10 ways to cook dinner in the microwave

Cooking in the microwave is quick, easy and, when you know how. Many of us are short on time, with different eating schedules to the rest of our household. Using our cheap recipes, you can make all of your favourite dishes in, normally, one container. Less mess and less stress.

Contrary to popular belief, the microwave also preserves more nutrients than traditional cooking methods such as boiling or roasting, thanks to the shorter cooking time.

Before you start cooking up a storm, pay attention to the strength and age of your microwave. The recipes below are tested in an 800W microwave. If your microwave is less powerful than this, you may need to cook the food for longer. If it’s more powerful, you will need to reduce the cooking time slightly or start checking your food earlier. Even the best microwaves can cook food unevenly, so ensure all your food is cooked through.

Microwave carbonara:

A super easy carbonara only made in the microwave! Perfect for last minute work lunches when you forgot to prepare ahead of time.

Recipe tested using a 800W microwave.

Ingredients

  • 65g/2¼oz smoked pancetta cubes
  • 75g/2½oz spaghetti or linguine, snapped in half
  • 1 tbsp grated Parmesan
  • 1 free-range egg
  • pinch salt
  • black pepper, to taste

Method

  1. Microwave the pancetta in a microwavable bowl for 2 minutes and set aside. The pancetta should have released its oils and started to brown.
  2. Snap the pasta in half, then place in a microwaveable container with the salt. Pour over boiling water until completely covered. Microwave for the cooking time suggested on the packet plus an extra 4 minutes. Stir every 2–3 minutes, breaking up any pasta that is sticking together. Add more boiling water if necessary.
  3. Meanwhile, stir the egg, Parmesan and black pepper into the pancetta until completely combined. When the pasta has cooked, stir in 1–2 tablespoons of the pasta cooking water. Drain the remaining pasta water.
  4. Tip the spaghetti into the egg mixture and stir well. Microwave for 30 seconds or until warmed through, but be careful not to overcook the eggs – you want a smooth sauce, not scrambled eggs. Stand in the microwave for 1 minute before eating.

Microwave jacket potatoes with various toppings: Jacket potatoes are a healthy and cheap meal and can be livened up with lots of different toppings. This recipe gives a choice of three toppings. Cooking them in the microwave speeds up the process considerably, but loses the crunchy jacket. By following the method below, the skin is kept dry which improves the texture when cooked.

Ingredients

For the jacket potato

  • 1 medium baking potato (about 180g/6oz)

For the leek, apple, cheese and bacon filling

  • ½ leek, sliced
  • black pepper
  • 15g/½oz reduced-fat cheddar cheese, grated
  • 15g/½oz cooked bacon or ham, chopped
  • 1 eating apple, roughly chopped

For the tuna and sweetcorn filling

  • 1 x 80g/2¾oz can tuna (in spring water), drained
  • ½ x 198g/7oz can sweetcorn, drained
  • 1 tbsp reduced-fat mayonnaise
  • black pepper

For the salmon and peas filling

  • 50g/1¾oz frozen peas
  • 1 x 80g/2¾oz can skinless and boneless salmon
  • 1 tbsp mayonnaise
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