Egg-cellent Ideas for Money Saving and Menu Planning
As usual, Philip has done a great job of analyzing both market and industry as they apply to consumer choice. And as I'm sure you all noted in his article, exercising that choice involves a cost issue. Eggs are a staple for many of us. The price of them, while not completely outrageous, has been on the rise for some time now. The problem is there are so many fun ways to serve them, that cutting back too harshly will be a challenge for those of us who love them. I’ve put together a list of ways to cut corners without feeling the pinch, as well as a list of “eggcellent” menu suggestions. Read on, and tell me what you think.
To keep things organized, I’ll be breaking this piece down into two sections: savings strategies and rockin’ menu suggestions. Since we’re all in this together, I’d love for you all to chime in at the end with additional suggestions and feedback for each category. So, without further ado, let’s get cracking!
- Soy Flour and Water Substitute. I only learned about this a couple of years ago. Apparently, you can mix one tablespoon of water with one tablespoon of soy flour to substitute for one egg when baking, or cooking things like pancakes. I’ve been told at various recipe swaps that you can only do this with up to half of the eggs required for a recipe. So I always took this to mean if a recipe only called for one egg, that you would have to go ahead and use an egg. If anyone else has further info on this, PLEASE let us know. That disclaimer aside, I’ve used this strategy on a few different baked goods and been pleased with the results. If there’s a way to use it on things that only require one egg, that would be fabulous news for me. (More eggs left to use on the yummy dishes below!)
- Buy in Bulk and Shop the Sales. I touched on this strategy in a fair amount of depth in a recent article. It applies to eggs too. You get a fairly significant discount if you buy several dozen at once in the larger multi-packs. If you find a super sale and want to really stock up, don’t be afraid about not using them in time. There’s a technique for that, as you’ll see in a minute.
- Freeze Them. Yes, you can freeze eggs! No, I’m not kidding. You can now add eggs to your list of freezer savings items if you follow this simple set of instructions. First, crack open the extra eggs and put them in a bowl. Next, whip them up with a fork like you were going to scramble them. Then, leaving them raw, put them into a dated and labeled freezer container or bag. When you need them, thaw them out and use them on breakfast pizza, whip them up in a blender with spinach and feta for a fun quiche, plan an omelet bar for a special occasion brunch, etc. As far as using these for baking, I’ve done that too. It just requires a little more advance planning, because I had to decide in advance which baking recipes I was most likely to try, put that exact number of eggs in the container and then pull out when necessary. Now, this may very well be a technique you can use with the ice cube tray strategy, but I admit to not having delved in yet to figure out how many large scrambled raw eggs fit into one cube. I’m guessing no more than two maximum. If it works, it would be great to know you can grab a particular number of cubes to thaw for a particular recipe. I’ll keep you posted, and if you’ve already tried it and have the answer, please . . . keep us posted.
- Include Powdered Egg Products in Your Pantry. This is an area I’m only just beginning to explore myself, but there are apparently a boat load of people out there trying it. There are purchasing options for powdered whole eggs, powdered egg whites and powdered egg yolks. At first exploration, this looks viable as a supplement at the very least, and a way to not have to separate eggs when baking, which I’ve always thought was a colossal pain in the neck. They also store quite well and for a quite a long time.
- Flax Meal. While I’ve known about the soy flour idea for a while, I only came across this strategy while researching options for this post. This quick idea is from the Flax Council of Canada: Basically you mix one tablespoon of flax meal (ground flax seed) with three tablespoons of water in a small bowl and let sit for 2-3 minutes to thicken before adding to the recipe.
- Harvest Your Own. This option is not for everyone, clearly. I may have romantic notions of trying it on my own some day, but I’m under no illusions. I’ll want a property / farm manager to back me up if that day ever comes. Our neighbors in Arizona used to do it though, and were open to selling them for a couple of bucks a dozen (worth it to eat fresh as an extra treat) or to bartering for other things like casseroles, a few minutes of babysitting while they ran to take care of quick errands unencumbered, etc.
- Mix and Match. By this, I mean combining these and other strategies in a way that works for you and provides flexibility with supply, sale schedules, storage needs, emergency preparation, etc. For example, one strategy I’m beginning to use is incorporating the substitutions as exclusively as possible when baking and cooking things that don’t actually involve the eggs themselves as a feature item. That way, I can feel free to enjoy them decadently in meals that celebrate them as an ingredient. Here's a link with some egg substitution ideas that didn't necessarily make the above list.
EGG-CELLENT MEAL AND MENU SUGGESTIONS
- Strata. This is elegant as a main or side dish, and a great way to use up leftovers.
- Crème Brulee. Elegant and traditional. Bonus? Guys who dig cooking with flame get to use a blow torch. How cool is that?
- Hard Boiled for Flexibility. Doing a few of these up at the beginning of the week is a great way to have an extra protein fix during the day, serve a nice chef’s salad the night after a dinner of the roast beast of your choice, or to whip a last minute batch of deviled eggs for a hospitality emergency (funeral, early baby delivery, last minute invitation or drop by, etc).
- Omelets. You can make these quite elaborate if you want, and they are great for lunch or dinner. If you are less than Martha Stewart savvy on flipping them in one piece (like me), a “meal scramble” is still a suitable substitute.
- Homemade Breakfast Sandwiches. Think about any of your favorite drive through breakfast sandwich options and you can basically pull them off at home. Eggs, cheese and the breakfast meat of your choice will go great between bagels, homemade English muffins, mini pancakes and more.
- Quiche. Great hot, cold or at room temperature. I’ve gotten very comfortable with the room temp version served with a crisp salad and a wine spritzer.
- Frittata. This is basically quiche without the crust, and can be cooked in the oven or in a frying pan. I baked a square one once and cut it into serving sections. We got a couple of days of meals out of it, and felt like we were back in Europe.
- Breakfast Pizza. Those of you who enjoyed the sale ham suggestion list may remember this one. It’s basically pizza with scrambled raw eggs on top and breakfast items added. You then bake it off and the eggs puff up to create a fun breakfast version of this popular treat. I’ve also heard of people folding the crust over and sealing it for a breakfast calzone.
- Breakfast Burritos. Scrambled eggs with sausage, cheese, green peppers and onions all wrapped up in a tortilla. Don’t forget the hot sauce.
- Huevos Rancheros. Another yummy breakfast idea from the Southwestern United States.
- Eggs Florentine. Great for a sit down brunch.
- Breakfast Casseroles. There are many different recipes and ideas for how to pull these off. We have one every Christmas morning that I make up the night before. It uses baking mix, sausage, eggs, peppers and any other spicy addition I feel like throwing in. It’s nice to have a special meal in the morning that I can just toss in. That way, we can both kick back with coffee and Bailey’s while we enjoy the day together. Of course, you don’t have to wait until Christmas.
- Egg Drop Soup. A little flair for a work at home lunch. If you really don’t want to think that much about it, toss one in to cook with your ramen. You’ll still be grabbing lunch for pennies.
While the rising cost of eggs might not be as high on the radar for some of us, it’s of major concern to others. For us, the cost per dozen isn’t nearly as much of an issue as some of the other protein sources, although we are paying attention to the situation and taking a few steps. Whether you are finding eggs of moderate or major concern, I hope this piece helps you feel more empowered and in possession of a few more choices. Have other ideas or follow up questions? Sound off below!