I bought a microwave last night. When I first moved down here to Oceanside, I choose not to bring my microwave. I’d had the same microwave for years, that had been with me ever since I left for Chicago nearly 10 years ago. I had a friend who wanted one, and to be honest, it had been in my kitchen in Los Angeles where I had a prolonged battle with cockroaches. I’m not necessarily saying it was full of dead cockroaches, but I am saying that it might have been, and so for those reasons I decided to abandon it.

I also wanted to try just eating healthier in general. For most of my life, I’ve eaten out of the microwave quite often. Lately, I’ve gotten away from the Hot Pockets, the pizza rolls, and the hot dogs, but for a while there in high school, that was a good part of my diet. More recently, I’ve used the microwave for frozen meals and heating up leftovers, but when I left LA, I had the thought that the microwave wasn’t really helping all that much. All too often I’d put something bad for me in there, and let my fresh food or actual cooking go by the wayside. So I ditched it — when I moved down here, I decided that I would only keep healthy food in my apartment, and that I’d cook all of my meals, or just eat them cold.

The whole experiment more or less worked, though it was more interesting to find out what I couldn’t do than what I could. In terms of fresh food and cooking, I have done a lot of that in the past year, and there are some meals (like baked chicken or omelettes) that are basically staples in my diet these days. Wraps have also become a big deal for me, and they’ve never really been in my diet much before. Microwave foods have mostly been ditched, though there still are microwaves at my work, so occasionally I’d take cold leftovers knowing I could take them into the office, or buy some cheap microwave meals and bring them in for lunch.

What’s really missing, though, is convenience. I’d thought of the microwave as an enabler of sorts, but I forgot how much it offers in terms of technology. When I had an extra slice of pizza in the fridge, I’d either have to eat it cold, or familiarize myself with oven settings, rather than just nuking it for 30 seconds. And while I do enjoy cooking and can make things like casseroles and stir fry, I actually ate more without a microwave than I would with. I’d cook via a recipe that was meant to feed three or four, and rather than doing the math on when I could bring the leftovers to work, I ended up eating them all or eventually tossing them. And I ate out a lot more as well — without an easy dinner at home, but with only a few minutes to eat, I’d grab a sandwich from a store, or even pick up some snacks from a gas station.

I have fortunately cut most fast food from my life (and I’m working on getting those snacks out of there), including soda just recently. But lately, living without a microwave is just more trouble than it’s worth. Whether it’s a failure of willpower or of time, I’ve recently come to the decision that I think I’d be healthier (and less spendy) with a microwave then without. So I did my research, found some great Black Friday prices, and picked up a gleaming new silver microwave earlier this week.

Already, I’ve used it to cook a few quick meals, and already I’m happy with my decision — the food I’ve eaten out of this microwave was perfectly portioned and more diverse than what I’d usually cook myself. I appreciate the appliance as a bit of technology, too. Maybe it’s just that I’ve always had a microwave that’s a good ten or twenty years old, but this one I bought has a sensor inside that actually detects vapor coming off of my food to decide whether it’s done or not. To a guy who used to just hit three minutes and press start, that’s pretty amazing.

I’m excited, too, to figure out a healthier way to use the microwave. Again, Hot Pockets and hot dogs are off the menu these days, but a Google search of microwave recipes last night had me finding tips on how to steam rice and vegetables, how to microwave up soups, and how to make a perfect baked potato in the microwave. That last one I’m particularly excited about trying, and I’ll probably give it a shot later this week.

My original challenge was to lose the microwave entirely, and while I think it was a good idea, I don’t think it quite helped me in exactly the way I was hoping for. The new plan is to work with the technology instead of against it. Here’s hoping I can use convenience to stay healthy, rather than trading one for the other.

Posted on Tuesday, November 25th, 2014 at 10:55 pm. Filed under general.
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