Milk and bread — they’re easily the two most stereotypical grocery list items. If this were a sitcom and the mom had to go to the store, she’d definitely come back with bread and milk.
They’ve made their way into popular idioms (“land of milk and honey,” “the best thing since sliced bread”) and into countless stock photos of groceries peeking out of a brown bag.
Luckily, the fame of these staples is warranted: They serve as the basis for innumerable recipes at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. So we wouldn’t be surprised if, during the COVID-19 pandemic, you stocked up on them both.
To help you get through your daily bread (and not have to cry over spilled — or spoiled — milk), we’ve put together a plan to use up a full gallon and an entire loaf before they turn.
One unavoidable truth about bread and milk is that they’re both perishable. If you don’t act fast enough, they’ll have to be tossed.
To avoid having to throw out any bread, divide the loaf in half when you bring it home from the store. Keep one half on the counter or in a bread box (if you’re cool enough to have a bread box) and stash the rest in the freezer.
Storing milk is, of course, another story. Though you can freeze this creamy drink, its fat content means it may have some unpleasant separation when thawed. (Ew.)
For the best-tasting milk, store it in the fridge and use it when it’s fresh. If opened before its printed expiration date, milk shouldn’t have a major decrease in freshness in a week — and it may even last longer than 7 days in the fridge.
Harken back to your third grade math class: Just how many cups are in a gallon? If you said 16, give yourself a gold star.
Getting through 16 cups of milk in a week may sound like a tall order (especially if your household consists of only you, your roommate, and their cat), but it’s not impossible. The following recipes feature milk’s creamy freshness early in the week, working up to cooked recipes later on.
Unlike a gallon of milk, the size of a loaf of bread isn’t so definite. A standard loaf in the United States can contain anywhere from 12 to 24 slices — far larger than the loaves you might find on grocery shelves elsewhere in the world. (Ever seen Korean bread?)
This plan uses about 16 slices of white bread.
Fresh milk and bread both lend themselves well to the first meal of the day. Start your week off with a couple of healthy breakfast options.
*Uses 2 slices of bread for 1 serving
Yeah, we know avo toast has become a hipster cliché… but it’s also full of healthy fats and antioxidants, and it tastes like Sunday morning. Plus, if you make it at home, you don’t have to pay the 400 percent markup!
This recipe from Spend with Pennies is simple: Toast fresh sourdough to crispy perfection, add mashed avocado, drizzle some extra-virgin olive oil, and finish it off with freshly ground pepper.
Freezer smoothie packs
*Uses 3 cups of milk for 3 servings
Milk may not freeze well, but fruits and veggies certainly do. Early in the week, make these smoothie packs from Dessert Now, Dinner Later using good-for-you ingredients like frozen mangoes and spinach.
When you’re ready for a refreshing breakfast, simply pull a pack from the freezer and blend it with 1 cup of milk. Three mornings of smoothies will knock out 3 cups of your gallon.
By the middle of the week, your bread should be staying fresh(ish) on the counter while the milk holds steady in the fridge. Put them both to work in a comfort-food dinner and tasty breakfast.
Creamy potato soup
*Uses 6 cups of milk for 8 servings
Sometimes simple recipes are the best — especially simple soups. To use up more milk, make a double batch of this creamy meatless chowder from Pinch of Yum and freeze half.
Single-slice garlic cheese bread
*Uses 4 slices for 2 servings
Can anyone honestly say they don’t like cheesy garlic bread? That said, having a whole loaf of it in the house might be a little too tempting.
To avoid eating all your bread in one meal, try making it slice by slice with this recipe from Café Delites. For two people, four cheesy slices make the perfect dipping vessel for your creamy potato soup.
Blueberry baked oatmeal
*Uses 4 cups of milk for 8 servings
This family-size batch of berry-licious baked oatmeal from Little by Little Farmhouse makes a 13-by-9 inch pan.
If your household isn’t large enough — or ravenous enough at breakfast — to wolf down a whole sheet pan of oatmeal, wrap individual portions tightly and freeze them.
Reheat in the microwave (with an extra drizzle of milk!) for a tasty, fiber-filled start to the day.
By the end of the week, the last few cups of milk in your gallon should still be good to eat (or drink). But if they’ve passed the peak of freshness, baked and cooked recipes will hide it well.
As for your remaining bread, now’s the time to haul it from the freezer — you’re about to finish what you started.
White sauce pasta
*Uses 1 cup of milk for 6 servings
Just as your milk and bread supply may be waning by the end of the week, other ingredients may be running low.
A simple dinner like this one from Lil’ Luna uses basics you likely still have in stock, like pasta, chicken broth, Parmesan, and (obvs) milk. Though it doesn’t require anything fancy, it still manages to taste delish.
Ham and cheese easy breakfast casserole
*Uses ~10 slices of bread and 2 cups of milk for 6 servings
We’ll grant that a ham and egg casserole may sound like a breakfast food, but who doesn’t love a little BFD (breakfast for dinner) or even BFL (breakfast for lunch)?
To make this dead-easy brunch bake, you’ll revive less-than-fresh bread chunks by soaking them in milk and adding ham, cheese, and green chiles. Recipe made too much? No problem: Leftovers work well for any meal of the day.
Sarah Garone is a nutritionist, freelance writer, and food blogger. Find her sharing down-to-earth nutrition info at A Love Letter to Food or follow her on Twitter.