There's more to microwaving than piling food on a plate and pushing start. Microwaves are not just for reheating leftovers and boiling water; they can actually be a super-helpful (and healthy) tool for quick and efficient cooking — as long as they're used properly.
1. You don't always have to use the high power setting.
High power is not a catch-all setting for microwave cooking. Instead, get familiar with all the power settings on your microwave. Adjusting the power (in particular, lowering it) is the smartest way to get better-tasting food from the microwave.
Read More: The One Thing You Can Do for Smarter Microwave Cooking
2. You can use plastic in the microwave (with one caveat).
According to the USDA, as long as plastic wrap is labeled microwave-safe, it's OK to use in the microwave. They also recommend leaving plenty of space between the plastic wrap and food so it doesn't actually touch the food during cooking.
Read More: Is It Safe to Use Plastic Wrap in the Microwave?
3. There's a right way and a wrong way to microwave leftovers.
How you put food on a plate seriously affects how it's heated in the microwave. Instead of piling food in the center, spread it in a circle around the outer edge of the plate, leaving an opening in the center. The more surface area the food takes up, the better.
Read More: The Wrong Way (and the Right Way!) to Microwave Leftovers
4. Microwave cooking is great for vegetables.
Because microwaves heat quickly and with minimal water contact, vegetables cooked in the microwave retain the water-soluble nutrients that get drained away when blanching.
Read More: Are You Using Your Microwave to Cook Vegetables? You Should Be.
5. Slow cooking, loud sounds, and a malfunctioning keypad are signs you need a replacement.
Like all kitchen appliances, your microwave wasn't built to last forever. If your microwave is cooking much slower than normal, making loud sounds, or the keypad isn't functioning as it should, it's probably time to consider a replacement, which is likely to prove more economical than a repair.
Read More: 6 Signs It's Time to Replace Your Microwave
(Image credits: Adrienne Breaux)