As a single cook I am always looking for ways to improve my cooking.  Whether it be speed, taste, or ingredients.  Most of my time spent in the food industry we frowned upon microwave usage, so naturally I never wanted to learn.  Things changed for me when I started working for a large steakhouse chain, where they used the microwave to enhance the speed and was a quality product for the guest.  I thought, how cleaver and the food was really good! I should be using these techniques for myself! 

That is when I started experimenting with cooking for one and the microwave.  This is what I’ve learned and how you can use it to benefit you too!

It is a win-win for a single person to use a microwave.

Why? There are a lot of ways to cook using the microwave that doesn’t sacrifice quality.  For example, cooking vegetables in water or letting them steam helps dirty one less pot.  Instead use a small bowl, which helps keep portioning under control. Not that you have to worry about portion control with veggies, but you do with starches and desserts!

What happens when you make three extra potatoes because you only want to turn the oven on once this week?  They are so readily available you may be tempted to eat a second one! Or even worse, throw them away in a week because you haven’t eaten them.

Quality vs quick and mushy.

The trick to using the microwave to cook is to find what you can make with quality.  Quick and mushy always reminds me of left over pizza that you threw in the microwave and the crust is always chewy.  What is quality?  Quality is something that tastes just as good from the microwave as it did coming from the stove top or oven.  This brings me to our next point.

What and how do I cook quality food from the microwave?

People have successfully made all almost everything the microwave.  If this is your only means of cooking, go for it!  What do you have to lose?  For the rest of the world, we likely at least have a stove with an oven that can help us create a fantastic meal for ourselves.  I have compiled a list of how to cook easy, quality things in the microwave for the single person.  Some of these items are better made in alternative methods if cooking for more than just one, because it takes less time.

****Wash all veggies and potatoes before cooking

If you are serious about continuing to use the microwave to help you cook, here are a couple tools that can help you cook better in the microwave:

At the end of the day, it may be easier to cook pasta, eggs and rice on the stove top.  It doesn’t save you really any time or dishes to cook them in the microwave.  I wanted to share the option because this is about microwaving and not sacrificing quality.  These items are on the list, but I can’t promise that it will be more efficient.

Veggies, potatoes and bacon on the other hand, I recommend you start with those!  Usually cooking these items create less mess, cook in less time and are likely to become your favorites!

What about the dessert in a mug thing that is so trendy right now?

If you don’t know what that is, it is a single serve dessert in a mug that you can cook completely in the microwave.  I’m not a big fan of keeping dessert in my home and I used to make a single serving brownie (many years ago).  It was never really anything of quality, so I have not really gotten involved with that trend.  That being said I do want to try out some microwave one mug soup recipes!  If they work out, you might see them!

How to use the microwave to precook something.

I love to use the microwave to speed up cooking of a product.  I actually first discovered how much I enjoyed this when I was making pizza rolls in college.  I don’t eat pizza rolls anymore… although they are sounding pretty good right about now!  I now use this tactic to speed up preparation of foods like egg rolls, precooked chicken tenders, etc.  Here is the step by step directions.  Turn the oven on to warm.  While it is warming put your food in the microwave for a short period (think 45 seconds).  Check to see if it is thawed and slightly warm.  Then place in oven to finish off.  You just cut off 5 minutes of baking time!  I always feel like this made my pizza rolls taste the best!  Maybe I should take a break to eat something…

Using a microwave and a lower heat setting.

This is something a microwave pro does, there are also presets on most microwaves that encourage this.  For example, the popcorn button helps cook it to with the perfect time and perfect heat!  I feel like microwave creators added this to help people use lower heat settings. 

Lower heat settings are used for thawing meats (defrost mode).  This is my least favorite way to thaw food, but if you are in a time crunch, go for it!  Make sure you pay attention to approximate weight of product and when the microwave tells you to turn the meat over.  In case you were wondering, you weren’t were you? My favorite way to thaw is by pulling it from the freezer a day or two before.  You don’t get those half cooked pieces from the microwave and there is no real additional work.

How we use the microwave in the industrial food service world.

I want to make this clear to begin with, if you eat at a fine dining restaurant, most likely they do not use a microwave to cook your food.  If you eat at any other restaurant, they likely use a microwave on some level. Examples of this include, vegetables in bags, baked potatoes, macaroni and cheese, lasagna, etc.  The craziest part behind this… is that most of this food tastes pretty good!

How to make single serve meals for yourself.

Let’s take lasagna for example.  I like using lasagna because it is a mushy food and its quality isn’t sacrificed by being microwaved.    In the industrial world, we make a huge pans of lasagna.  After they have cooled (this helps the pieces stay together), we cut it up and divide it into single portions in microwavable bowls.  The bowls are then wrapped or put in the plastic bag.  From there either they stay in the refrigerator for meals that will be ordered or they hit the freezer. 

You can adapt this method at home and have your meals ready to rock! Make a whole pan of lasagna and store half of it in the freezer for later.  We all know that eating the same thing for three days isn’t always appetizing, so be sure to use microwave safe bowls to divide it up in to individual portions. 

I will warn that when you heat the lasagna up in the microwave, try to use ones that are thawed in advance.  Think about pulling one out of the freezer at the beginning of the week as a backup meal.  Otherwise, it comes out hot on the outside and frozen in the middle.  If cooking from frozen, use a lower power on your microwave to help to avoid making this mistake!  

I hope that you will take on the challenge to make some amazing microwave meals! This article gave you some in site on how using you microwave to cook single potions can enhance your cooking experience!  You will now be able to try to cook individual portions, without making extra dishes, precook without losing quality, use a lower setting on a microwave and get creative about cooking in advance! I know that there are some microwave haters out there, but maybe they have just had too many bad pieces of reheated pizza!

Take Action Plan: 

- Look for quality items not quick and mushy

- Use for items that save time and dirty dishes

- First try veggies in the microwave, then try potatoes and bacon

- Experiment with precooking something in the microwave to cut down on oven time

- Brainstorm a few items you can make and freeze in individual portions

What are some of your favorite things you like to make in the microwave?  Have you ever failed miserably at making something in the microwave?

Main Blog Post: (C) LiveLifeHacking

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11/15/2016 3:49pm

As someone who isn't fond of touching the stove much, this post was extremely helpful and awesome!

Thanks for writing it!

11/15/2016 8:56pm

Thanks for reading Stephanie. I'm glad you found this helpful!


This is really an informative blog post. It actually helps a lot specially to those who are starting to learn how to cook like me. This made me decide to buy a microwave oven. I really appreciate this post. All you have to know is actually here, the item, how to cook that item, how long and when it is done. Microwave is really amazing that it can cook at high speed and quality is good at the same time.

01/04/2017 3:15am

A very well written post...never read such issue before. Thanks fo informing.

05/02/2017 12:10pm

I'm always trying to impove my cooking too! It gives the whole life a new taste ;)


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