Hang onto that challah!
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Whether you're spending the morning at your local farmers market or gearing up for your weekly trek to Kroger or Trader Joe's, some type of bread is probably on your shopping list. After all, the staple can easily be a part of every meal or snack. For breakfast, for example, you may enjoy toast with some fresh fruit, while lunch is the perfect time to take your favorite bread and use it as the base of a tasty sandwich. Dinner, on the other hand, may consist of a hearty soup with a fresh loaf on the side, or a comforting grilled cheese.

However, despite bread's many uses, there are times when you may have a few slices of whole wheat remaining, or half a baguette that needs to find a purpose before it becomes too stale and inedible. And while it is possible to freeze most breads if you have the freezer space, sometimes you just want to use up those leftovers ASAP before they start to develop mold and wind up in the garbage.

Lemon-Thyme Rhubarb Bread Pudding
Credit: VICTOR PROTASIO

Luckily, there are many easy recipes you can make that call for leftover bread. On its own, that days-old boule may be past its prime, but if you cut it up and use it to make croutons or toss it in some homemade soup, we guarantee that it will go from nearly forgotten leftovers to a savory star. Plus, by finding a new home for your leftover bread, you've helped reduce food waste!

Keep reading for ideas on how to use all different types of leftover bread to elevate your meals. We've got recipes that call for stale English muffins, challah, and more.

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Credit: VICTOR PROTASIO

1 Tuscan Bread Soup With Beans (Ribollita)

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You know what the star of this savory soup is? Bread. Sure, the tomato-based, vegetable-filled broth is tasty in its own right, but what really sets this soup apart from similar dishes is the inclusion of half a loaf of crusty bread (think boule or sourdough) that's cut into chunks and tossed directly into the broth. Trust us, you won't regret giving your bread a second lease on life courtesy of this soup.

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2 Butter-and-Herb Croutons

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Give an aging loaf of white sandwich bread a new life by cutting it up into half-inch pieces and making homemade croutons. These salad toppers get a flavorful boost thanks to a garlic and rosemary butter, which is surprisingly easy to make. Use the finished products to garnish a bowl of soup or a fresh salad.

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3 BLT Panzanella

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Speaking of salad, this dish mixes the classic flavors of a BLT sandwich with a panzanella—an Italian bread salad. The result is a family-friendly meal that, in addition to leftover bread, is made with bacon, arugula, avocado, fresh basil, and more. If you've got some day-old crusty bread that could use a second home, this is it. In fact, the heartier the bread is, the better it will fare with the juicy tomatoes and honey mustard dressing.

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4 Herb Stuffing

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Who says stuffing is only for Thanksgiving? This classic version makes a great side during the post-holiday season, and can be served alongside an array of meat and poultry dishes. If you've got some extra baguettes, go ahead and leave them on the counter overnight for this recipe, which also includes onions, celery, and dried mushrooms.

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Savory Bread Strata
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5 Savory Bread Strata

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Use leftover white, sourdough, or whole-wheat bread (or a combo of the three!) to whip up this savory breakfast or brunch classic. Here, day-old bread is combined with eggs, veggies, and grated cheese to create a casserole-like meal that won't disappoint.

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6 Mac and Cheese With Herbed English Muffin Breadcrumbs

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If you've got an extra few English muffins lying around, pull them from the breakfast rotation and consider using them to make breadcrumbs instead. In this recipe, English muffin breadcrumbs are combined with grated Pecorino and used to top a hearty platter of mac and cheese. Other breads, like sourdough and multigrain, can be transformed into crumbs and used to top various pastas, vegetable side dishes, and more.

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7 French Toast Casserole

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Chances are you've probably used leftover bread to make some French toast, but this casserole takes things to a whole new level. For starters, this dish is especially helpful if you need to use up an entire loaf of bread (we recommend sourdough or country bread), and is great if you're entertaining a group of friends for brunch. You still get that classic French toast taste (thanks to maple syrup, ground cinnamon, and vanilla extract), but turbinado sugar and pecan-raisin topping easily kicks things up a notch.

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Lemon-Thyme Rhubarb Bread Pudding
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8 Lemon-Thyme Rhubarb Bread Pudding

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Believe it or not, leftover bread can find a second life in a dessert, too. Here, challah chunks are paired with lemon zest, fresh thyme leaves, and fresh rhubarb stalks to create a tart, sweet, and rich bread pudding. And since challah is already a moist bread, you don't need to soak it for as long as you would a crusty loaf or baguette, which are typically used to make bread pudding.