Meatballs. Homemade chicken fingers that are so much healthier than fast-food bought nuggets. Eggplant Parmesan. Cookies*. What do all of these foods have in common? Breadcrumbs.

You've probably been buying breadcrumbs from the store since the first time you made a recipe that required them. You can stop that now. Make your own.

  1. It’s practically free. Since breadcrumbs are made from the crusts of bread or bread that has gone stale, you make them with bread that you would waste otherwise. You won’t spend money on store-bought breadcrumbs and you won’t waste bread that you’ve already bought.
  2. There will be less packaging waste. You won’t have the containers that bread crumbs come in if you make your own and store them in a reusable container.
  3. You control what’s in the breadcrumbs. Here are the ingredients in a commercial brand of plain breadcrumbs, Colonna. The ingredients in italics are ones that the Don't Eat That app on my iPhone says are ingredients to be concerned about.
    Enriched bread (enriched wheat flour, malted barley, niacin, ferrous sulfate, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid, water, high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, partially hydrogenated vegetable oil), (soybean and/or cottonseed oil and/or canola and corn oils). May contain salt, yeast, sugar, honey, sesame and/or poppy seeds, molasses, wheat gluten, whey, soy flour, whole wheat flour, rye flour, oat bran, corn flour, corn meal, rice flour, potato flour, butter, skim milk, buttermilk, lactic acid, distilled vinegar, soy lecithin, dough conditioners (mono and diglycerides, sodium and/or calcium stearoyl lactylate), yeast nutrients (contains one or more of the following: monocalcium phosphate, potassium bromate, calcium sulfate, ammonium sulfate); calcium propionate (preservative), potassium sorbate (preservative).

    If you make your own bread, you can really control what goes in your breadcrumbs. Even if you don’t, if you choose to buy bread that doesn’t have high fructose corn syrup, partially hydrogenated oils, and many of the other unwanted ingredients in it, you can keep a lot of unhealthy stuff out.
  4. You can customize the seasonings. You can buy seasoned breadcrumbs, but you’ve already got seasonings sitting in jars in your kitchen. You can customize the seasonings and help use up some of your dried herbs and spices before they lose their potency.
  5. It will ensure you’re never out of breadcrumbs when you need them. If you know how to make your own breadcrumbs, you’ll never be at a loss when you’re making meatballs and realize you’re out of breadcrumbs. You can just make them.
In this video, Chef Paul Prudhomme demonstrates how easy it is to make breadcrumbs with dried out bread. If you don’t have the time to let bread air dry, dry it in the oven at a low heat until all the moisture is out before you make the crumbs.

* Cookies?! Yes, I found this recipe for breadcrumb cookies that apparently won ribbons at a county fair.

Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

5 reasons to make your own breadcrumbs
Never use store bought breadcrumbs again. You'll never use store-bought breadcrumbs again.