If there’s one thing that defines the current age, then it’s probably ‘being in a rush’. We are constantly on the go, constantly in demand and constantly out of time. This is true for families where there are more and more cases of both parents working, where more and more people are staying on late at work and getting after-hours calls, and where we are trying to juggle busy social lives.
Many things suffer when there are such demands on our time and resources, but one of the things that tends to suffer the most quietly is our diet. When we are in a hurry and with barely two pennies to rub together, we think nothing of course of going for an ‘easy’ meal in the kitchen which generally means just heating something up in the microwave.
This is a good strategy insofar as our time and money is concerned, but the effect it can have on our health is very bad. Here are a few reasons why, followed by how you can get around the problem and eat your meals healthily – even out of the microwave.
Problems With Microwave Meals
Firstly, why shouldn’t we eat meals that have been prepared in the microwave cheaply? Well first of all the problem is the very high salt content. This high salt content has two main purposes. The first is to help preserve the food and avoid it being ruined by bacteria. The second is to artificially add flavor to something and make it more moreish. As all of us know, salt in high quantities is very unhealthy and especially for our hearts.
Next, and for similar reasons, cheap microwave meals are often also filled with fat and sugar. The sugar again helps to improve the flavor when much of it has been lost in the preparation process. The fat meanwhile is in the concoctions both because the food is cheap – meaning that you certainly aren’t getting the best cuts of meat, and because fat takes the longest to digest of all food groups which helps to make these small meals feel more substantial.
Finally the process of microwaving the meal does little to improve its nutritional value. This is because the very thorough form of cooking that heats the food from the inside out, kills off a lot of the nutrients that were in the fruits and vegetables. It can also release fat from the meat which will then fry the rest of the food in the packet. These are empty calories and high in fat, sugar and salt. Not great.
That’s not to say though that microwave meals can’t be healthy, and it is possible to make them better in several ways. Of course one solution is to simply spend more on better quality meals – though for many people this would defeat the object of microwave meals in the first place. And so you could alternatively try using steamed meals instead. These meals are prepared in the microwave and they can be frozen, however the way they cook is different – instead relying on steam in a bag to cook the food rather than the microwave radiation itself.
Another alternative is to boil food in the microwave, and this can be achieved by putting frozen food in a bowl of water into the microwave for example. Frozen vegetables are ideal for this and will retain most of the healthiness.
You can also buy other cheap meals and use the microwave to heat them – soup for instance is usually nutritious and can be prepared in the microwave. Alternatively you can use the microwave just to heat up food you have previously prepared at a point when you did have more time. If you cook a bolognaise for example, then this is something you can simply freeze and then re-heat in the microwave as and when you want it making it a very good way to be able to make healthy food available at the drop of a hat.