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Meal prepping means you have all these wonderful ready meals that you simply pop in the microwave to reheat and are ready to eat. Yet, what happens without a microwave to heat your food? Can you still meal prep? Sure! It’s just a matter of learning how to meal prep without a microwave.
How to Meal Prep Without a Microwave
Not having a microwave does not mean you must give up on meal prepping. There are multiple ways you can warm your food and enjoy your prepared dishes without needing a microwave.
You can create meals during your meal prep that you can eat cold or at room temperature. You can also use other means of warming food which include other appliances. A microwave is not the end all. There is no shortage of meal prep tips for any situation.
Whether you don’t have access to a microwave or prefer not to use one, you can still enjoy the convenience of meal prep, and I will tell you how.
7 Ways To Meal Prep When You Don’t Have A Microwave
Not everyone has the same appliances, nor does everyone have access to a microwave at all times. You may have one at home yet not at work or vice versa. People cook and eat differently, meaning creating meals is different.
It is unfortunate to assume that you can’t meal prep without a microwave because there won’t be any way to warm your food. There are several ways, many of which I use myself, albeit owning a microwave.
Use a Stove
The simplest method of reheating your food from meal prep is adding it to a pot and pan and warming it on the stove. Using a stove to heat food means your food will warm up more evenly and quickly, and it is slightly safer than a microwave.
I prefer warming food on the stove whenever I have soups, curries, stews, and other saucy or liquid-based meals. Depending on the portion, I use a saucepan or larger pots. I even warm up the rice by stir-frying it in a pan.
Pop Your Food in the Oven
Like a stove, the oven is a much better option for heating food than a microwave. You most likely have an oven in your home, even if you don’t have a microwave. An oven is a great way to warm whole meals and save yourself from washing dishes.
Many dishes can be packed into foil containers or in freezer-safe glass containers. This simplifies reheating because you can simply pop the meals in the oven without changing or using more dishes.
Get a Toaster Oven
If you took an oven and a toaster and made a baby, you would get a toaster oven. This is the second best appliance for convenience, next to a microwave. You can warm up foods, toast bread, and bake.
A toaster oven is a brilliant alternative to microwaves for meal prep, especially if you want to reheat small batches of food. It works like a microwave, and it is more energy efficient than a larger regular oven.
I received a toaster oven as a housewarming gift and called it an unwanted gift. Having a mini oven taking up space on my countertops was pointless when I had a larger oven. Realizing the convenience of how much quicker and easier it works for meal prep was life-changing.
Use a Crockpot
A crockpot is such an underrated food-warming appliance. Most people use a crockpot for slow-cooking food but don’t realize it can be used as a food warmer. Always check the instruction manual for how to use the warmer settings and how long it can remain on.
When using a crockpot, add your meal prep food to the pot, place it in the warm setting, and leave it for 12-24 hours (check the manual). You could heat the food quickly by placing it on the cook setting for an hour or two and then changing it to remain warm until serving time.
Steam the Food
Another fantastic way to heat your meal prep food is through steaming. You can do this using a particular steaming appliance or the double boiler method on the stove. This method is best for veggies, but using a bowl for a double boiler allows you to warm so much more, such as pasta, rice, soups, curries, and so much more.
Another lesser-known steaming method is using the hot water bowl technique. This means you fill a bowl with boiling water and place the food in another bowl inside the one with water. This helps warm up food.
The water in a bowl method won’t work as well to warm meat and extremely cold foods, but it is a great way to slightly warm up food when you don’t have a microwave.
Get an Air Fryer
An air fryer is the latest, most popular, and longest-running trend in kitchen gadgets. And it is such an effective and efficient appliance that can be used for unlimited types of food. You can heat all your meal prep food in an air fryer and cook things from scratch.
Everything can be made and reheated in the air fryer, from meat and veggies to pizzas, pies, and eggs. It is a great way to ensure your meal prep is healthy and a much more versatile and convenient appliance than a microwave.
My trick for heating food in an air fryer is using silicon liners. That way, I can reheat saucy foods and save myself the cleanup. It’s the perfect solution for meal prep.
Stick to Cold Foods
Aside from finding appliances and techniques to heat food from meal prep, there is always the option of creating cold food meal prep so that you don’t need a means of heating at all. Here are some ideas:
- Salads: Green salads are a great healthy meal prep idea. You can pre them in mason jars, ensuring the greens stay on the top to prevent sogginess.
- Cold stir-fries: Noodle, rice, or stir fry with or without meat is delicious. Portion the meal into your lunchbox, keep it in the fridge, and eat when desired.
- Pasta salads: Pasta salads are an excellent cold food carb option when you don’t have a microwave. They are yummy and filling; you can keep them in the fridge until you are ready to eat.
- Couscous/Quinoa salads: These are a fantastic option to meal prep and have a more filling, textured, and yet delicious cold salad that stays fresh longer than most other salads.
- Cold porridge: Porridge like oats is a fun meal prep idea. You can get creative with flavors and toppings and enjoy it cold if you make it ahead and refrigerate it. No need for a microwave.
- Yogurt parfaits: Like oats, you can get creative and have fun preparing some yogurt parfaits in jars for meal prep to enjoy any time of the day.
- Sandwiches: The easiest and simplest meal prep food that doesn’t require a microwave is sandwiches.
- Cut up veggies: Meal prep some veggies by cutting them as desired and storing them in the refrigerator. You won’t need a microwave, but you can enjoy them with a delicious dip of choice.
- Fruits and snacks: Cut up fruit and portion out your snacks. It is a brilliant way to meal prep, especially if you have to be away from home and don’t have access to a microwave.
Meal prepping without a microwave just became easier. Now you can make all your favorite foods and use one of the abovementioned ideas for reheating without a microwave. And don’t forget to prepare some yummy cold treats that don’t require a microwave.
Nathaniel Lee is an avid cook, drawing on his decades of home cooking and fine dining experience. He is a contributing chef at Mashed, and his recipes and contributions have been featured in Tasting Table, Edible Arrangements, Insanely Good Recipes, and The Daily Meal.