One of Our Favorite Budget Meals ~ Fried Eggs & Mashed Potatoes

When I was a child growing up, my mother insisted that all four of the children in our family either help cook the meals or do the dishes, so I gained a lot of experience in and around the kitchen from my earliest days – not to mention my love for eating!  Even as a small child I could eat as much as most anyone, leading my grandmother to ask me if I had a hollow leg as I tackled a turkey drumstick and a mountain of mashed potatoes and gravy at Thanksgiving! 🙂

I started working as an ice-cream server at Baskin-Robbins for $1.00 an hour the day I turned 16, and then a year later I worked as a dishwasher and informally as a Chef’s Assistant at Atlas Valley Country Club in Grand Blanc, MI.  I started out washing the dishes for banquets and events serving hundreds of guests, along with the pots and pans required to prepare such large meals, which was a particularly tough and hot job in the back of the kitchen.  Eventually I was asked to assist Sammy, our excellent and funny African-American Chef, in preparing salads, side dishes and whatever he asked me to do. So I’m highly qualified in peeling and mashing potatoes, dish washing, cleaning-up, taste appreciation and now food blogging! 🙂

Budget meals are an important part of meal planning, because they not only help you stretch a dollar, they can also create leftovers that are then available for other meals.  For this meal we purchased a bag of Russet potatoes for $1.29, which resulted in enough mashed potatoes for 10 generous servings over three days – or 12.9 cents a portion for the potatoes – not counting the eggs, milk, butter, chopped parsley, chives and/or green onions used to create the meal. Overall, the total cost of this meal is about $1.00 per person.  In addition to being low-cost, fried eggs and mashed potatoes are warm, flavorful, comfort foods, as I can attest to having enjoyed them!

For this meal I peeled the entire bag of potatoes, and my technique is to put a fine strainer into the sink’s drain to prevent any potato peels from going down the drain, while rinsing and peeling the potatoes towards a corner of the sink for easy cleanup and removal of the peels afterwards for the garbage can.  We don’t use a garbage disposal, and the peels would also be perfect for your compost heap if you compost your food scraps.  The peeled potatoes are cubed into about 3/4 inch cubes, and immediately added to a large pot filled with about four inches of cold water.  Peeled potatoes will start to discolor if exposed to air for more than a few minutes without immersing them in water.

The potatoes are then brought to a boil for a period of time until the pieces begin to easily fall apart when probed with a fork. Immediately remove the pot from the burner and strain the potatoes. Add a quarter stick of butter to the bottom of the drained pot that you boiled the cubed potatoes in, and immediately add the strained cubed potatoes back into the pot, along with enough warm milk to begin mashing the potatoes with a masher or hand mixer until the potatoes reach the desired consistency.  Salt and pepper, and add a little nutmeg to taste while mashing, and sprinkle in some chopped parsley for color.  You can also add in some fried bacon bits to the mashed potatoes for flavor.  Warmed-up mashed potatoes in a frying pan is an excellent way to serve a side of mashed potatoes for any of your favorite follow-on meals.

For this meal, my wife adds a generous pat of butter to a frying pan over medium heat, and then adds a portion of the mashed potatoes into the pan, turning frequently to gently brown the surface area of the potatoes.  Once the mashed potatoes have achieved the desired color and appearance, she moves them to the side of the frying pan and fries the eggs alongside them, immediately serving them together on plates with a sprinkling of chopped chives or green onions.  My wife likes her fried egg served on top of the mashed potatoes, while I like my eggs on the side ~ enjoy!

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