Eggs are so affordable and versatile that it's a wonder more people don't eat them after breakfast: There are so many ways to cook them that you could easily down a dozen without growing tired of the flavor. Whether they're your meal's main event or an ingredient you use to turn tired leftovers into a tasty meal, eggs can help fill you up and fuel your body any time of day.
Of course the best meals begin with the best eggs: Fresh eggs, which you can often find at farmers markets, are hard to beat. When buying eggs at your grocery store, look for the latest sell by date and don't get caught up on shell color, which has little to do with an egg's quality. And then there's egg size: The right pick depends on your use case—particularly when baking. If a recipe calls for “large” eggs, buy and use those. After all, an extra-large egg is 10 percent bigger than a large egg and a jumbo egg is 25 percent bigger. Up-sizing can affect the quality of your batter and doesn't necessarily lead to a better baked good. That said: Jumbo eggs are perfect for a big batch of scrambled eggs or omelet, particularly when serving a crowd since larger eggs mean fewer shells to crack.
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Once you bring your eggs home, it's best to chill them in the refrigerator lest they "perspire" from the change in temperature, which can weaken the shells or provoke mold growth. Most refrigerated eggs will stay good for at least three weeks after purchase.
To make the most of the ingredient that belongs in every creative cook's healthy eating arsenal, try these unconventional ideas:
1. Top your salad with a fried egg.
Lightly coat a nonstick skillet with nonstick spray and set it over medium heat for 1 minute. Crack an egg into a small bowl, then slip it into the skillet (to preserve the yolk and make sure no shell bits end up in the egg). Cook until the whites are set, about 3 minutes for crispy edges on the white and a runny yolk. Flip the eggs for a more set yolk. Sprinkle a little vinegar over each egg before serving with salt and ground black pepper on the side.
2. Bulk up leftover broth, stew, or chili with a poached egg.
Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil over high heat. Crack an egg into a small bowl. Turn the heat down until the water barely simmers. Slip the egg into the water, cover, and cook at the barest bubble for 3 minutes for a set white but a runny yolk, or 4 minutes for a more set yolk. Scoop each egg up with a slotted spoon, dabbing the bottom of the spoon on paper towels to get rid of excess moisture before transferring the egg to a bowl on its own or into a soup or stew.
3. Add a hard-boiled egg to tuna or chicken salad.
Place an egg or several in a large pot of cold water. Bring the water to a full boil over high heat. Boil for 1 minute. Then cover the pot, remove it from the heat, and set aside for 7 minutes. Run the eggs under cool water just until you can peel them. The eggs will be fully cooked but the yolks will not be dry and crumbly.
For proof eggs work as well in the afternoon and evening as they do during the first meal of the day, try these recipes at lunch or dinner: