So, I pretty much don't eat eggs, because I don't feel so well after I eat them, and because I suspect my nursing daughter gets diaper rashes when I eat eggs. But even though I don't eat eggs, my husband and sons eat eggs, often as a quick supper when I don't have anything ready by the time supper time comes around. Eggs used to be known as a cheap protein, but lately the prices have gone up and up and up. I used to pay 21 cents an egg, and even then they weren't so cheap and I tried to use them sparingly. But lately, they've gone up to 29 cents an egg, and when you use a bunch at a time, like when you make egg based dishes, the cost adds up quickly. But I didn't realize just how much money could be saved by going egg free, or at least minimizing the amounts of eggs you use, until today.
In addition to this blog, and the wild edible plant walks I teach, I have a small side business of making and selling gluten free flours and other foods, such as gluten free fresh pasta. While I usually make my pasta vegan, today I was filling an order for a woman, and I used eggs for it. In the pasta recipe, I ended up using 8 eggs. At 29 cents an egg, I spent $2.32 on eggs alone for the pasta- which definitely cuts into the profit I make!
I was thinking to myself- how much cheaper would this pasta be to make if I used flax seeds, my typical egg replacement?
Instead of the 8 eggs in the recipe, had I used ground flax seeds, I would have needed half a cup of ground flax seeds.
I spend about $1.22 per pound of whole flax seed, which I grind myself in my coffee grinder. Half a cup of ground flax seeds weighs 58 grams, which would bring its total price to 16 cents for all the flax seed needed in the recipe.
16 cents vs $2.32. Hmmm. Big difference. A $2.16 price difference! That's huge!
Ok, I did use a lot of eggs for this recipe. What would the price difference be if I were only using one egg?
Well, there are 8 tablespoons in half a cup, and you need only 1 tablespoon of flax seeds to replace each egg. 1 "flax egg", is 7 grams, and at the price I pay, comes out to be 1.9 cents.
1.9 cents vs 29 cents. Wow.
From a frugal perspective, I hope you can see the value in cutting out eggs, or at least using flax seeds as an egg replacement when it would be reasonable to do so. (You can't use flax seeds to make an angel food cake or in custards- just as a binder.)
So, how do you actually use flax seeds as an egg replacement?
The recipe is simple.
1 tablespoon of ground flax seed is mixed with 2 1/2 tablespoons of water.
If you're using something in which you need a nice workable dough, like pasta, use 1 tablespoon ground flax seeds and 2 1/2 tablespoons of boiling water, mix them together well, and let them sit for 10 minutes.
If you're just using it in cakes or cookies or any other recipe in which the texture of the dough isn't as important, you can just dump it all into the recipe, no need to use boiling water, and no need to let it sit for 10 minutes first.
Ways in which you can use flax eggs are cake, cookies, pasta doughs, as a binder for burgers or dumplings or pancakes, etc.
Any recipe that is largely egg based, or involves whipping eggs or separating eggs, or in which the eggs are added for flavor, like custard, or crepes or angel food cake, can't be substituted with flax eggs.
Now there are replacements for eggs even in egg based things- things like chickpea flour, which you can use to make incredible quiches.
Is it worthwhile financially to use chickpea flour to replace eggs in quiches if you have no need to be egg free for health reasons?
Lets compare the two recipes.
Other than fillers, the base of the vegan quiche is
2 1/2 cups chickpea flour
3 cups water
On the other hand, the egg based quiche is
1 1/2 cups milk or non dairy milk
1/4 cup flour
2 1/2 cups of chickpea flour weighs 280 grams.
I grind my own chickpea flour with chickpeas I buy for $1.10 per pound. Total cost for me- 31 cents. The regular chickpea flour that they sell in the store here costs $2.45 per pound, making the total cost for the standard consumer 68 cents.
Now what about the egg recipe?
4 eggs costs $1.16. And then you have the cost of 1 1/2 cups of milk or non dairy milk and 1/4 cup of flour on top of that.
Even discounting the price of the milk and the flour, its 31 or 68 cents for the vegan quiche
versus the $1.16 for the egg based quiche. Substantial price difference, no?
Yes, everyone's exact pricing will be different, because the price of flax or chickpeas or chickpea flour or eggs will vary from place to place, but even so, in most places, using egg replacements in recipes ends up being far cheaper than using eggs.
To figure out the exact price difference, calculate how much you pay per egg and compare that to the price per tablespoon of flax seeds, keeping in mind that each tablespoon weighs 7 grams, or .009 ounces. Alternatively, compare the price of .625 cups or 175 grams of chickpea flour to the price of one eggs.
Yes, nutritionally ground flax seeds and chickpea flour have different nutritional makeup from eggs. But each are nutritional in their own right. But when it comes to frugality, egg replacements beat eggs, hands down.
So, did I convince you yet? Do you use egg replacements in recipes already? Would you be willing to try some out if you don't already? How much do you pay per egg where you live, and per pound of flax seeds or per pound of chickpea flour?