Like all True Intellectuals, I have a healthy appreciation for all things potato. Potato is life. I love them in crisps, in twists, baked, mashed, swirled and especially in fry form.
But living a life filled with potato goods can be expensive, with the smallest batch of fries retailing at PHP30. Who has the money for that? No one!
To get your potato fix, try making easy baked potatoes!
Introduction: Easy Baked Potatoes
When I was in college, my poor self struggled to find nutritious and sustainable sources of food. That’s when I discovered that (a) potatoes offer vitamin B6 and C, iron and potassium –it’s technically a vegetable— and (b) unprocessed potatoes can cost only PHP10 a piece. I was sold.
The question was: how do I turn a raw potato into its delicious, healthy form? Back in our college dorm, we had a toaster oven, a microwave, and a stove. Reasonably, I chose…
The microwave. Our toaster oven hadn’t been washed in five hundred years and we didn’t even have gas for the stove. It wasn’t really a choice.
LAZY KITCHEN PICK: Baked potatoes, without the baking!
This easy baked potatoes recipe follows the dozens of online articles on the art of cooking with a microwave. Don’t look at me like that. It’s a valid life choice.
Ingredients: Easy Baked Potatoes
The beauty of potatoes is that you can pair it up with literally anything. I have seen potatoes consumed alongside ketchup, hot sauce, sugar, milk, chocolate… Name it and it’s probably been done.
But for this recipe I went down to the basics. If by basics, you mean the most unhealthy pairing for potatoes.
- 3 small potatoes (450g total; you can also use 1 large potato, but these were the only ones available in the market when I went out for them)
- 4 strips BACON (20g), pan-fried to crispy goodness and cut into crumb size
- 1/2 cup CHEESE, grated
This list is good for 1 potato-loving person, or 2 regular persons, or 3 people who you plan to starve. I served for the latter, and we all suffered for it. For the rest of this post, let’s pretend we’re serving 2 persons.
I wrote BACON and CHEESE in capital letters because there should be no limits. I shouldn’t even put any measurements beside them.
You could also buy pre-made bacon crumbles –but why pay for that extra price when you can rely on your own cutting skills?
Recipe: Easy Baked Potatoes
When I say easy, I mean easy.
Prep time: In theory, 10 minutes. 15 minutes tops. But I timed it and my lazy self took 30 minutes. Help. It’s the bacon-frying and the cheese-grating that made my life difficult.
- Wash your potatoes. No cook, no matter how lazy, wants to be responsible for the illness of others.
- Poke holes all over the potatoes using the tines of a fork. Around 4-5 pokes per side would do. The bigger the potato, the more pokes needed. If you forget this part, the baked potato will turn out to be an exploded potato.
- Cook the potatoes in the microwave for 5 minutes. Turn it over, then continue to cook it for another 5 minutes. Most recipes I’ve seen says “full power”, but apparently our microwave is super powerful because our potatoes cooked in less than that time. In short: the timing depends on the power of your microwave and the size of the potatoes.
- Cut a wedge from one side of the potato. It’s for the aesthetic. Mash the inside of the potato with a fork. Don’t go too crazy or there’ll be nothing left of the whole baked potato.
- Fill the empty space with your toppings. I put in cheese and bacon crumbles. Common sense says you can put anything you want, including salt and pepper for the potato itself.
- Drown the potato with the leftover toppings.
- Plug in the “baked” potatoes with toppings back into the microwave for 20-30 seconds more if you want to melt the cheese.
I always say that the Lazy Kitchen style of cooking is to eyeball and guesstimate the whole time. Yay.
To tell if a potato has cooked, grasp it and lightly squeeze. If there’s a give (like the potato… body… is ready to burst out of the skin), then it’s cooked. Obviously, don’t touch a hot potato with your bare hands. Thank you.
Calorie Watch: Easy Baked Potatoes
Ah, potatoes. Healthy in theory, but who knows what happens to it after a turn in the microwave.
- 3 small potatoes = 350 calories
- 4 strips BACON = 110 calories
- 1/2 cup CHEESE = 110 calories
PARTY SERVING (for 2 persons) TOTAL = 570 calories
SINGLE SERVING TOTAL = 285 calories
Honestly these calorie counts might not be what you’ll get because small potatoes come in frustratingly different sizes (I didn’t actually weigh anything; I only guesstimated, sorry) and it depends on what type of cheese you use. So it might even be more, or less.
I’m surprisingly okay with this information.
Total Fat, Cholesterol and Sodium
If we’re really being health conscious, the amount of cholesterol and fat might scare you off right now too. Look at that lake of bacon and cheese.
- 3 small potatoes = 162mg sodium
- 4 strips of BACON, pan-fried = 8g total fat, 26mg cholesterol and 460mg sodium
- 1/2 cup CHEESE = 15g total fat, 55mg cholesterol and 350mg sodium
PARTY SERVING (2 persons) TOTAL = 53g total fat, 81mg cholesterol and 972mg sodium
SINGLE SERVING TOTAL = 27g total fat, 41mg cholesterol and 486mg sodium
Totally nothing to worry about!
Daily Recommended Levels
Health agencies all over the world have drummed up recommendations on the upper limit on certain food groups (fat, saturated fat, trans fat, sodium, cholesterol) and lower limit of healthier food (fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, calcium).
Reading the nutrition label is a life hack!!!
Total fat intake should be no more than 30% of calories. Saturated fat, which is found in fatty meat like bacon and cheese, is definitely less recommended than unsaturated fat.
For a 1500-calorie diet (which is my maintaining requirement), upper limit should be around 50g. If you eat my recipe with other people and not hoard it to yourself, you’re in the clear.
Total cholesterol should be less than 300mg/day. The recipe is again in the clear.
Total sodium intake should be less than 2000mg per day. The recipe is in the clear… not really. 486mg of sodium in one sitting is way too much. For all of these values, always remember that you’ll be eating other meals for the day!
And lastly: earlier, I said that potato is technically a vegetable. It is a vegetable in the sense that a potato is a starchy modified stem. It is not a vegetable in the sense that your daily requirement of 400g of fruits and vegetables does not include potatoes. Sorry.
This is stressful. Just eat and enjoy the food.
Kitchenomics: Easy Baked Potatoes
For comparison, let’s look at the one of the commercially-available baked potatoes in Manila. Wendy’s Baked Potato Bacon and Cheese is the size of one medium-large potato. It costs upward of PHP49.
With a microwave, 3 small potatoes, leftover bacon and some cheese, you’ll instead spend:
- 3 small potatoes = PHP27
- 100g BACON = PHP40
- 1/2 cup CHEESE = PHP19
PARTY SERVING (2 persons) TOTAL = PHP86
SINGLE SERVING TOTAL = PHP43
The margin is so small! It’s hard to compare because I haven’t eaten at Wendy’s in ages, and I don’t know how their serving compares with mine.
But then again…
And if you use materials from your mom’s kitchen, are you really spending anything at all? *Wink wink*
Regardless of the comparison, one serving of easy baked potatoes is good enough as a snack or quick meal!
Until the next episode! (Breakfast food???)
P.S. I struggle writing for money but I never struggle writing about food.