Sometimes, cooking can be a chore even for those who love it the most. Coming home from a long day at work or school and having to heat up the oven and prep food can be a daunting task. But staying healthy and eating correctly can be a challenge when you’re not cooking for yourself. Luckily, there are a few easy, healthy weeknight meals that can actually be made right in the microwave. These meals are not only delicious but they don’t require very much prep time. You won’t have to heat up the oven or stove, and best of all, the cooking time is incredibly quick.
Spaghetti squash is a delicious, healthy, lower-calorie substitute for traditional pasta, and it can also be prepared right in the microwave. To cook the squash, simply use a sharp knife to prick the vegetable all over so steam can escape. Place it in a microwave-safe dish in the microwave and start cooking. You’ll usually need to cook it for about five minutes per pound of squash. Once the squash has cooled, you can cut it in half, scoop out and discard the seeds, and then scrape out the squash flesh with a fork. Once the spaghetti-like strands of squash have been removed, they can be topped with any of your favorite pasta toppings, including marinara, alfredo sauce, pesto, cheese, or meatballs.
A loaded potato is a quick, easy treat for a weeknight dinner. To cook the potato, simply poke the potato a few times with a fork before placing it in the microwave for about eight minutes. You can rub the potato with olive oil, salt, and pepper for added flavor before cooking if you like. Once the potato has cooked, cut it in half and use a fork to fluff the insides. You can then top it with any of your favorite toppings, including chives, cheese, bacon, or sour cream.
If you want to add a couple of bacon slices to your potato, these can be cooked in the microwave at the same time as the potato. You can crumble the bacon once it has cooled. If you want to melt some cheese on the potato, just sprinkle it on and pop the potato back in the microwave for 20 or 30 seconds.
It seems impossible that you could make shrimp tacos in the microwave, but steaming fish in the microwave actually works quite well. Start by mixing together olive oil, diced jalapeños or any of your other favorite peppers, and diced onion. Microwave this mixture for about four minutes, stirring halfway through. Add in corn and your favorite beans. You’ll want to cover the mixture with plastic wrap at this point. Microwave for another two minutes. Add in your peeled and deveined shrimp. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave for about three minutes. The shrimp will be tender and opaque when they’re done. Add the cooked shrimp, beans, and corn to tortillas. You can top the tacos with guacamole or salsa.
Quesadillas are versatile, quick, easy, and pack a lot of flavor. You can put nearly any ingredients you like into them, including veggies, chicken, shrimp, tofu, pork, or different cheeses. They’re also a great way to use up leftovers. To start the quesadilla, microwave one or two tortillas for about 30 seconds, until they’re just slightly crispy. Then, mix your ingredients together. If you’re using leftovers, just heat them through. If you need to cook your veggies, microwave them for a minute or two until they’re tender. Spread your ingredients evenly on the tortilla and cover everything with cheese. You can either place your ingredients over half the tortilla and fold the other half over or cover the entire tortilla and top it with another tortilla. Microwave for another minute or so, until the cheese melts and everything sticks together.
Scrambled Eggs with Veggies
Scrambled eggs are surprisingly easy to make in the microwave, and they’re an excellent choice for a healthy, protein-packed breakfast for dinner meal. Make the eggs by whisking together eggs, a couple of tablespoons of milk, and salt and pepper to taste in a microwave-safe bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, but leave one corner open so steam can escape. Cook the eggs on medium power for about a minute and a half. You can also add veggies such as spinach or broccoli to your scramble. You can cook the veggies with the eggs or cook them first and then whisk the raw eggs in. Crumbled bacon, pieces of sausage, or cheese are also excellent additions.
Fancy Mac ‘n’ Cheese
Mac ‘n’ cheese is the perfect satisfying, quick dinner, and it can be easy to jazz up the recipe by using quality cheeses, chives or other herbs, or a dash of hot sauce. To cook the pasta, add about half a cup to a microwave-safe bowl or mug. Add in an equal amount of water and season with salt before cooking for about two and a half minutes. Stir in about three tablespoons of milk and a quarter of a cup of your favorite cheese. Cheddar is the go-to cheese for this dish, but any cheese that melts well will work. You can even combine cheese for different flavors. Add salt and pepper as needed and microwave the mixture for another 30 seconds. You can garnish with fresh herbs or dab on some of your favorite hot sauce.
Although it might not seem like it, there’s pretty much nothing simpler than poaching salmon in the microwave. In a glass baking dish, spread thin pieces of lemon in an even layer. Top the lemon with salmon fillets, and season them with salt and pepper or any other herbs you like. Then add about a quarter of a cup of water to the baking dish. Cover the baking dish with plastic wrap and either leave a corner open or poke the wrap a few time to create vents. Microwave for about eight minutes, until the salmon is opaque. You can place the salmon on top of a quick salad for a light, elegant weeknight dinner.