A large part of saving money and providing wholesome foods for your family on a budget depends on using what you have, and getting as much good use out of your foods as possible. The grocery bill in an average household is one of the highest monthly expenses–probably in direct competition with the mortgage in many homes, I’d venture to bet.
A lot of time and effort goes into producing the food we eat here on our little self sufficient homestead. That includes the baked goods and breads that are mainstays in the house. I make all of my own bread because it is cheaper and it is much better, and I can control what goes into it–and the preservatives that don’t!
That’s a story for a different day, but the point I am coming to is that for all the time, money, and effort that goes into our diet, I certainly don’t want to waste it! And the way to do that is to get as much use out of all of it as I can. It makes me feel better about cutting down the waste and diminishing my “footprint” upon the earth, but more practically, it saves us LOADS of money!
Extending the use of my “waste” bread (ends, random pieces, older slices and drying pieces) is one of the easiest and tastiest of my little kitchen hacks. And one of the most versatile and well-loved is home made croutons. Homemade croutons are so simple to make, it’s really silly not to. And I think you’ll find the results are OH so much better than what’s boxed up at the store. So here’s how to get the most of your bread odds and ends by making home made croutons.
Very simply, all you have to do is this:
- Cut leftover bread into cubes of desired size – usually about an inch square for me. Undried or dried is fine; in fact you can do it from a perfectly good, fresh loaf, too.
- Spread bread cubes on a cookie sheet and toss with vegetable or olive oil (olive oil is best, but you can use what you have, too–melted butter works as well). Sprinkle with any desired flavorings, such as herb mixes, seasoning salts, garlic powder, Parmesan cheese….really, whatever you like.
- Toast in preheated 350 degree oven until crunchy (this will depend somewhat on whether you started with moist or dry cubes; check after 10 minutes and every 5 or 10 after that, but for moist bread expect more towards 20 or 30 minutes.
*Just a note: don’t be afraid to mix-and-match different bread flavors like whites and ryes or wheat or all of the above (or more!). It just adds dimension and flavor variety to your croutons.
That’s it! Just cool and eat. These delicious homemade croutons are excellent for salads, of course, but also in soups, snack mixes, as toppings to macaroni and cheese, casseroles, or even just as a crunchy snack on the go! Honestly if I don’t hide them from the kids, they seldom see a life long enough for any of these uses!
The best part about it is that home made croutons couldn’t get cheaper. You’re using what you have and getting more than your money’s worth. Do enjoy!