The Plastic Bag Omelet – Day 78: Eating Well On $1 A Day


I wish that cooking could always be this much fun as I had today (see below to the plastic bag omelet). It was a good reprieve from looking at cooking as a chore and I think it has helped me defeat the cooking rebellion (at least for the time being).

I had run out of fruit so I kept my eyes open while taking my morning walk with Lila (photo of my current companion)

Lila

and found some plum trees along a back fence at a school where we walk. I took 4 that looked ripe:

plums

Plum Smoothie

I used two of the plums I had gathered on the morning walk to make a plum smoothie that turned out wonderful (2 plums, frozen banana, small amount of blueberry pomegranate juice, ice) with them being much lass sour than the previous plums I picked. I will have to get some more if possible:

plum smoothie

Chicken Veggie Rice (leftovers)

I'm starting to try and cook more than I need the night before so I have extras to eat (and so I don't have to worry about cooking so much). The chicken veggie rice (from last night's supper) made for a wonderful mid-afternoon meal:

veggie chicken rice leftovers

Roasted Vegetables

The last of the 20 lbs of potatoes I purchased were on there very last legs. In fact, a few of them had gone bad and had to be thrown out. I decided I needed to cook the rest of them up so that no more of them went to waste. I decided to go ahead and roast them as I had done a couple of times before. With the potatoes, I added half an onion (all I had left), half a green bell pepper and a bunch of baby carrots, smothered them in Italian dressing with salt and pepper added as well:

roasted veggies precook

I'm getting better at letting them cook — I let them brown a bit more this time although I probably could have let them go even a little longer (I have this fear that I am going to burn them like the beans and lose all the food).

roasted veggies

Plastic Bag Cheese Omelet

As soon as I saw this comment by Julie on my post about how I can't flip an omelet, I knew that I was going to have to give it a try:

Boil a pot of water. Put two eggs in a Ziploc freezer bag (not the kind with a zipper on top, but the kind that you have to put the two sides together and press them to seal the bag). Squish the eggs until they look sort of mixed. Add whatever other ingredients you want — cheese, spinach, ham, chopped bacon, whatever. Seal the bag almost all the way and get as much air out of it as you can, then seal it all the way. Carefully place the bag in the boiling water and boil for exactly 13 minutes. No more, no less. Open the top of the bag and the omelet will roll out onto your plate perfectly cooked and more or less omelet shaped. (I picked this up on the Internets several years ago and use it several times a month.)

Now this is my type of cooking! I must admit that when I first saw the comment, I was a little apprehensive. I wasn't sure if Julie was trying to play a joke on me due to knowing I have no cooking knowledge and she wanted to see an even more spectacular omelet disaster (warning signs always go up when someone ends the explanation with “I picked this up on the Internets…”), but it also called to me in a way no regular recipe ever could. I had to see if it really worked.

I took out a plastic bag as described and fixed it up so that it would be easy to put the ingredients inside:

plastic bag omelet set up

First went in two eggs:

plastic bag omelet eggs

Once they were in, it was time to mash them up with my hands (yes, the kid in me was definitely coming out). Once smashed, I added some, salt, pepper, cheese, tomatoes and a bit of celery:

plastic bag omelet mixed

The it was time to get as much air out of the bag as possible:

plastic bag ingredients

With the omelet now ready to be cooked, I placed it into the boiling water:

plastic bag omelet boiling water

And waited for 13 minutes as it cooked:

plastic bag omelet cooking

Much to my surprise (and thorough enjoyment), it came out pretty damn well (and tasted great). I then added a side of the roasted veggies I had made:

plastic bag omelet roasted veggies

plastic bag omelet with roasted veggies

Unfortunately, as fun as this was and as much as it appeals to my idea of how cooking should be done, I won't be making this in the future. A quick search found that there are a lot of warnings not to make plastic bag omelets because these bags are not approved to boil food. The issue is that the bags are made from polyethylene plastic which has a softening point of approximately 195 degrees Fahrenheit and water begins to boil at 212 degrees. This provides a chance that the plastic could begin to melt and contaminate the omelet with the known carcinogens present in the plastic bags. Bummer…why do the things that are always the most fun have to be bad for you? (A big “Thank You” to Julie for letting me play in the kitchen instead of cook and still come out with a meal in the end)

This is the current list of food I still have
This is the current list of what I have purchased:

Goal: 100 days eating on $1 a day
Current Money Spent: $49.15
Money Left to Spend: $50.85 ($5.83 must be spent at CVS, $1.50 must be spent at Safeway)
Retail Value of Everything Purchased: $1370.97

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The Beginning ::: It's Hard Giving Money Back To A Store – CVS Step By Step MoneyMaker

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21 Responses to The Plastic Bag Omelet – Day 78: Eating Well On $1 A Day

  1. Denise says:

    Jeffery I did a little research and there is a company that makes bags especially for cooking that are FDA approved. The link is :
    http://www.packitgourmet.com/CookIn-Bags-p324.html#
    The bags are cheap but the shipping is a little pricey if you are only buying a bag or two. I do believe that the bags are reusable.

  2. Denise says:

    My bad please disregard my last post, the bags are not meant to boil in water.Here is a quote from their web site:
    WARNING: Do not submerge bag in boiling water. Bags are approved for pouring boiling water into the bag, over food but not for submerging the bag in boiling water.

  3. Lisa Duncan says:

    I do something similar with my eggs. I mix up the eggs and whatever vegetables I want in a plastic bowl and microwave it for 2-3 minutes. It’s an omelete in a bowl. Easy to make, easy to clean up. You still have the issue with possible leaching of various chemicals from the plastic but I figure I heat up food in those bowls all the time anyway. Of course, you could also do the same thing with a glass bowl.

  4. jeffrey says:

    @Denise

    You had me all excited there for a minute 🙁

  5. Liz says:

    You could try something like this:

    http://familyfun.go.com/recipes/make-a-meal-in-a-jar-898618/

    Same principal as ziplocs, but the jars would also be reuseable..I’d imagine you could use any type of glass jar.

  6. Cheryl says:

    There are lots of sites out there for microwave recipes if that is easier for you.

    http://www.microwaverecipe.net/
    http://www.microwavecookingforone.com/
    http://www.askmen.com/sports/foodcourt/41b_eating_well.html

    The askmen.com even has your beloved PB & Banana Sandwich in it!

  7. Colleen says:

    You should not put any plastic into the microwave, you can do the smal1 thing in a glass bowl, I do it at work all the time you can even out a little cooking spray or cooking oil in the bowl 1st. good luck and happy cooking.

  8. Dilip andrade says:

    Cooking in a bag in water is a technique from a cooking method referred to as sous-vide. The key is to extract air from a vmbag, and do long time low temp cooking. Typically, you use specialized equipment to ensure the temperatures don’t get too high, though some people have been using ziplock bags, boiling water and ice in picnic coolers.

    It’s delicious and easy if you want to do all the leg work. Personally, I’m happier using a stove.

  9. Julie says:

    That is so cool that you tried my recipe, Jeffrey! Although I’d much rather be famous for other things than recommending people kill themselves by cooking with Ziploc bags.

    The recipe came from someone who suggested that it was a cool way to cook for parties. Everybody makes their own and throws it in the pot. I can’t attribute it to anyone because I cut off the part where the web address was when I put it in my handy-dandy three-ring recipe notebook. I didn’t research the good/bad of plastic bags before I tried it, and I’ve been using the recipe for about five years now, after many failed omelets.

    If you don’t trust the bags (for whatever reason), don’t use them. The recipe was simply meant as an easy way to make omelets.

    I’m glad it turned out for you, Jeffrey. Thanks for being game to try it!

  10. Lostinbrave says:

    Seems like you need a lot of help for omelets.

    look up the good eats episode The Egg Files VI – French Flop. I found it on youtube.

  11. Ted says:

    There is a style of cooking that involves cooking meat in vacuum sealed plastic bags in a pressure cooker but I can’t remember what it is called.

    But related to the omelet, I remember in Boy Scouts making eggs in a paper bag once where you put stuff in the plastic bag, set it on coals, and then the bag burns away leaving only the moist parts of the bag with egg on top. We also made foil packs a lot, worked really well.

  12. asu says:

    The bag is really a funny experiment, but it is much simpler to grease the pan with some oil instead of wasting plastic bags and water! 😀

  13. pannonica says:

    Ted, I believe the cooking method you’re referring to is sous vide, which requires vacuum-sealed bags but not a pressure cooker.

    A quick internet search will return any number of sites and descriptions. It involves a submerging the food in water that’s kept a constant, low temperature, which allows it to (a) not be overcooked and (b) prolong the “ready” time. A special electric cooker is available, but it’s hundreds of dollars. A clever and inexpensive alternative is to use an insulated cooler, which I read about a few months ago. Unfortunately this solution works better for cooking meat (low temperature) rather than vegetables (high temperature).

  14. Jill B says:

    Drat, that DID look fun until you went and got reasonable on us. Thanks, though. For both.

  15. jeffrey says:

    @Jill B,

    ha – yes that whole “reasonable” thing is pretty ironic coming from someone eating on $1 a day 😉

  16. Lucy says:

    I should point out that a variant on this has been done for ages. We call them “coddled eggs” and there is a (non-plastic-bag) utensil for making them. It’s a little screw-top porcelain container that one cracks the egg into, then adds whatever one was going to add. The lid has a little loop on top, so that you can fish it out of the pot of boiling water. Egg Coddlers are harder to find these days (and probably tougher to find in the States than up here in Canada) since they’re currently out of fashion. I have three, including one big enough for two eggs at once (with stuff.)

    Note: people online seem to think that one can only cook one’s eggs lightly in one of these. Bullcrap. We hard-cook ours. Let the water boil. It works.

  17. Kelsey says:

    A daily e-newsletter I subscribe to (and cookbook I own), Hungry Girl, has several recipes for Egg Mugs, similar to those suggesting to cook them in a glass bowl in the microwave. http://hungry-girl.com/hgsearch.php?keyword=egg%20mug

    Just make sure to spray the mug with cooking spray (or wipe it down with olive oil/butter) before you cook it, or it’s a pain to clean. I also tend to cook it for 10 or so seconds less than recommended so it isn’t too dry. Lots of great ideas for leftover cut veggies and whatever you have on hand.

  18. Kelli M says:

    Rather than trying to make an omelet, why not make a scramble? Saute the veggies, add eggs in the skillet, scramble, and then add the cheese on the top to melt while it finishes cooking.

  19. Pingback: Eating Well On $1 A Day - Grocery Coupon Guide

  20. James says:

    I did a little more looking on that same website and found the correct bags. These ones are approved for submersion in boiling water!
    http://www.packitgourmet.com/Boilable-Bags-p479.html

  21. So wish I had read this months ago. You can toally make an omelet (ala the Egg Mc Muffin) in the microwave. Do the same thing in a small microwave safe bowl. Eggs, mix with a fork and add in any seasons and extras if you feel like it. Pop that puppy in the microwave for a minute or so until it is cooked in the center.

    I also suggest, now that you are not doing this experiemnt, that you buy a crockpot. For someone who likes food but is not a big fan of cooking it, the crockpot will be your new kitchen bff. She will forever feed you healthy meals with nearly no effort on your end.

    Enjoy!
    KK
    http://preppypinkcrocodile.blogspot.com