Sans Meal Plan: Embracing Eggs
For those of you students left to fend for yourselves food-wise, the following story may be familiar: It’s eight o’clock in the evening. You ate Pop-Tarts for breakfast and grabbed a sandwich for lunch. You are comfortable in your sweatpants and are much too lazy to leave your apartment again before class tomorrow. You stare longingly at an unexciting fridge, wishing Mom were around to make food magically appear on your plate.
It seems as though you have only a few options. You could order takeout (again), though the Domino’s delivery guy is starting to ask how your exams are going, so maybe you should cool it with the usual pie and Cinna Stix. You could also eat that box of Cheez-Its sitting in your cupboard — the temptress. Or, you could embrace the wonder that is the egg and become a breakfast-for-dinner gourmand. Though I do argue that Cheez-Its make a damn fine meal (breaking news: Parmesan & Garlic’s secret ingredient is actually crack cocaine, the evil geniuses), occasionally it is nice to have a hot, healthy, well-balanced meal in front of you. Even better, after experimenting with eggs and the endless cooking opportunities at your disposal, you will undoubtedly realize that you can make those egg-centric dishes you order at brunch spots just as easily as the guy in the kitchen—and for much less money.
Meals that cast eggs as their main star make wonderful additions to your cooking repertoire, no matter the occasion. The recipes are infinite, starting from the novice microwaveable egg-in-a-mug, moving towards a simple stovetop scrambled or fried egg, to fancy brunch-worthy omelets, quiches, frittatas, and Spanish tortillas. I cannot stress how useful it can be to learn how to prepare such dishes, especially when cooking regularly for yourself on a budget. Eggs are perfect for off-campus survival because you can tailor amounts to suit your needs. For example, if you want a quick batch of eggs and bacon before class, just crack the appropriate number of eggs over a hot pan. If you want to feed yourself for a few days, make a delicious frittata or quiche that you can cut wedges out of and accompany with a small salad. Don’t like mushrooms? Fine, don’t put them in. Love cheese? Grate the entire block in! Eggs are extremely cheap — around 15 to 20 cents a pop — and recipes can be adjusted seasonally based on which vegetables are currently optimal. Best of all, you don’t even have to make the seemingly abysmal one-mile walk in a blizzard to Eastside Marketplace or Whole Foods in order to buy your ingredients — everything you could possibly want in your basic omelet is sold at CVS or Tedeschi (though at an inflated price).
At any given time, my refrigerator is always stocked with the following: eggs, tomatoes, mushrooms, spinach, onion, and garlic. These are the ingredients to the gargantuan scramble I make for lunch a couple of times a week (topped with salsa and hot sauce, of course … everyone knows that eggs are just a vehicle for eating salsa!). If I have other veggies, meats, or cheeses, I also add those to the pan. I have been known to make killer breakfast burritos (Bagel Gourmet Ole, I challenge thee to a duel!) and frittatas filled with Parmesan cheese. One time, I made these adorable muffins made of eggs, cheese and sausage. I assure you, there is a recipe to be made with eggs plus anything you have lying around the kitchen, and it will be delicious! And, if for some reason you find yourself not eating your eggs fast enough, consider it an excuse to make homemade chocolate chip cookies or brownies with whatever is left over: double win!