StopWaste continues its series on making great use of food that would otherwise go to waste. 

Fresh bread is one of the first things to go bad in our homes, in most cases becoming dry and stale. Old-fashioned breadboxes are an uncommon sight in today’s kitchens, but they are still the best way to keep bread fresh. That’s because breadboxes trap just enough moisture to prevent drying out without allowing your bread to get moldy. For long-term storage, you can slice and freeze bread in a sealed plastic bag. 

However, even with the right storage techniques, most of us have ended up with stale bread, sometimes hard enough to break a tooth. Before you toss your bread in the compost, consider turning it into breadcrumbs, making croutons, or giving your stale loaf a second life as a tasty bread pudding, perfect for any holiday gathering. White bread like challah, baguettes, or dinner rolls work best.

Holiday Bread Pudding
Serves 6

2 cups milk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup sugar
5 cups of stale challah (or other bread) cut into 2-inch cubes
2 eggs, beaten

Preheat oven to 350°. Heat milk, butter, vanilla, and sugar in a saucepan over low heat on the stove until butter is melted. 

As the mixture is cooling, grease the bottom and sides of a loaf pan and fill with bread cubes. Add 2 beaten eggs to the cooled milk mixture and pour over the bread. Bake for 30–45 minutes until the top is golden brown and the liquid has set. (Don’t let the bread pudding get too dry; it should still wobble a bit.) 

There are endless variations to this recipe: Add cinnamon or nuts and raisins, or serve the pudding with hot vanilla sauce. If you want to get fancy, try this Bourbon-Poached Pear Bread Pudding with Cajeta

For more tips and easy-to-follow recipes that reduce food waste and make the most of food you already have, visit StopFoodWaste.org, a project by Alameda County public agency StopWaste. 

Photos courtesy of StopWaste.