Microwave meals continue to have an important role in many family kitchens, because of time pressures, ease of use and sheer convenience. Economics also plays a part in their popularity. In this article, we look at why microwave cookers have such a staple part to play, along with some popular family meals that can be cooked using them.
Instead of being a luxury as before, a microwave cooker of reasonable quality is now within the reach of most family budgets. It is estimated that over 90 percent of homes in the US now have one – in fact, some homes do not even have a conventional oven. Microwaves are economical and (in tests based on reheating) can use as little as seven to fourteen times less energy than their conventional electric counterparts. Another benefit is that in summer they do not heat up the entire kitchen, with the discomfort and expense of unnecessary extra heat.
A microwave oven can be used for more than just simply reheating or defrosting food, however. Modern types in particular have a number of extra features and some are known as ‘combination microwaves’, with multi-function units that can be used for roasting and grilling, steaming vegetables and a pizza setting to give crispness.
Panasonic, Russell Hobbs and Samsung are just three well-known manufacturers who offer a wide choice of modern and efficient options, ranging from the sleek-looking to the practical and functional, suitable for heavy use. Aesthetically, these appliances are available in various finishes and colors to complement most kitchens. Remember, a family of four or more will need a larger oven – not the smallest type.
In addition to meat and fish, microwave recipes include garlic bread, potato chips, casseroles, rice, savory sauces and many desserts. Vegetables retain more nutrients including vitamins and minerals, instead of being boiled away; many foods are left with a better taste and texture. Cooking times are also considerably shorter – a tasty dish of poached fish in parsley sauce can be prepared in a few minutes. Baked potatoes can be cooked from the inside out in a fraction of the time which a conventional oven takes – and can have similar texture too, if pricked with a knife beforehand and left for the recommended standing time after cooking (which most recipes recommend). Also, food should be stirred at least once during cooking as this helps to distribute heat evenly.