Pros and Cons: Microwave vs. Oven for Preparing Ready-to-Go Meals

In our Pros and Cons series, we weigh the advantages and disadvantages of important decisions that apartment dwellers are making every day.

In a hectic world of working often (if not always), some apartment-dwellers have turned to ready-to-go meals that can be ordered in bulk or by subscription. The thing is, some apartments’ kitchens may be small and not have what’s needed for these meals: a microwave or an oven. On the other hand, if your apartment has both, knowing which is better for ready-to-go meals can be tricky. That’s why some pros and cons about microwaves versus ovens are listed below.

Microwaves cook food faster

A conventional microwave oven will prepare a ready-to-go entrée and side in an incredibly short amount of time. In a high-end microwave oven, curries or soups can be cooked for a minute, stirred, then cooked again for another minute or so to become ready to eat. Stain-resistant insides can also make cleaning much easier. Microwaves are also much more energy-efficient than ovens, so they can help you save on bills and time.

Microwaves are safer than ovens

From gas leaks to the risk of fires, using conventional gas ovens requires some precautions. The microwave is a compact and safe alternative. A microwave applies radiation to the water in a dish to heat a meal. An oven instead applies extreme heat to the air inside the dish. These differences also mean that a microwave cooks a meal from the center out, whereas a gas oven cooks a dish from the outside inward. 

Microwaves are more energy-efficient

Microwaves are almost seven times as energy-efficient than ovens. A typical microwave is 57 percent efficient in its electrical energy use compared to the traditional oven’s mere nine percent. 

Ovens cook food better

Preparing your food in the oven can bake the water out of a dish, which can lead to firmer, less soggy meals. If you prefer a nice sear or a little burnt edge to your meal, an oven may also be your preferred choice. Ovens excel at heating larger meals and dishes as well.

The direct transference of heat inside an oven ensures a more even spread of temperature, which can help to caramelize and crisp your food. Microwaves can’t quite achieve either effect. To turn a ready-to-go meal into something reminiscent of a home-cooked meal or a restaurant-quality dish, your oven may be the way to go.

Ovens don’t cause radiation poisoning

One concern about microwaves is that they can cause radiation poisoning if you stand too near them when in use. They can also leave behind dangerous microorganisms in food due to an uneven spread of temperature within a reheated, pre-prepared meal. Ovens, on the other hand, eliminate these issues. However, if your oven is open for too long or your is faulty, it can release a dangerous amount of poisonous carbon monoxide.

Nutritional value

While it was once believed that microwaves destroy nutrients, this has been found not to be the case with modern technology and newer studies of microwaved food. Some researchers have found that microwaved food can, in fact, retain more nutritional value so long as it’s prepared in something other than a plastic container.

Which do you prefer: your microwave or oven? Sound off in the comments!

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