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10 reasons to buy old bread

Hostess bakery outlets have closed up shop, but there's more than one way to get marked-down breads -- and lots of ways to use them.

By Donna_Freedman Nov 27, 2012 1:16PM

Logo: Close up of fresh sliced loaf of bread (Adam Gault/OJO Images/Getty Images)When Hostess Brands announced the imminent shutdown of the Hostess bakeries earlier this month, people seemed to be more upset about a world without Twinkies than about the loss of 18,500 jobs.

Resellers were asking as much as $60 a box for the spongy little cakes. Anyone who paid that much may kick themselves later, since the Hostess brands could be acquired by other companies.

Frugalists also have reason to mourn: Hostess-affiliated bakery outlets will be closing, too. That means no more discounted sandwich breads, bagels, hamburger buns, English muffins and other cheap carbs.

Fortunately, there's more than one way to get marked-down bread -- and lots of frugal, tasty ways to use it.

For starters, any supermarket with an in-store bakery probably has a "yesterday's baked goods" rack. Expect discounts of 50% or more on all sorts of breads.

Hostess isn't the only company with thrift stores. Use these locator tools to search for bakery outlets near you:

Local or regional baking companies have outlet stores, too. Check the Yellow Pages, either actual or virtual, for "bakery outlet" or "bread outlet."

Use it all

The lineup varies from day to day in both supermarkets and bakery outlets. Any time you see something you use a lot of, get a couple of extras to freeze. Some outlets mark down the bread as it gets closer to the sell-by date, so look for a "last chance" shelf.

Suppose you can't use a loaf quickly enough. Don't toss it! All bread -- even slightly stale bread -- is needed and loved. Here are a few suggestions to get you started:

1. Toast it.
Make a grilled sandwich, or use it for French toast when you serve breakfast for dinner.

2. Make bread pudding.
As a savory side dish or a sweet dessert, this is a simple way to use up old bread. I like to add cinnamon and either diced apples or frozen berries.

3. Make croutons. The basic process is to toss bread cubes in seasoned butter or oil and then toast until crisp.  Do a Bing search for "easy homemade croutons" and you'll never pay for those things again. Try them on soup, since they make even canned tomato bisque a lot more interesting. Speaking of which…

4. Add to onion soup.
Toss small, thick slices of toasted bread (and cheese, if you want it) into the bowl before you pour in the onion broth. Not an onion fan? Then why not . . .

5. Make bread soup
This Tuscan dish, which is all the rage among foodies, can be as simple or elaborate as you like.

6. Use under meatloaf.
Stale bread placed in the bottom of the pan will absorb much of the fat during baking.

Tearing it up

7. Make stuffing mix.
Cut bread into cubes and allow them to dry out. Freeze until the next time you roast poultry. Or sauté onion and celery in a little butter, add seasonings and broth, and stir in bread crumbs to make a side dish for tonight’s dinner.

8. Make bread crumbs.
Cut off the crusts and leave the slices on plates or cookie sheets until they dry out. Grind them in a food processor. Use the results in meat loaf, or to coat foods before frying or baking. Store the crumbs in the freezer.

9. Make suet cakes.
If you're a committed feeder of birds, you know this stuff can get expensive. Recipes vary widely; a Bing search for "homemade suet" shows ingredients such as peanut butter, bread crumbs, lard, oats, black sunflower seeds, flour, raisins, shortening and nuts. Here's the simplest one I've ever heard of: Mix finely ground bread crumbs with chunky peanut butter and smear the mixture on pine cones.

10. Clean the coffee grinder.
The Thrifty Fun website recommends running a quartered slice of bread through the grinder to clean out coffee-bean residue. The post also suggests throwing the resulting bread crumbs out for the birds. Of course, that might make them too jittery to eat the suet cakes.

How do you use old bread?

More on MSN Money:

Jan 8, 2013 10:38AM

While not an every-day activity for me, my favourite use of stale bread is an old plumber's trick.


When soldering copper tubing, any water present can prevent you from achieving a good joint.  Even with the line isolated and drained there is still enough moisture present to be an issue.  The moisture will be drawn to the heat of the torch and act as a heat sink that prevents the pipe from reaching the required temperature.  Inserting a bit of bread upstream of the joint will create a barrier for the water and allow for easy joints.  When the job is complete,  focusing the torch on the area of the pipe where the bread is located will convert the soggy mass into crumbly toast and the water pressure will have no trouble pushing it out of the line when the isolation valve is re-opened.







Nov 28, 2012 5:03AM

I don’t miss hostess as none were near me.  I DO miss Sara Lee & Pepperidge Farm (closed YEARS ago in my area).  I still do have Bimbo (Sara Lee bread products), Entenmann’s (including Arnold 7 Thomas’s) and a local grocery that knocks down good rye bread & rolls daily.  Local produce market had bagels in good to me flavors at 6/$1 on tue, regularly 3/$1.


I am SURE some company (likely Bimbo) will buy the Hostess brand & recipes.


I do make French toast, croutons, bread crumbs & soup topper (good on tomato too).  I also LOVE grilled cheese & Monte Cristo sanwiches.


NOTE:  If you keep your bread in the fridge it lasts a LONG time.

Dec 4, 2012 11:15AM

You can dust paintings with old bread.  It picks up all the dust and isn't abrasive.


I make French Toast--it's my favorite thing to do with eggs that are technically old (but still good to use) and stale bread. Toasted bread with peanut butter is also yummy.

By the way, if you have a garden, plant a few of your sprouting potatoes, onions and sweet potatoes into them and let them grow. Many vegetables grow from roots.  You can dig them out later instead of tossing them and buying fresh.

If you go to a restaurant, ask for a doggy bag and eat the food for tomorrows lunch.  Or you can order appetizers instead of a main dish or ask if the restaurant will allow you to split the entree.  Some places charge a small fee for an extra dish so you can split this with a companion or a child.  Chinese restaurants are particularly good for this since it is common there to buy two or three entrees for three or four people.
Coarse breadcrumbs from old bread are superior to store bought in making Italian meatballs too.  Use chopped meat, garlic, eggs. milk and breadcrumbs.  Form the mixture wet enough that it barely holds together and drop into a cast iron skillet with hot olive oil.  Turn only once.  These meatballs should be no larger than an inch or so across to work properly.  I am not talking the hand sized ones more popular here.  Throw several of these cooked meatballs into hot Italian gravy and serve over spaghetti.
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Donna Freedman's Frugal Nation blog is for readers who want to live cheaply -- whether due to necessity or a lifestyle choice. It explores living sustainably and making life more meaningful at the same time.


Donna Freedman

Donna Freedman, a writer based in Anchorage, Alaska, writes the Frugal Nation blog for MSN Money. She won regional and national prizes during an 18-year newspaper career and earned a college degree in midlife without taking out student loans. Donna also writes about the frugal life for her own site, Surviving and Thriving.