You may have graduated from college and figured out how to pay for your own healthcare, but if you’re buying overpriced bags of hardboiled eggs at the grocery store, you’re doing it wrong. Commit these easy recipes to memory now, and save yourself money and embarrassment later.
1. How to Hard Boil an Egg
Eggs are a cheap food that’s easy to prepare. Keep a few hard boiled eggs on hand for breakfast on the go or mix a few with mayo for egg salad.
Place eggs in a pot and cover them in water by one inch. Sprinkle in about a teaspoon of baking soda. Bring to a boil, then immediately remove from heat, cover, and let sit for about 10 minutes. Put the pot in the sink and run cold water into the pot until eggs are brought to room temperature. Chill until ready to peel.
For soft boiled eggs: bring the water to a boil without the eggs. Immediately reduce to a simmer, and add the eggs. Let sit for 6 minutes, then remove the eggs from the hot water and let cool in ice water. Peel carefully, as eggs are much softer.
2. Brown Sugar
Photo by Marcello/Flickr
If you’re not a regular baker, you probably don’t want to keep multiple sugars on hand. But if you have regular white sugar and molasses, you can make light or dark brown sugar any time you’d like.
In a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, begin to whisk sugar at medium speed (I suggest starting with about 2 cups) drizzle in molasses by about 1/4th cup. Let the mixer run until there are no clumps. The more molasses you add, the darker the brown sugar will be.
Photo by Naotake Murayama/Flickr
Guacamole can get pricey. Make your own and save a few bucks without compromising
1 small tomato, diced
1 garlic clove, crushed
½ tsp cumin
1 tsp cilantro
1 tsp lime juice
Salt and pepper, to taste
Using a fork, mash the avocado with the garlic, lime juice, and cumin until desired texture is reached (clumpy is often preferred). Gently fold in the remaining ingredients, and salt and pepper to taste. For a spicier guac, add a chopped jalapeno.
4. Grill a Burger
Photo by Guian Bolisay/Flickr
Stop buying pre-made patties and cut your fast food runs down by teaching yourself how to grill (or at least pan-fry) a burger.
1 lb ground beef
Salt and pepper
You can use a charcoal or propane grill, or a grill pan over a stove on high heat. Be sure to spray with cooking spray to keep your burgers from sticking. Gently form ground beef into ¾” discs, and press a slight dip in the center of each (the meat will puff up in the center, and this ensures an even grill). Sprinkle with salt and pepper, or other desired seasonings, and grill for five minutes on each side. If you’d like medium-well to well-done burgers, you can cook for another 3 minutes on each side.
5. Microwave a Potato
Another simple meal: top a baked potato with cheese, sour cream and bacon
Pierce a potato all over with a fork. Wrap in a moist paper towel and place on a microwave safe plate. Microwave on high for 7 minutes, or until soft.
6. Poach Chicken
Photo by Joy/Flickr
Poached chicken can be easily shredded and used in any number of recipes—from chicken salad to chicken enchiladas and chicken soup.
1 lb chicken breast
1 tsp peppercorns
1 bay leaf
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1 tsp salt
In a large sauce pan or Dutch oven, cover chicken breasts with at least 1 inch of cold water. Heat on high, until the water just begins to simmer, then turn the heat to low and cover. Cook for 15 minutes, or until a meat thermometer reads 165 degrees F.
7. Simple Syrup
There is absolutely no excuse to ever buy simple syrup when it’s so… well, simple to make.
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
In a small saucepan over medium heat, mix together the sugar and water until sugar is completely dissolved. Let cool to room temperature, and refrigerate until ready to use.
8. Thicken a Sauce
If your gravy didn’t turn out as thick as you’d like, don’t fear. This simple slurry will thicken any sauce.
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon cold water
Whisk together until smooth. Pour mixture into sauce and whisk until thickened. For each cup of liquid you wish to thicken, use 1 tablespoon cornstarch and 1 tablespoon water.
Photo by Judit Klein/Flickr
Another recipe that costs less to make than to buy. Add in any number of extra seasonings to bring the flavor to the next level.
1 can chickpeas
2 tbsp olive oil
1 garlic clove
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp tahini or sesame seeds
½ tsp cumin
Salt and pepper, to taste
Put all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Taste, and adjust ingredients as necessary.
10. Bake Bacon
Frying bacon on the stove is time consuming—and if you want crispy bacon, you need to constantly drain the fat off the pan. Baking ensures a crispier bacon with little effort on your part.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. On a metal rack placed on a baking sheet, line up your bacon. Bake for 15 minutes, or until desired crispiness is reached.
Bonus: this reserves the bacon grease for cooking later.
11. Whipped Cream
The canned stuff is fun, but nothing beats fresh homemade whipped cream.
1 cup cold heavy whipping cream
¼ cup powdered sugar
Pinch of salt
In the bowl stand mixer, gently stir together the sugar, salt and cream. With the whisk attachment, turn the mixer on high (put a splatter guard or tea towel over the bowl to reduce mess) and whip for one minute, or until the cream makes stiff peaks.
Photo by Brian Child/Flickr
So simple, yet so many people buy pre-cooked rice. Save money by learning how to cook the dry stuff, like real adults have been doing for hundreds of years.
1 cup rice
2 cups water or broth
In a medium saucepan, bring the water or broth to a boil. Add the rice, cover, and reduce the heat to low. After about 15 minutes, check the rice and give it a stir. If rice is still crunchy, let cook for increments of 3-5 minutes, stirring and checking until tender. When rice is tender, remove from heat and cover. Let sit for 3 minutes, then fluff with a fork.
Ashley Blom is a New Englander and haphazard foodie living in Austin, Texas. Her book, “How to Eat a Lobster” is coming from Quirk Books in 2017, and you can find her recipes and ramblings at forkingup.com.