Tastier and Cheaper Than Storebought: Mayonnaise

Mayonnaise: It’s the base for “Special Sauce,” found in countless seafood salads and deviled eggs, and it’s the creamy, heavenly stuff that gives tuna sandwiches their mystique.

Egg, oil and a fresh lemon. That's all you need.  Image by "Seeman" courtesy of Morguefile.com

Egg, oil and a fresh lemon. That’s all you need. Image by “Seeman” courtesy of Morguefile.com

 

What if I told you that you could not only make mayonnaise with only three ingredients, and it would take less than fifteen minutes? You don’t even have to be a good cook. In fact, you could be the World’s Worst Cook, and you could still pull off this killer condiment.

Here’s what you need:

  • One egg, large or medium-sized at room temperature (more on the importance of this, later.)
  • The juice of half a lemon, or a tablespoon of cider vinegar
  • A cup of canola or vegetable oil
  • Salt, to taste (I start with 1/4 teaspoon)

All you need is either a blender or a food processor with the sharp, metallic blade, the one that looks like a ninja throwing star.

  1. Make sure your egg is at room temperature. A cold egg will not whip up into a creamy texture as quickly.  You can cheat this process by putting your egg into a bowl full of hot – not boiling – tap water, shell and all.  Keep the egg warming in its bowl while you assemble all the other ingredients, or put your food processor/blender together.
  2. Juice the half lemon and pour it into the blender bowl. If you don’t have a lemon, use a tablespoon of cider vinegar. White vinegar is a bit harsh, and balsamic doesn’t quite have the same acidity or “bite” that we’re looking for.
  3. Crack the egg and pour that into the bowl.
  4. Add 1/4 teaspoon of salt over this.
  5. Turn on your blender, and whizz the whole thing around until it turns a light, frothy pale yellow. Keep the motor on as we go to step six:
  6. Gently, slowwwwwwwly pour in the oil; If you pour it all in too quickly at first it will curdle.  Just pour a thin filament from your measuring cup into the oil dispenser on your blender or processor. drizzle
  7. keep steadily pouring it into the blender as it’s running – you’ll hear the mixture start to thicken as you pour: The mayonnaise will start out runny and steadily go from a gurgle to thick, slurpy sound.
  8. When you’re out of oil, turn off the machine, and spoon the mix into a clean mason jar.  This stuff will last about a week in the fridge.

Cost: Currently, a 1.5L jar of Kraft’s Miracle Whip is on sale for $5.99.   I used a 4L container of oil that cost $3.98, using only 1 cup of oil, which cost 25 cents.  I used a tablespoon of cider vinegar, which I’m going to say cost roughly 0.10 cents at a tablespoon (I bought a 1L jug) and salt which I won’t evne try to calculate.

A whole jar of homemade mayo, rounded up is less than 40 cents.

Salad Days (How to Make Coleslaw for 25 cents a serving)

It’s hot.  The idea of turning on the oven when you just escaped from baked sidewalks and marinated in your own juices in the streets really has no appeal.

Don't lose your head: cool supper and lunch options are ahead!

Don’t lose your head: cool supper and lunch options are ahead!

Solution? Salad. Yeah, opening that box of pre-washed lettuce or spinach is all you’ve got energy for…but you want more.  Some protein, something with crunch, something sexy.

Personally, I can’t get worked up over lettuce. I see those leaves as just a vehicle for dressing; a supporting role for the main act of protein whether it’s fish, chopped up leftovers or something like beans and nuts.

Good news for us with frugal but fine palettes! You don’t have to use lettuce.  As I write this post, it’s early September, and kale, spinach and cabbage are coming in to season. This means your discount bins at the grocery or farmer’s market stall are stocked with really affordable and healthy greens.

Shred that cabbage and make yourself some coleslaw. Grab that box grater if you don’t have a food processor, and you’ll have a heaping pile of DIY coleslaw any way you want it.

boxgrater

If you like it creamy, make your own mayonnaise and add it to the mix with some grated onion. If you’re trying to stay away from high-fat dressing, just add some lemon juice and a bit of olive oil to keep it from drying out, and there’s your no-effort coleslaw.

Spices: Add some caraway seeds, chili, try some zatar for a bit of an exotic kick.

Protein: Open that can of tuna. It deserves so much more than a tuna casserole. If you have any other fish on hand, go for it.

Fruits and Nuts: Have an awkward amount of raisins or granola hiding in the back of your pantry shelves? Toss that last teaspoon of cereal into your salad. Peanuts, sunflower seeds and almonds are terrific, too.

Spoon serving sized portions of plain chopped salad or ‘slaw into single serving sized containers. Just before you head out, add your dressing, some fish, some nuts and you’re good to go: Salad on the run.

Cost: A head of cabbage is currently available from 99 cents a head to $1.27.  Broken down to five servings, that comes to a 25 cent portion serving (without the toppings.)  Try buying a single serving of coleslaw for less than $3 – this DIY version is fresher, tastier, and way more affordable.