Take a walk through the freezer section at any grocery store and you're likely find almost an entire aisle devoted to microwavable meals. From rice bowls to mac and cheese to lasagna — the options are endless. But even the ones that claim to be nutritious or healthful don't beat an equally quick meal made at home with the aid of the microwave.
When you're in a pinch or just want one less pot or pan to clean, let the microwave be the solution for a quick meal you make at home, at the office, or in your dorm.
1. Think simply.
While the microwave can really accomplish more kitchen tasks than you might think, it really thrives when left to do simple jobs, and cooking eggs is one of its best examples. Use it to make a quick poached egg, which you can place on top of some mixed greens for an easy lunch. Or whip up a fast omelet for breakfast. Heck, even go and cook up some bacon while you're at it.
2. Use quick-cooking ingredients.
One reason pastas and macaroni and cheese bowls are abundant in the microwavable meals department is that they are made up of ingredients that cook up relatively quickly. Whether its dry pasta being cooking for a one-bowl serving of mac and cheese, or a carefully prepared sauce that makes reheating a breeze, pasta is a favorite for meals that are made to be microwaved.
Read More: How To Make One-Bowl Microwave Macaroni and Cheese
3. Lean on leftovers.
Maybe there's not enough of yesterday's chili to just reheat it in the microwave and call it dinner, but there just might be enough to repurpose it into something entirely new with help from your microwave. Use it make some hearty baked potatoes or creamy polenta, which are the perfect vehicles for leftover chili, stew, and even stir-fries, turning them into a meal again.
4. Reach for a mug.
Mugs really are an efficient way to cook in the microwave because they hold and distribute heat well. If you need to kick a sugar craving quickly, a mug cake can be your savior — especially when there's Nutella involved. And while making French toast or pancakes in a mug won't be quite the same as making them the traditional way, they're just as satisfying and can be made in a whole lot less time.
Read More: 10 Breakfast Recipes You Can Make in a Mug in the Microwave
5. Don't forget your vegetables.
If you haven't tried steaming vegetables in the microwave yet, you really should. You can steam broccoli or any other vegetable, be it carrots, green beans, or cauliflower, using just a microwave safe-bowl and plate. After cooking, toss them with a little olive oil or butter and sprinkle them with salt and pepper and maybe even a little grated Parmesan cheese or crumbled feta. Add the vegetables to that pasta or polenta you made and you've got a light and healthy meal.
Read More: How to Steam Broccoli in the Microwave
(Image credits: Emma Christensen)