Whether you’re in a college dorm, at the office, or waiting on your worthless landlord to fix your oven, learning how to maximize your microwave can be a handy skill to learn. There have been periods of my life when I’ve only had a microwave and others when I didn’t have a microwave at all, and let me tell you, the latter kind of sucked. Even if you have a fully equipped kitchen, some foods just cook better (and a thousand times faster) in the microwave. Make the most of the current kitchen situation. Here’s what to buy at the grocery store if you only have a microwave.
- Green Giant Riced Veggies Cauliflower
Cauliflower rice is the number one thing that’s better in the microwave than if you were to make it on the stove. So much better, in fact, that it made managing editor Gwynedd Stuart rethink her anti-microwave superiority. Green Giant Riced Veggies Cauliflower comes in a bag specifically intended for the microwave and that helps deliver a “crunchy and pleasant, fluffy but firm” product. Spice it up to make it your own and no one will suspect all you did was nuke it for four minutes.
Related: Best Cauliflower Rice: The Best Frozen Cauliflower Rice for a Low-Carb Dinner
- Trader Joe’s Vegan Thai Green Curry
In general, I’m a big fan of Trader Joe’s microwavable meals. At best, they offer incredible variety, and at worst, they’re acceptable versions of their unfrozen counterparts. This vegan Thai green curry didn’t quite live up to green curry from a local restaurant when senior writer Jordan Myrick tried them head to head, but it gave takeout a run for its money! Jordan loved its flavor, creaminess, and spice, and appreciated ingredients like baby eggplant and tofu skins. If you only have a microwave, keep this meal on hand for a quick, tasty, and cheap lunch.
Related: TJ’s vs. Takeout: Thai Green Curry
- Lean Cuisine French Bread Pepperoni Pizza
French bread pizza is one of a handful of foods I’d recommend you only make in the oven. That being said, Lean Cuisine sells a totally serviceable French bread pizza that was made for the microwave, and who am I to go against their wishes? Gwynedd observed that the bread gets a little chewy in the microwave, but can I tell you a secret? I kind of enjoy that…a little chew and some spicy pepperoni help scratch the French bread pizza itch in a pinch.
Related: Best Lean Cuisine Meals: The 8 Leanest and Meanest in the Freezer
- Annie’s Rich & Creamy Classic Cheddar
Microwavable mac and cheese comes in handy when I need a quick and cozy comfort meal. Annie’s Rich & Creamy Classic Cheddar lives up to its name by delivering a satisfyingly creamy meal that tastes like it came right off of the stovetop. If you’re looking to maximize your experience, utilize Jordan’s three tips for the best preparation: only microwave one cup at a time, add the cheese powder prior to cooking, and drain the water, even if they tell you not to. I like to dig in as soon as the molten cup reaches acceptable eating temperature so I can feel the warm, gooey, sauce-covered shells heat up my body as they go down.
Related: The Best Microwave Mac and Cheese for Quick Comfort
- Campbell’s Well Yes! Roasted Red Pepper & Tomato Sipping Soup
Eating in the car is an underrated experience, as long as you follow a few simple rules. You mean I can have a whole meal and listen to an entire episode of the Dateline podcast between my home and my destination? Incredible. Prepare for your next car ride by throwing a can of Campbell’s Well Yes! Roasted Red Pepper & Tomato Sipping Soup into the microwave as you rush to put your pants on. It has everything you love about tomato soup—plus, fresh red pepper flavor—in a convenient little cup.
Related: Best Canned Tomato Soup Because Your Grilled Cheese Deserves It
- Ramona’s Bean & Cheese Burrito
If you take 30-plus minutes to make your bean burritos in the oven every single time, go ahead and pat yourself on the back. I myself am not a masochist (at least not in this sense), so I cut 95% of the cooking time by using my microwave! To my mind, a bean and cheese burrito should also be a snack not a full meal so the use of a microwave is fully acceptable here because in no world am I waiting 30 minutes for a snack. Ramona’s Bean & Cheese Burrito is so beany, cheesy, and flavorful, and it honestly tastes better out of the microwave.
Related: Best Frozen Bean and Cheese Burritos (Plus One Dairy-Free!)
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