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Budgeted Eats Recipe: Leftover Bread Croutons

Repurposing leftovers keeps things interesting. I know for some leftovers aren’t glamorous at all. For others reheated foods and textures can cause some issues, but my hope is that this recipe is something that most people can enjoy.

I think there are multiple reasons we get overwhelmed thinking of meals for the upcoming week.

  1. We think if we meal prep in bulk then we have to eat the same thing every day, which gets boring.
  2. We think we need to cook something fresh every day, but this can be time consuming.
  3. We have a hard time being creative with flavors and textures to create new meals, which may remind some people why they don’t enjoy cooking.

This post mostly addresses #3, but lightly touches on #2. Let’s make something like new again. I believe that creativity can be in the spices you grab – that it doesn’t need to be extreme. Creativity could also be taking what was a side dish and making it the main attraction.

I’ve been buying bread from the farmer’s market this summer and we’ve been able to have a loaf last about a week between the two of us. However, depending on the loaf, by the sixth or seventh day it’s getting a bit stale regardless of the storage method.

It’s easy to turn more breads into French toast or bread crumbs when it starts to get stale, but croutons and salad sounded like the perfect win for summer.

The loaf in question: a buttery, salty focaccia bread. We had about a sixth of the loaf over – enough to have as a side, not enough to try to share easily without cutting into tiny pieces…so that’s what I did.

What You’ll Need

  • Left over Focaccia bread or bread of choice
  • Italian herb spice blend (I used Mrs. Dash)
  • Optional: 1T extra virgin olive oil
  • Medium-sized mixing bowl
  • Baking tray

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Cube left over bread into roughly 1″ pieces.

3. If using focaccia skip this step. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a mixing bowl. Add bread and toss until all pieces are coated.

4. Sprinkle Italian herb seasoning blend (or a combination of Italian spices: oregano, rosemary, basil, parsley, thyme) and toss until all bread pieces are coated.

5. To prevent the bread from sticking to the baking tray, use a little cooking spray directly on the tray. Remember, this isn’t to help crisp or toast the bread, just preventing it from sticking.

6. Evenly spread bread on baking tray so that each piece can touch the tray. Bake for 8 to 12 minutes or until brown and toasted.

These croutons were simple to make and like mentioned above, since focaccia bread is already made with oil/butter already I didn’t need to add any extra, which helped decrease additional calories that could’ve been added. Every bread is going to be different and investing in good olive oil isn’t a bad thing either!

I’ve mentioned before that olive oil can vary in price and this is because of the processing (cold-pressing with pure olives versus a combination of cold-pressed and processed oils) but for the quantity that you’re typically using does make it worth the cost. It’s possible to spend $8 to $30, so read labels, buy the amount you need.

The bread loaf was $5 and by the time it became croutons we had already gotten three meals each out of it. Easy to say that a serving of this focaccia loaf was well under a dollar.

The spices are something I keep on hand in my pantry, but Mrs. Dash spice blend was about $3.49 at my local grocery store.

While the cost breakdown is a bit challenging since a spice bottle can last forever, I think it is safe to safe that these croutons were about $1 or less to make for both servings I got out of the batch.

I served them on a chicken Caesar salad and it definitely leveled up my salad from bagged croutons.

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