Are Microwaves Really More Convenient?
|January 9, 2013||Posted by Lindsey G. under Musings|
I haven’t used our microwave in over a year. Contrary to where you think I am heading, I actually stopped using our microwave due to reasons unrelated to health. I really hadn’t given that much thought to methods of re-heating my food until I started cooking and eating more real food. I don’t cook every night so I do have leftovers to re-heat for lunches and dinners. About a year ago, I decided to challenge myself to find other ways to heat up those leftovers and make other quick meals so I ditched the microwave to see what would happen. Now I am contemplating moving our microwave into the garage because it is taking up valuable space in my kitchen and is unused!
Ditching the microwave actually wasn’t that hard. Not only do we now avoid any potential health issues, we also learned that microwaving is not as convenient as we are led to believe and can actually cause more stress in the kitchen!
Microwaves and Processed Food Go Hand in Hand
Surprisingly, microwave ovens were not created with the purpose of cooking food. They were actually created to help spot war planes through radar in WWII. By accident, someone discovered that microwaves could cook food when they found a melted candy bar in their pocket! The first microwave was marketed and sold to the public in 1954. But as the cost of production went down so did prices and now pretty much every American has a microwave in their kitchen. I would bet that for many women, their only means of cooking know-how is with a microwave.
Sadly, as microwaves gained popularity, so did a dizzying array of ‘nifty’ processed food products from pizza with crispy crusts to lean steamer type ‘bowls’ to single serving oooey gooey brownie cups. These processed food products are quick and easy to heat up to satisfy our ever growing hunger for ‘fast’ food. What is faster than pulling something frozen out of your freezer and popping it in the microwave for a minute? The only waiting time after that satisfying ‘DING!’ is for the food to cool down enough for you to actually put it in your mouth without burning yourself. At that point it just becomes race to eat the item before it becomes cold and rock hard. So while they may be convenient, most are all full of GMOs and toxic chemicals and highly processed garbage.
Do Microwaves and Real Food Mix?
Clearly this blog is about real homemade food, not quick and easy processed minute meals you cook in the microwave. So is there any room for microwaves in a real food kitchen? Here is what I learned when I started to think about what my microwave was really for.
- Designed for single servings, not for family meals. It is basically impossible to heat up dinner for a family of four at the same time. Dinnertime becomes waves of heating and waves of eating. Someone always ends up stuck in the kitchen doing the microwaving and invariably that person ends up watching everyone else wolf down their food while they wait for successive ‘DINGS!’.
Overcooked, ‘Nuked’ Food. Food heated in a microwave actually tastes different to me than food heated and cooked using other methods. It just tastes too hot and ‘nuked’! That is because a microwave does heat differently than other conventional methods – it cooks from the inside out very rapidly. Here is a video which explains it in engineering terms and also shows why you don’t get even heating with a microwave (due to the wavelength in fact!).
- Convenience? The minutes before a meal can be pretty stressful for a mother. People aren’t so pleasant when they are HUNGRY – especially young kids and tired husbands (and mothers!). I felt like the microwave was actually stressing me out and getting in my way of creating a sit down family experience. That annoying ‘DING!’ sound would elicit impatient behavior from my daughter and husband. I was forced to move a lot faster. I never had enough time to really think through the meal and get all the right condiments and cold accompaniments on the plates or the table. I was constantly running back to the kitchen for something I had forgotten (‘Mom – can you please get the ketchup! Mom can you please pour me a glass of milk!’). I never got to sit down and actually eat with my family.
How to Ditch Your Microwave
So how do I re-heat our leftovers and make other quick meals?
- Reheat your food on the stove top or in the oven. Food reheated this way tastes like it was freshly made not nuked. Your family will not know it is re-purposed leftovers!
- Focus on the goal of sitting down to eat together not in two minutes intervals. When food is reheated properly it will all be hot and ready at the same time and will also remain warm for second helpings.
- Slow down. Take the time to think about that entire meal and get it all ready beforehand. This way you can all sit down together and enjoy your meal and each other without stress.