or money, then here is your answer. This Italian bread salad is popular for this exact reason: the tomato juice soaks into the stale, toasted bread infusing it with some serious flavour. 

3. Make Croutons

We all agree that the best part about eating soup is the deliciously tiny, crispy cubes of bread that explode in your mouth. The trick to making great croutons is using two-day-old, stale bread.

Take slices of hard bread, cut off the crusts, cut into cubes, and drizzle with some oil, salt, and oregano. Bake these in a hot oven for 15 minutes at 175ºC until toasty and golden brown. Use these in salads, soups, or just store in a bag in the freezer until the next time you catch the flu and someone sends over a bowl of Hot & Sour Noodle Soup.

You can also do this the non-fussy way and simply toss the stale bread cubes into a hot pan with lots of butter and salt. Fry these off till toasty-brown and voila, your croutons are salad ready!

4. Bread Poha Or Nothing

An all-mothers invention before Maggi and instant noodles flooded the food market, this khatta-meetha breakfast dish is every college student’s culinary weapon. 

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil, when hot, add 1 teaspoon of mustard seeds and kadi patta. Once these begin to splutter, add 1 sliced onion, 1 boiled potato/now is a good time to throw in any leftover-soon to be spoilt vegetables and your stale bread, torn into pieces. To this, add turmeric, salt, pepper and 1-2 finely chopped green chillies. Once the bread has transformed into fried nuggets of gold, finish with some coriander, a dash of chaat masala and a squeeze of lime.

While I enjoy some of this sweet-salty-sour concoction, you can drool at the picture given above.

#SpoonTip: Adding a handful of roasted, salty peanuts takes bread poha to a whole new level!

5. Easy Yet Fancy Stratas

These are basically an excuse to invite friends over, pour some mojitos, and eat brunch. This custardy, bready, cheesy breakfast strata casserole can be assembled before and popped into a hot oven as and when required.

The best part about these is that they can be made using the staples and anything else you have in the fridge using this basic ratio: 1 part milk + 1 part eggs + 1 part cheese + 1 part add-ins (optional) + 2 parts bread.

My ideal strata begins with a buttered baking dish, to which you add 4 cups of cubed stale bread. In a bowl, whisk together 2 cups of milk, 2 eggs, some grated cheese, salt, pepper, coriander and grated garlic.

In a pan, sauté any vegetables (red onions are a must), meat of your choice. Pour the milk mixture on top of the bread, let it soak for 10 minutes and then add the vegetables in a single layer on the top. Bake at 170ºC for 25 minutes and serve piping hot. This brunch is satisfying, economical and uses stale bread as its backbone!

6. Make Bread Pudding

dairy product, milk, flour, butter, wheat, bread, toast
Anirudh Krishnan

Swap out the veggies for milk and some sugar and you’ve got yourself a bowlful of dessert. Nigella's chocolate-chip bread pudding is the answer to any problem-whether sneaky period cramps that hit you at 3 in the morning or the lift-me-up food you often need in the middle of the week. Insanely easy to make and equally delicious, this recipe is a one-bowl, one-baking dish affair.

Butter a baking dish and throw in torn pieces of stale bread (about 5-6 slices) and sprinkle broken bits of chocolate all over it (I suggest using Cadbury’s Cranberry Bournville for a melty and tart chocolate experience). Leftover bread is perfect to mop up all that custard and is the ideal base to use here.

In a bowl, whisk 2 eggs, 3-4 cups of milk and 6 tablespoons of sugar. Pour this custard mixture over the bread, press down to accelerate absorption and sprinkle a final coat of sugar on top for some crunchy, caramelly goodness. Bake at 170ºC for 20-30 minutes till the crust is golden-brown. Grab a spoon and dig in!

7. Make Snacks For Your Animal Companion

Stale bread is so versatile, you can make fido snacks using 1/2 cup stale bread crumbs with 2 cups whole wheat flour, 2/3 cup water and 6 tablespoons oil. Roll into a dough, cut into rounds and bake at 175ºC for 30-40 minutes.

These trips and tricks transform stale, old bread into something useful and beautiful. We hope you give these a try, for I promise a sample of one of these dishes will be a loaf-changing experience.