With instant pots and air fryers making a big splash in the kitchen equipment department, it’s understandable why you haven’t placed the microwave on the top of your wishlist.
But nobody can dispute that a microwave is an appliance to have if you’re a busy parent, vegan, or simply just want a quick-fix from your cooking slump. If you’re still not sold and want to weigh the pros and cons of getting a microwave, here’s everything you need to know:
Downsides of Using Microwaves
Let’s start with the downsides of using microwaves, shall we? There are two debatable issues that may be a concern for you:
- Microwave-safe containers: The take-out, TV dinners and other food containers often come in microwave-safe plastics that instruct you how to heat your food in the microwave. While these are actually safer than ordinary plastics, there is still a small percent that BPA and phthalates transfer to your food. The quickest fix to this is to use glass or stoneware instead of the packaging your food came in. They do heat up exceptionally well, so you have to be ready with thick oven mitts or pot holders to avoid burning your fingers.
- Risks to uncooked meat: Everyone knows that uncooked meat can be dangerous because the pathogens are supposed to be killed by proper heat through cooking. However, the risks of uncooked meat become possible in some instances where the meat is too thick or too large for the microwave to handle (meats require a minimum of 140 degrees Fahrenheit for them to be safe to eat).
Microwaves have been dragged by junk food in the past, with a wide range of unhealthy food like pre-packed buttered popcorn and frozen cheese sticks advertising the microwave as its cooking method. But this doesn’t have to be a “downside.” You’d be surprised by the many healthy food items you could cook and steam straight from your microwave.
Benefits of Using Microwaves
Now that you understand the downsides, let’s focus on the benefits of microwaves.
- Preserves nutrients in fruits and vegetables. Contrary to popular belief, heating or cooking fruits and vegetables in microwaves can actually preserve their nutrients better than cooking on a stovetop. Yes, any food you put in heat would break down its nutrients, but if you can cook it for less time, then you’re controlling how much nutrients the food could keep. FYI, The longer food is heated, the more nutrients are broken down, regardless of cooking method. This is where microwaves actually shine the best since they use short-wavelength electromagnetic waves at high frequencies that induce water molecules to vibrate. The more vibration a food gets, the hotter its water content becomes and the quicker it will be cooked or heated.
- Energy efficiency. Just how much kitchen equipment do you have right now? Coffee maker? toaster? sandwich maker? Traditional oven? Airfryer? Instapot? Rice cooker? Popcorn-maker? The standard kitchen has at least 5 kitchen gadgets that homeowners regularly use. Imagine the power consumption just from your kitchen tasks. Fortunately, microwaves are energy efficient. They also don’t retain heat as long as your stove or conventional oven, which means your kitchen wouldn’t require cooling as much.
- Convenience. Microwaves are able to thaw food pretty quickly than any other kitchen equipment you have. It is also versatile, allowing you to place anything from soups to noodles, popcorn to veggies inside and either have it heated or cooked in no time. You can find thousands of recipes that use microwaves as the main cooking equipment, which are usually time-saving especially if you’re preparing meals for just you or another person.
If you compare it to gas stoves and conventional ovens, microwaves are definitely safer for children. For parents who prepare food early mornings or during the weekends, making ahead homemade, microwave-safe meals in the fridge, then asking the kids to heat them on their own is possible. With a microwave, you don’t have to worry about fire, smoke, or excess heat endangering your kids.
A Note about Radiation in Microwaves
The biggest concern people have about microwaves is radiation. Who in their right mind would expose themselves to harmful radiation, right? However, you have to know that the type microwave ovens produce is called electromagnetic radiation, which is not the radiation that comes from atomic bombs, nuclear disasters, and other similar instances.
Instead, what microwaves produce is non-ionizing radiation, the radiation similar to what mobile phones produce, but a bit stronger. This is the reason why microwaves are designed with metal screens and shields to prevent radiation from leaving the oven and why microwave manufacturers warn of using microwaves with broken doors.
As you can see, the benefits of microwaves definitely outweigh the drawbacks (which any user can solve by choosing the proper microwave-safe container and ensuring meats are cooked well enough).