Crumbs! Use your loaf and save dough by recycling bread, says Nancy Birtwhistle


The millions of slices of stale bread thrown away each day could be used in puddings, croutons or shepherd's pie topping, The Great British Bake Off winner Nancy Birtwhistle said.

Birtwhistle, who won the BBC competition last year, is backing a campaign to cut down on the 24 million slices of bread, or 1.3 million loaves, thrown away each day, costing consumers money and creating greenhouse gases.

A survey for the Love Food Hate Waste campaign found four fifths of people (79%) have thrown bread away before finishing the loaf, and 18% had binned a forgotten loaf before opening it, often because it has gone stale.

Love Food Hate Waste has launched a Use Your Loaf drive to cut down on waste with tips including putting bread in the freezer, but not in the fridge which makes it go stale quicker, or turning stale bread into breadcrumbs which can be stored in the freezer

Among the recipes Birtwhistle suggested for using old bread include making croutons with crusts children will not eat, using herbs, parmesan or olive tapenade, or shepherd's pie topped with breadcrumbs, creme fraiche and cheese.

Stale slices can even be turned into puddings such as apple Charlotte, an oven-baked dessert using buttered bread and apples.

Birtwhistle said she did not want to preach to mothers coming home from work to hungry children, but suggested simple tips such as having a bag of breadcrumbs in the freezer to use in easy-to-make pie topping for shepherd's pie, which can be made in batches and frozen.

"I've been there and done it as a working mother. If it means you have to take a book off the shelf it's slowing you down, and it's easier to go out and buy breadcrumbs or croutons.

"Things have to be simple, so you only have to do things once or twice and you don't need the book any more."

Birtwhistle, who is "passionate" about avoiding food waste and says her favourite bread is tiger bread which keeps longer than other home-made bread, said she was watching this year's Bake Off and found "it's quite relaxing to watch when you're not in it".

The food made in the show was not wasted, with the star baker's creations being eaten by the crew before the bakers had completed their interviews each week, she added.

She also suggested people were less likely to throw things away if they had made it themselves, and that the Great British Bake Off was spurring people to do more baking.

"It's inspiring people to have a go. It doesn't matter if it's a bit wrong or it doesn't look brilliant, you've made it yourself and it tastes fantastic, and you know what's gone into it," she said.

:: For tips and recipes for saving bread, people can go to

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