I encouraged you in this post that you can reheat leftovers without using the microwave, either with a toaster oven/standard oven or a pot on the stovetop. Obviously the beauty of the microwave is that it does this job much quicker (usually) than the traditional methods. Another concern with using pots, pans, cookie sheets, etc. is the extra dishes load.
Time Management Tips
Here are some practical tips for managing your time and cutting down on dishes:
- Put soup on to boil or a casserole/leftovers in the toaster oven as soon as you walk into the kitchen for the meal. Often by the time you’ve gotten out everything you need for the meal, the food is hot.
- Try to use the same dish for reheating as for eating: either store your leftovers in glass, ovensafe dishes (Pyrex, Anchor-Hocking) or take a risk with your Corelle dishes.
If you’re just gently reheating something like a thin layer of spaghetti for a youngster or melting cheese for nachos, you can probably get away with putting your plate right in the toaster oven, either on “toast” or “bake”. I realized one day that I often saw people put pancakes on a plate in a warm oven, and I tried putting one in my toaster oven. It didn’t break. I was excited with my new discovery! Since December I’ve only lost one plate — I think the kielbasa I was trying to heat up was (a) too cold (frozen) and perhaps (b) too greasy. It cracked the plate all to pieces. Sad, but I’m going to keep using Corelle in the toaster oven because they can go right into my dishwasher.
- Hang hot pads right near your toaster oven. That way you can easily grab one to get your leftovers out and then put it under your dish on the table. You’ll just get used to needing a hot pad under your plate.
If you organize your space for efficiency, you’ll be more likely to feel positive about making a change.
- Use one pot for multiple leftovers. A single serving of soup or spaghetti and sauce, for example, heats up mighty fast in a pot on the stovetop. With the microwave we’re often willing to go one person at a time to reheat our leftovers, so why not on the stovetop? I’ll just heat soup, pour into a bowl, and quickly rinse the pot and dump the next person’s leftovers in it.
- A little planning goes a long way. If you know what you’re going to have for lunch or dinner, you can usually plan ahead and just start the process 15 minutes earlier, then tackle a short task while your food is reheating. Like I told you with my Best Ever Scrambled Eggs, if you can multitask to accomplish something while food is taking care of itself in the oven or on the stovetop, it doesn’t really “count” as taking longer to reheat.
My Microwave Story, Part Five
You’ll remember from this post that I started out with a simple baby step when I decided the microwave might not be healthy for my family. I just chose to avoid it when I thought I could figure something else to do, but not to stress out about it. I was pondering the differences in my lunchtime shortly after, and I realized life may have actually changed for the better. Here’s my before-and-after:
- Get leftovers out, usually something different for me and my son.
- Put his in the microwave. (Worry that he’s standing there watching it turn around. More on this Friday.)
- Try to do another prep task in 30 seconds.
- Fail. Mic timer beeps too soon.
- Get his food out of the microwave. Put it on the table. Tell him lunch is ready.
- Get my food in the microwave.
- Cut a piece of fruit.
- Test the warmth of my food. Decide it’s not ready yet. Add 30 seconds.
- Get drinks; get interrupted by microwave.
- Put my food on the table.
- Begin to yell for son to come quickly because everything is ready!
- Daughter, of course, needs a new diaper about now.
- Change daughter’s diaper.
- Food is cold. Re-microwave son’s food.
- Re-microwave my food.
- Realize we still need drinks; complete that task.
- Realize we need condiments; get them out.
- Pray with son.
- Realize we need utensils; get them out.
- Take a bite of food.
- Decide food has gotten cold; re-microwave food.
And now that baby is eating solid food regularly, I could add more interruptions to get her food, feed her food, and wash her face. My microwaved food was always getting cold and needing to be re-nuked!
- Decide together what leftovers we will be eating; more often the same thing.
Added Bonus: Avoiding the microwave encourages me to choose the same leftovers as my son, ultimately requiring me to get fewer items out and simplifying lunch.
- Put something in the pot on the stove or on the tray or in glass dish(es) in the toaster oven; turn on heat.
- Focus attention on the rest of the meal.
- Cut fruit.
- Get out utensils.
- Find veggies to munch on.
- Pour beverages.
- Prepare baby’s food.
- Pull son’s food out (he’s afraid of hot things!).
- Call son to table, pray for meal, gather all the things I forgot about.
- Pull own meal out. Eat – drum roll, please! — hot food! A mother’s dream, really. We don’t eat hot food very often.
- After one or two bites, turn attention to feeding baby, getting son something else, or [fill in blank].
- Return to food…which is still something that could pass for “hot”. Not bad!
Usually, in truth, the food is ready by the time we’re ready. Sometimes we put the food in the toaster oven and play a little more. This makes my 3-year-old deliriously happy, and I don’t mind a little downtime either. I’m generally a tiny bit less stressed at lunchtime, so I prefer planning ahead and starting early to the rushing around to keep up with the microwave.
Rushing to Get Lunch?
If we have to get lunch quickly, like when we’ve just come in from shopping and it’s already 12:45, I can easily get food on the table, especially for the little ones, in 5 minutes. You choose sandwiches that day, or start with yogurt as an “appetizer” while other things are cooking. There are also many leftovers that heat up very quickly for a single serving: soup in a pot or a taco on a cookie sheet (at least hot enough for the son) in the toaster oven are two examples. Crudite platters are also nice and quick if you have veggies cut in advance, always a good practice to get families to eat more veggies.
I do hope this helps you figure out one more hurdle to avoiding the microwave. If you’re ready to commit, just to considering other options one opportunity at a time, please visit the invite post and leave a comment to be counted. Then you can use the fun widget in the sidebar and count up your “Microwave Minutes Saved”.
More on Mind the Microwave in May:
- The Challenge
- The Invitation
- Research Notes, part one: Breastmilk
- 10 Tips for Avoiding the Microwave
13 Surprising Benefits of Microwave Un-use coming Thursday…
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