The Challenge:

When the rest of the editorial staff challenged me to cook with only a microwave for an entire day, I was a bit peeved. I had just bought bags of fresh produce — squashes, peppers, tomatoes, spinach, sweet potatoes — and had been looking forward to roasting, sautéing, frying, broiling … not nuking. I like to cook to avoid my problems (you should try it sometime) and this week I was stressed to no end. You know how it goes: everything (boys, school, work, your hard drive crashing) hits the fan at once. I just wanted to lock myself in my kitchen, put on some Usher and cook.

But I love a good challenge, and I firmly believe in playing by the rules, of which there were only a few. I couldn’t use anything to cook food except for a microwave. I was allowed to eat food in its raw state (bread was okay, toast wasn’t; apples were fine, baked apples were out of the question). And of course, I had to log everything.

I quickly realized that microwave cooking is definitely still cooking. While I looked up recipes in lecture, multitasking as per usual, I was shocked by what I could make without using an oven or stove. These microwave-only recipes made me feel officially inspired.

I had originally planned to make turkey chili for dinner, but couldn’t figure out a way to do so in the microwave. I replanned my menu for the day, forgoing my normal breakfast of eggs and toast and deciding that nuking leftover stuffed peppers for lunch was probably cheating.

The Food:

Breakfast: Oatmeal with fresh fruit

Photo by Alex Weiner

I had leftover oats from cookies I made a few weeks ago, so I threw them in the microwave with some water and then mixed them with blueberries and bananas. Things I learned: (1) oatmeal will explode all over your microwave if you don’t put it in a big enough bowl, and (2) I still hate the taste and texture of oatmeal. I fixed the first issue with a bunch of paper towels and the second one by adding some chocolate chips to my breakfast.
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Photo by Alex Weiner

Lunch: Squash à la microwave

Photo by Alex Weiner

I really wanted to make this spaghetti squash recipe, but all I had was butternut squash (woe is me). I figured a squash is a squash, though, so I followed the same instructions for cooking it in the microwave and topped it with pepper and Parmesan cheese. It was surprisingly awesome, and I’d cook this again.

Photo by Alex Weiner

DinnerMicrowaveable soup and vegetables

Photo by Alex Weiner

No one said I couldn’t eat prepackaged stuff. This was a simple, easy dinner, and instead of spending two hours stirring chili, I worked on a paper that’s been looming over my head for a week. Kind of a blessing in disguise.

Dessert: Chocolate chip cookie in a mug


Photo by Alex Weiner

I’ve always wanted to do one of those mug desserts and when I saw that this recipe only took six minutes, I couldn’t resist. Freshly baked cookies are one of my favorite things on this earth. I had all the ingredients on hand and really did have a warm, gooey chocolate chip cookie in six minutes. Magic? Maybe.


Photo by Alex Weiner

Snacks: Tea, pretzels, apple and peanut butter, carrots and hummus


Photo by Alex Weiner

Throughout the day, I snacked on things that didn’t need to be cooked, which was easy enough.

Lesson Learned:

I still love cooking. But utilizing your microwave is a great way to cook food quickly and easily, leaving more time for, y’know, studying and working and all the other things that college requires … like binge-watching “Orange Is the New Black” with your roommates.