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While making breakfast the other day, I scorched the toast. Automatically I scraped off the Cajun part before smearing on some butter and homemade jam. Then I started to wonder: How many people would have just thrown it in the trash and started over?
I grew up scraping toast. My family would have considered it wasteful to toss charred chow, given how simple it is to fix.
Once I read a frugality message board topic about what to do with the “heels” of bread loaves. Use or toss?
Use, definitely. Some suggestions…
- Dry them – in the microwave or toaster oven, or on the counter – and grind them up for bread crumbs
- Prepare bread crumbs, as above, then mix with bird seed and peanut butter; smear on pine cones for birds; or smear the bread heels with peanut butter to make dog treats
- Make stuffing or croutons
- Use them atop onion soup
- Run through the coffee grinder to clean it
- Wrap them around hot dogs
- Make bread pudding
- Put them under meat loaf before baking to absorb most of the grease
- Put one in a container of homemade cookies or a bag of brown sugar to keep these items soft
Or just eat them. My sister says the heels make the best toast. I disagree, but I will use two heels “inside-out” because it gives me an extra sandwich from each loaf.
Our daily bread
People who have no qualms about throwing away food might think these ideas are a little extreme. The end pieces aren’t as attractive as the rest of the loaf. And surely anything scorched is ruined, right?
The Complete Tightwad Gazette author Amy Dacyczyn wrote of hearing groans of dismay from a television audience when she shared a frugal trick: If cookies are a little burned on the bottom, use a grater to scrape off the yucky part.
Some would consider that appalling. I thought it was clever.
The waste of food in this country is staggering. It reflects poor stewardship of resources, an increasing separation from the production of the food we eat, and an inability to comprehend just how blessed we are.
If you’re hungry in the United States, you will be fed. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, food banks, free school lunches (and maybe breakfasts), soup kitchens, WIC, church pantries, and who knows how many other agencies can help.
Perhaps you won’t be fed as richly or conveniently as you’d like, but you’ll almost certainly not starve to death. This is not a country where pedestrians routinely step over the prostrate bodies of the chronically malnourished. Or over corpses.
The gift we’ve been given
That’s not to say that people don’t go hungry here. They do. Which makes throwing away even a bread heel kind of startling. Do you have any idea how fortunate you are even to consider rejecting food that doesn’t meet your standards?
They say that if you watch your pennies, the dollars will take care of themselves. I think this applies to our food budgets too. If you use food resources wisely your grocery bill will go down, one sandwich at a time.
But it’s more than just frugality. It’s acknowledging the astonishing gift that we’ve been given: the ability to obtain food with relative ease.
Those of you who throw out leftovers because they’re “old,” – i.e., they’re from a meal prepared two days ago? News flash: They got old because you chose not to eat them, because for you there will always be something else in the cupboard or in the pile of takeout menus on top of the fridge.
Or so you think. How many unemployed or underemployed folks out there are now eating the end pieces? Ask them what they’d do if they accidentally burned the toast.
More stories from Donna Freedman: