Leaving leftover bread out to stale is actually on of the best ways to preserve it. When my bread has past its prime (usually 5 days for a home-made sourdough loaf– breads that are not leavened with sourdough will stale more quickly) I cut off the crust and tear the remaining bread into pieces. Leave these pieces out on a sheet tray and they will be completely stale and dried in about a day, depending on the climate you live in. Bread scraps dried in this manner can be kept for a very long time, then used for croutons, puddings, stuffing and breadcrumbs. To make breadcrumbs simply throw thoroughly dried bread pieces in your food processor. Bread crumbs and dried out hunks of bread can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature.
You can also keep your fresh bread in your freezer, wrapped tightly with two layers of plastic wrap– I’ll often do this if I know that I’m not going to be using a whole loaf right away. Or it can be convenient to make two loaves at once and save one in the freezer for later. Refresh your frozen loaf by throwing it directly into the oven for a few minutes. When I make a light sandwich loaf or brioche (even on a budget, I am of the opinion that we all deserve some pastry-related excess) I slice the whole loaf at once and throw it in the freezer. Then I toast individual slices as I need them. I find this method keeps the bread fresh enough that I am excited to eat it even when it gets down to the very last slice.