You’ve heard them, you’ve seen them, and you have certainly used one. Microwaves are one of our crowning jewels of household items and a way to prepare our quick-and-easy meals. Microwaves have been around for a long time and are a staple in household items; however, some people remain concerned about whether owning a microwave is worth it. Well, is it?
Microwaves are safe and easy to use, convenient for quick meals, and effective. However, they are expensive and potentially can cause burns and other health-related issues. Microwaves continue to be a staple household item. If properly used and maintained, microwaves are useful for many purposes.
As you can see, microwaves do have their ups and downs. Though microwaves display more pros than cons, it is vital for us not to ignore what cons it does have and be cautious when operating a microwave. In this article, we will explore further what makes a microwave the best machine ever, how it can be a thorn in our sides at times, and if owning one is worth it.
Though we know the microwave frontward and backward, we should remind ourselves what the microwave exactly is.
A microwave is simply a machine that emits electromagnetic radiation heating. It is one of the most familiar machines to come out of the 1970s. Though the history of microwaves did not start for the purpose of heating and reheating food, they eventually became a reliable source for anyone to cook quick meals when they are in a rush or just want to remain laid back and not prepare anything big.
After this spark of using microwaves for the foodery business, microwaves have been seen in every home. Anyone who has not heard of, seen, or used a microwave would be extremely rare and virtually impossible in today’s world. What was a device used for navigation, radar, and radio; have become the most popular commercial machines to cook our meals daily.
Now we know, again, what a microwave is. Let’s go ahead and now learn the specific pros and cons of a microwave and whether it is worth owning one.
Let’s start off with the pros of microwaves, specifically their convenience.
For convenience in cooking terms, microwaves heavily dominate the playing field when it comes to the time and effort required for the microwaving process. The process is simple: (1) choose a microwaveable meal and remove it from its packaging contents, (2) place the unpackaged meal in the microwave and close the microwave, (3) select the desired temperature and time for the cooking process, (4) press “Start” and wait for your meal to be prepared for consumption.
Most of my meal preparation via a microwave takes no more than 4 minutes. Microwaves are machines designed for quick and easy preparation that allows the consumer to sit back and relax until the meal is reheated.
For convenience in availability, they are everywhere and anywhere. You would have to look far and wide to find a grocery store that does not sell a single microwave. Luckily for us, microwaves are heavily tied to grocery-based products and therefore are present. These stores usually have dedicated sections where microwaves of different sizes and models are available for purchase. Overall, microwaves are everywhere, and attaining one is not a backbreaking experience.
With microwaves, they can be easily operated by anyone. Assuming they have a basic understanding of their model and brand of microwave, it doesn’t take a genius to know how to operate one. Sure, children will require parental supervision when trying it for the first time, but soon they will get the hang of it and can operate it safely by themselves.
Children, adolescents, young adults, mid-aged adults, and older adults can all use it with no problem or issue. The only issue I could see is that the microwave may not operate properly due to an unpreventable internal issue and will require professional assistance in fixing it or simply purchasing a new machine.
In the end, microwaves do not require a high level of skill and knowledge to use. They are designed for convenience and accessibility for anyone to use in a quick and easy fashion.
What can I say about the effectiveness of a microwave other than that it works extremely well for most food products? On average, a microwave takes up about 1,200 watts. This average is just as effective as any other higher or lower-powered microwave, relatively. Regardless of the type of microwave you purchase, the wattage power it consumes will get the job done.
The effectiveness of the microwave in cooking has been reliable ever since its inception in 1967, as this was the year when home microwaves were first commercially established and placed in every home that bought one. A microwave’s effectiveness can be attributed to several aspects: cooking quality, reheating functionality, and defrosting. We will briefly go over each of these and truly understand the power the microwave has.
First, the cooking quality. What we mean by this is that the food may not be the best-tasting product that comes out of the microwave, but food nutrients are retained and preserved by not overcooking it. Microwaves’ accessibility to adjust and choose how to cook the product helps one to prevent overcooking and loose quality nutrients that should remain.
Overcooking can happen in microwaves but will be due to improper use by the user. Generally, microwaves do a fantastic job of providing a meal that has its ingredients intact as possible during the entire process.
Next, microwaves are the perfect machines for reheating any food products. These can be products cooked exclusively in the microwave or in a more traditional way. Whatever initial cooking process you implemented, microwaves are there for reheating leftovers or slight touchups if the current temperature of the meal prepared isn’t sufficient. That’s another great thing about microwaves too; you may cancel the process anytime by pressing “Stop” or opening the door. You judge and regulate the heating and reheating process, not the microwave.
Finally, microwaves are a perfect solution for defrosting. Obviously, a microwave’s primary purpose is to provide heat, so needing to defrost a product can be done in the microwave. Not only will it do the same job as defrosting under warm water, but defrosting in the microwave helps save significant time, especially if you are under a time constraint. Just make sure you have a bowl or something to catch the water that falls from the defrosted product or else your microwave will be a puddle of mess.
In addition to the pros just mentioned, we will briefly mention other pros that one may consider.
For starters, microwaves are both small and easier to transport than an oven. The size makes moving a microwave a cinch and does not require any additional help other than your raw strength. They’re not even heavy in the first place either. Children will need to be careful still as they tend to be weaker so parental guidance will be needed. This also applies to those with any physical abnormalities such as naturally occurring issues associated with older age.
Another pro is cleaning maintenance is easy. Remove the rotation tray and clean the inside and outside of the microwave. Clean the rotation tray and replace it back in the microwave. Simple as that.
Lastly, returning to the size of the microwaves, they are small and conserve space. These can be placed in nearly every corner of the home without sacrificing too much space. This increases its benefits for anyone who is either running out of home space or those who maximize the current space available. The microwave won’t take up unnecessary space, allowing for other essentials to find a space and be utilized.
Overall, microwaves have many pros that overtake any cons that we will address but is, nevertheless, important to note for personal understanding and clarity.
Before we shift gears over towards what makes microwaves a possible thorn in the side, aka the cons, let’s address some safety concerns some people may have.
First, because of such radiation the microwave emits, people argue that overexposure will cause issues such as burns and other health-related issues that target either the eyes or testes, for example. This may be true to a degree, but only high levels would be the true perpetrator for any negative effects. For any other levels of microwave exposure, it doesn’t seem to be fully proven or tested yet to the point where we should be concerned when using one.
Second, most issues that stem from the microwave’s functionality can be attributed to the user’s improper use and maintenance. If used properly, the microwave itself won’t hurt anyone, only themselves. If we aren’t sure how to use or maintain a microwave, always consult with the manual or someone who is more experienced with microwaves.
For example, do not put non-microwaveable products inside as they may cause unnecessary sparks and burns within the machine. Be smart in how you use the microwave and only use it for its intended purpose: cooking and preparing food.
Now that we have some of the pros and safety concerns out of the way, let’s go ahead and talk about some cons of a microwave. The first is that microwaves are generally small and can only cook a certain amount of food product at once per heating process. For example, you cannot shove an entire 18″ Hawaiian pizza in the microwave unless you want to overcook and burn the food and cause a significant mess inside. Only one or two, maybe three slices, on a plate is recommended.
If you want to cook in bulk batches, use a traditional oven for this purpose as ovens are designed for larger meal preps. Microwaves are only for smaller meals in that the quantity that can fit into a microwave will be relatively small. When dealing with a bulk batch, use the microwave only for reheating where you are not cooking the entire food at once.
Not-So-Perfect Food Quality
Though we have said that reheating is an excellent way to bring leftovers back up to par with their initial temperatures, the quality will be lower. This can apply to initially using a microwave for cooking as well.
What we mean by the not-so-perfect food quality is that some of the ingredients may become either too crunchy or soggy, or too hard or soft, depending on the food product. For example, let’s use the Hawaiian pizza example again.
With an initial cooking process via oven, the pizza crust is very warm and crunchy, and soft; a perfect balance of stiffness and softness. When reheating in the microwave, that same pizza crust may become too stiff and barely crunchy. Yes, the temperature is there, however, this may also result in the crust being hard to tear and chew perhaps resulting in the microwave’s function being quick and easy and not being perfect and tasty.
Another example could be the quality difference between cooking a hot dog in a microwave or on a stovetop. Microwaving a hot dog may be fast and simple, but the taste is nowhere near a hot dog that is cooked on the stovetop. In my personal experience, a stovetop hot dog is preferred over a microwaved one.
When we are speaking in relative terms to ovens and stovetops, microwaves exceed in asking prices. If we are only looking at microwaves themselves, the prices can be extreme and cause for concern.
Though microwaves are an essential household item, this doesn’t justify the fact that some of the prices are absurd. The pricing will also depend on the brand and model of the machine. For example, an average cost of a microwave can be anywhere between $100-$600.
Some microwaves can reach up to the $2,000 mark for brands such as the Sharp microwaves. Sure, you can find a $50 microwave, for example, however, this is not recommended as they are lacking in functionality and quality, meaning that these microwaves may tend to break often, losing more money from your budget. If you are going for a decent-quality microwave, take the hit and spend a little extra cash for one that has durability and longevity.
If you want to find a positive from this section, just know that a decent microwave will go a long way and your money will be well worth it in that owning a microwave probably means you will use it more than once and for a long time before considering a new one.
Is it Worth it?
To conclude this article, we will address whether it is worth purchasing and owning a personal microwave. In short, yes, you should 100% purchase and own a microwave.
Living without a microwave can be detrimental in cases where you may need a quick meal before heading off for work or school. The lack of a microwave also prevents you to make those decisions and instead “forces” you to use an oven or stovetop that takes longer to heat up and prepare.
If you are thinking about long-term use and getting the most out of it, be willing to purchase a microwave as it will be with you for a while, assuming you are maintaining it properly. I would say not to buy a microwave if you are only going to use it sparingly. However, you may never know when you would need it, so buying one would ensure a backup method exists if your primary method of cooking food isn’t doing the job.
If you are a college student like me, having a microwave is a must. Again, relating to being in a rush, college students, for example, are busy with classes and possibly work, therefore not having sufficient time during the weekday to prepare anything that takes time. Unless they are excellent planners, having a microwave is a great way to get what you need and go. Lastly, some college students, or people in general, are lazy or not willing to cook extensively often, resulting in a microwave purchase to focus more on doing other things than cooking.
In the end, it will all depend on what you will use the microwave for. Generally, you should have a microwave for its convenience, accessibility, and effectiveness. Never think you don’t need one as it is a handy backup in case you do. Finally, longevity for each will be a lifesaver as years go by, saving money. Yes, go get yourself a microwave.