Eggs provide cheap, nutritious protein, and weigh in at less than 90 calories per egg. Enjoyed by carnivores and vegetarians; they’re the beginning of life and the end of hunger. The number of folds on a chef’s toque are said to represent the number of ways he can prepare an egg.

Still, eggs have a tendency to languish in the refrigerator. In fact, I have a friend whose eggs got so old, they evaporated through their shells. Don’t let that happen to your eggs; follow these ideas for putting that perky protein to use.

1. The Poached Egg. Though many find these a challenge to prepare; I disagree. For a perfect poach, add a tablespoon of vinegar to some gently simmering water, and slowly add your egg. After three minutes, when the whites are opaque and the yellows runny, remove with a slotted spoon. Perch your poached egg on top of a salad, and let that yolk drizzles down and become part of the dressing. Or, place it on a piece of toast or some crispy corned beef hash. There’s no better sauce to contrast crispy hash or toast than ooey-gooey egg yolk. If you don’t trust your poaching skills; visit  and buy a set of 2 poach pods for $10. My mom swears by them.

2. The Hard-Boiled Egg. Since the Atkins craze, vendors including the greasy coffee shop and the crunchy food co-op are selling hard boiled eggs. At 75 cents per egg, or more, it’s no wonder; a dozen will fetch at least $9.00! If you can buy a dozen organic eggs for $1.99 and cook them on your own, you can save seven bucks.

For perfect hard boiled eggs: Cover eggs with water and bring to a simmer. Cover pot, remove from heat and let sit 10 minutes. Remove eggs from hot water, and cool in ice water. Quick cooling avoids yolk discoloration (that horrible green ring).

3. Old-School Egg Salad. Both egg and tuna salads were embarrassing high school lunches. They were fragrant, and reeked of lean times. Well, I’m all grown up, and darned if I don’t crave the occasional egg salad. On a cracker, or in a sandwich, I now have the maturity to appreciate its simple elegance. When perfect hard-boiled eggs combine with mayo, mustard (dry or Dijon), celery, a few chopped cornichon, parsley, and generous seasoning, well it’s just a little bit of heaven (and cheaper than a can of Bumble Bee).

4. Deviled Eggs. Everyone loves a deviled egg, but no one seems to make them anymore.  After making a perfect hard boiled egg, split the eggs in half lengthwise. Remove the yolks, and press through a sieve. Toss with a good amount of mayo, mustard and salt, and dollop the filling back into the egg whites. Dust with a bit of paprika and take a bow. You can make a dozen deviled eggs for $3.00, which is a lot less than the $5.99 you could have spent on store-bought chips and salsa.

5. Pasta Carbonara. This classic Italian pasta sauce gets its magic from the thickening power of egg yolks. To prepare, crisp some bacon, pour out the excess bacon grease, and (over low heat) add a few egg yolks, milk, pasta, and grated Parmesan. Heat through just until the sauce thickens (remember, you don’t want to scramble those eggs). Though it might not help you lose weight, it will help you with debt; Carbonara for four will run you less than $5.

6. Meringues. The original fat-free cookie (that’s right, Snackwells (Stock Quote: KFT) is easy to make. All you need egg whites, 1/4 cup sugar per egg white and a pinch of cream of tartar. Beat until you have medium peaks, dollop on a baking sheet and cook at 300 F for 2 hours. No fat, no fuss, and no excuse to do without dessert.

It’s a recession, people, we’ve making enough concessions. 24 cookies for $2 is an indulgence well worth the expense.