It is officially summer and around here we are eating a ton of salads for lunches and dinners. There is nothing more delicious in summer than a salad piled high with fresh fruits, veggies, nuts, and of course croutons. The toppings in my mind can make or break a salad. I love the crunch that croutons give a salad. My kiddo loves croutons too. He will literally eat a box of croutons if I don't keep an eye on him. He will put a few in his salad and eat the rest like chips.
Croutons probably aren't the most unhealthy thing he eats, but they aren't cheap. Where I shop they will set you back $1-2 a box. Those boxes aren't really that big either. If my whole family eats two salads a day we can easily go through a box a day. Making your own croutons is very easy and uses up any leftover or stale bread and buns you have in the house. Although I was pretty confident it is way cheaper to make your own croutons I decided to do a Make It or Buy It: Croutons to really see.
Making croutons is pretty simple. I like to use leftover bread and I had 4 heels off of a couple of loaves of bread, plus a pretzel bun that had been forgotten about. Chop your bread or buns up into crouton-sized bites and put them in a large bowl. Any stale bread or buns should work you just need about 2-3 cups of bread once they have been cut up.
Add 1/4 cup oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder, and a dash or two of pepper to the bowl. Stir the bread up until the oil is mixed into all of the pieces. Add 2 tablespoons of shredded parmesan cheese and mix that in. Spread out on a large tray and bake in the oven at 375 for about 8-10 minutes.
When the croutons are done to the right crispiness that you like remove them from the oven and let them cool. Once cool you can store in an airtight container for up to one week. Just add them to any salad to enjoy.
So is it cheaper to make the croutons or buy them? I consider the bread to be free because I am going to just throw it out if I don't use it. The parmesan cheese costs $.20, vegetable oil is $.10, less than $.01 in both salt and pepper, and about $.01 for the garlic salt. Total for about 3 cups of croutons: $.32. Not too bad considering a box is normally $1-2 each.
So if you are looking for extra ways to save money making your croutons using leftover bread can help save you over buying croutons from the store. Do you make or buy your croutons?
Make It or Buy It: Croutons
2-3 cups chopped bread or buns
1/4 cup oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
dash or two of pepper
2 tablespoons parmesan cheese
Chop your bread or buns up into crouton-sized bites and put them in a large bowl. Add 1/4 cup oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder, and a dash or two of pepper to the bowl. Stir the bread up until the oil is mixed into all of the pieces. Add 2 tablespoons of shredded parmesan cheese and mix that in. Spread out on a large tray and bake in the oven at 375 for about 8-10 minutes until crispy. Let cool and store in an airtight container for up to a week.