I am spoiled. Fergus is in charge of cooking, and for good reason: his food is delicious (plus he enjoys cooking). Some mornings I literally wake up to the offer of breakfast in bed.
Yet as I write this Fergus, is away on a business trip. And I can’t cook. And I hate cleaning the kitchen. What’s a frugally minded, culinarily-impaired engineer to do? Since we only go to restaurants rarely (and they have to be special, not just a convenience purchase), eating out is not an option. That would be weak.
Enter: the microwave
Whenever Fergus is away, I inevitably cook eggs in the microwave. It is fast, has very little cleanup, tastes fine, and is perfect on an English muffin. This time, I wanted to up the ante. I was going to make something delicious, yet easy, just to prove I could. In addition, I wanted to give an accurate account of effort and time needed. Far too often, recipes online say something like “prep: 10 minutes, cook time: 5 minutes,” when in reality it takes people like me at least half an hour. Like, just stop lying, people.
Of course, it’s hard to get an accurate time when taking pictures throughout. So, just for you, gentle readers, because I would hate to lie to you, I will be making myself TWO gourmet breakfast sandwiches. The struggle is real. In fact, I had to make two more once Fergus was back from his business trip, as my camera skills are sorely lacking. So many trials. So many tribulations.
- One English muffin
- One egg
- One slice of tomato
- 1/3 of one ripe avocado
- Sharp cheddar cheese slice(s)
- One squeeze of Mayonnaise
- Microwave Toaster or toaster oven
- Microwave-safe ramekin or similar
- Cutting board
Place an English muffin in the toaster. Toasting the muffin takes the longest of all the steps, so just continue on to step two while you wait.
Step Two (Optional)
Personify your eggs. You really want to get to know your eggs before taking the next step. Now, I tried out a few different types of markers for this, and the thin, black whiteboard marker had the strongest impression on the egg (not pictured – too blurry. This is what happens when Fergus the cameraman is absent without leave). The red sharpie seemed to go on strong at first, but the sight bit of moisture on the egg made the line bleed.
The smudge test had very interesting results. The green disc marker was the clear winner with no smudging, and the sharpie also fared well (shown above).
My recommendation is to either use a good disc marker, or to really dry off the eggs first and then use a sharpie. If you don’t care about the smudge factor, a fine tipped whiteboard marker will do wonders.
I had a lot of fun channeling my inner You Suck At Cooking persona with this step.
Crack your victim into the ramekin. We bought four small ramekins years ago at a local store (China Fair for anyone near Cambridge, MA – they have great prices for knife sharpening as well, though we’ve yet to try out that service), and we use them all the time. Sure, they make fine containers for crème brûlée if you’re trying to be fancy, and for microwaved eggs if you’re not, but they’re also great mise en place bowls for pre-measuring ingredients, etc.
You could oil it first, but, eh, not needed. At this point you will also want to add a little water and a pinch of salt. The water makes the egg fluffier.
Now place the deceased into the microwave on high for thirty seconds. After thirty seconds, swish the half-cooked solution and place it in the microwave for another twenty seconds. While the egg is cooking, you can prepare the other ingredients in step four.
Slice the tomato and cheese, and prepare the avocado. Make sure to use a sharp knife and practice proper knife safety. A great low-budget chef’s knife is the Victorinox Fibrox. We personally have this knife (shown up above), and it comes highly recommended by America’s Test Kitchen as the winner for knives under $50. The price on this one varies quite a bit (from under $30 to $45), so we recommend setting a price alert through Camel Camel Camel if interested but not needed in the near future.
For the avocado, you first slice length-wise, then twist and separate. To remove the seed, many people will say you go “hi-yah” and stick your knife in it. Those people are also liars. This is what happens when I try that “trick”:
And of course when I try to demonstrate to Fergus how the trick never works for me – for the first time ever I do it perfectly. If your ability to cook is also inextricably tied to the proximity of Fergus, just use a spoon for the seed.
By now the muffin will likely be close to done, and the egg fully cooked. To get the egg to come out smoothly, let it know that you will love it no matter what. Also just jiggle the container until the sides are free, and maybe help it out by sliding a fork along the sides.
Assemble the sandwich! Here’s my preferred order: Muffin bottom, little mayo, egg, tomato, little mayo, cheese, avocado, muffin top.
It’s easiest to just mush the avocado into one of the muffin sides, as opposed to balancing avocado pieces in the sandwich itself.
Be Lazy, Eat In
And done! Sandwich number two took me exactly 5:54, including getting the materials out, preparing then, cooking, and putting leftovers away. A couple key ingredients were on sale that week, mainly eggs and avocados. The rest of the ingredients are reliably priced at that level in store brand items.
|Ingredient||Price||Cost Per Sandwich|
|English muffin||$0.89 for 6||$0.15|
|Egg||$0.69 for 12||$0.06|
|Cheese||$2 for 226 grams||$0.15|
Meanwhile, Fergus did some investigative work while on his business trip. Since work reimburses him for meals out, he walked over to the nearest McDonald’s and ordered an Egg McMuffin.
He also timed them! From entering the door to obtaining his sandwich? Also just under six minutes. This doesn’t even include the amount of time needed to reach a McDonald’s in the first place. Plus, he had to wear pants, whereas I did not. I think it’s pretty obvious who had the better sandwich and better experience.
I love it when the lazy option is also the frugal option. What are your go-to meals that are both frugal and time saving?