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microwave cooking at work!

Hi guys.
I've started eating pretty healthy now, but at work I tend to eat a bunch of fruit (bananas, clemantines, smoothies etc) and not much veg.

I've just realised, I can (for example) steam broccoli in the microwave downstairs. I assume I can do this in tupperware.

broccoli is nice, but obviously I can't just munch down on that. Is there someting I can stick in there with it?

I've made things like stew and chilli before, but sometimes it's nice to raid the fridge in the morning, grab some yoghurt, humus, fruit etc. Minimal preparation. If I cooked some chicken breast for example, could I reheat that in the microwave? I could always eat that cold obvs. How about rice? Reheating Or cooking?

I don't actually own a microwave, and haven't had one in the house for... 8 years? Never been a fan.

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  1. Yes you could reheat chicken breast in the microwave. I've found it works best to cover it with a paper towel though, so the steam stays in and keeps the chicken from getting too dry. It also works best if the chicken has some kind of sauce on it already, like pesto, or red sauce or something like that. Chicken is never as good reheated as it is freshly cooked, but it's still very edible.

    Rice is iffy with reheating. If you have some kind of sauce with it it's fine, but if it's plain, it's harder to do, but if you do it, do it with the paper towel over it. I believe they also sell bowls of pre-cooked brown rice that are meant for the microwave. I've bought them in the past at Trader Joe's and Costco but I'm guessing they're available in other stores too.

    For your broccoli, what about bringing along some pre-cooked pasta? You could keep it really simple and have it with a vinaigrette dressing of some kind.

    I actually always make extra of any meal I make, and put it in portioned containers after I make it, that way I have grab and go lunches for the next day. The only thing I have not successfully reheated is pork chops, so I don't make extra of those. Oh and some veggies don't reheat well, like snow peas. They just get slimy.

    4 Replies
    1. re: juliejulez

      I have had no problem reheating frozen or refrigerated rice. I put in a bowl, sprinkle a bit of water or broth over, cover, and nuke.

      1. re: tcamp

        Oh I've never tried adding a bit of extra water, I will have to try that sometime. My office doesn't have a sink (we're supposed to be getting one but who knows when that'll be) so often the idea of using water doesn't pop in my head... even though we have plenty of bottled water Thanks!

        1. re: juliejulez

          I was about to say the same thing about water. Sprinkle some on the rice and it reheats with no problems.

          1. re: valerie

            +1 to this. Add a tiny bit of water.

    2. I bring my lunch to work most days. Typically, I bring leftovers. Say, a piece of chicken, rice, and some veg. I usually put it all together in one container and then either reheat or, more often, just eat it at room temp. The only thing I must have HOT is soup.

      If you want to grab and go, keep cut up veggies in the fridge and maybe make some easy sauces in advance. Sometimes I use salad dressing to pour over grain and/or steamed veggies, other times mix some prepared Chili/black bean sauce with some liquid and use that as a sauce.

      1. You can make polenta in the microwave in 12 minutes. You can make risotto in the microwave in about 20 minutes.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Antilope

          I don't think his coworkers would be too pleased if he tied up the microwave for 20 minutes to make risotto.

          I like bringing baked potatoes to work. I bake them the night before and split them in half and put them in a microwavable glass container. I put my veggies on top of the potato (broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, aspragus, whatever), any meat (leftover chicken or chopped ham usually) and add a little shredded cheese. Separately, I pack some RF sour cream and chopped green onions. When it's time for lunch, I add a teaspoon or so of water to my potato, and heat it, covered, for 3 minutes. The veggies steam up perfectly. Then I top with the sour cream, salt/pepper and the green onions. Filling and healthy.

          1. re: boogiebaby

            This is a great idea! Sometimes I don't have leftovers and end up eating frozen meals, which my body hates. I like this idea much better.

            1. re: boogiebaby

              I love that idea. And if I make that for my bf's lunch I could make it guy friendly and add chili and cheese. He would love that

          2. i suggest that you follow what the others said about packing leftovers. My bf gets a lunchbox every day. And if its something that he doesn't like reheated like fish I pull a lunchbox from the freezer from another dinner.

            1. All summer I worked from 2 til 10, so I had to find meals to eat for supper that would re-heat with ease in a microwave.

              I found pasta with sauces re-heated well, as did a variety of rice dishes. Just remember to heat them up thoroughly.

              The broccoli would be nice tossed in a little soy and sesame oil, perhaps with a little grating of fresh ginger in the too. You could prepare the sauce at home in a couple minutes. I would add a little rice to bulk it up some too.

              1. I reheat my lunches in the micro at work all the time. I have invested in glassware to pack my reheat items in. I also have a small plate, bowl, and my own silverware at work. I just don't like to reheat in plastic.

                That said, I also love to steam my veggies. One of my favorites is sliced summer squash, throw in some cherry tomatoes, thyme, s and p. You can do this the night before and cover with plastic wrap before putting the lid on. The plastic wrap will let the steam build up. Add a protein and your good to go.

                Another one of my favs is to stuff a baked sweet potato with anything I have in the fridge (left over veg, chunks of chicken, a couple of spoonfuls of leftover chili) and top with greek yogurt. Yum!

                My best advise of all is to prepare the night/day before. Then it's ready to go with no excuses in the morning!

                1. Soop - if you work alone then please ignore my take on this. But if you work with others and share a break room/microwave please take notice. I just steamed broccoli with homemade cheese sauce and that broccoli really stinks. And that's my house. I would Never subject my coworkers to the smell. Also, imo the office microwave is for heating up leftovers or maybe a Marie Callenders dinner. That type of thing. To cook an entire meal or part of is poor form.

                  12 Replies
                  1. re: miss_belle

                    I steam broccoli all the time at home and I never have a bad smell from it. Perhaps it was the cheese sauce in your case.

                    1. re: juliejulez

                      The problem is Not with the cheese sauce. Broccoli stinks. Good grief..can't believe you even said that.

                      1. re: miss_belle

                        You would prefer to smell reheated Marie Calendars over broccoli? Maybe the dining area at your office is too small and stuffy but I've never had an issue with people microwaving broccoli (or anything else for that matter) at work.

                        1. re: darrentran87

                          I'm not going to argue with you people who do this ok

                        2. re: miss_belle

                          As I said, I never get a smell from steaming broccoli, and I'm usually very smell sensitive. Sounds like your experience has been different than mine, which happens often. I'm sorry you're getting so upset over it. Relax, it's just food :)

                          1. re: juliejulez

                            I'm not the least upset over the subject.:-) But the smell of broccoli is bad.and I will just leave it at that .-:)

                        3. re: juliejulez

                          +1. I microwave broccoli at home and at work and we have several people who bring it to work to heat up besides me. I have never noticed a foul smell from it.

                          Fish on the other hand, is a different story. There should be a rule about not heating up fish and seafood in a communal microwave.

                          1. re: boogiebaby

                            +99. Once worked with some ladies who brought ultra smelly fish dishes every single day for lunch, and their group liked to eat early. Which meant that Every Single Day, I tried to zap my plain ole' soup in a smelly microwave. So, OP, whatever you heat, please be courteous and either leave the door open to air out, or wipe it out w/ a quick baking soda/water swipe.

                            1. re: boogiebaby

                              I feel like we could have worked at the same place! Every day, lots of smelly fish in the microwave. It's just the worst smell. Microwaves and fish are not friends.

                            2. re: juliejulez

                              I've actually had plenty of "aromatic" broccoli -- the smell can be more impressive when it's older or more finely cut up (more surface area I guess). Have smelled it at home and at work; one time especially years ago, was visiting my husband at his job and I came around the corner saying "Auugghhh what's that SMELLLL?" -- only to find my husband and his colleague, who'd just nuked a huge plate of brox lol.

                              Edited to add: But everyone's experience is different and it's hard to judge tone on the internet -- this is probably not something worth getting upset over. Just my 0.02.

                            3. re: miss_belle

                              We had a former employee at my office who steamed broccoli every day in the office microwave. The powers that be finally told her to stop, because it stank up the entire office.

                            4. You can warm up all sorts of leftovers in a microwave. Both my husband and I regularly bring leftovers for lunch. Dishes brought this week included chicken lad nar ( left over from a restaurant, not home cooked), beef stew, chicken curry with rice, and beef vegetable soup. Definitely cover when heating but make sure there is some gap to allow steam to escape. You may need to stir after a few minutes and heat some more, as the microwave heats food on the perimeter more rapidly than that in the center of the container. We've found that our food waste has really dropped as we rarely throw out leftovers, we eat way better than we did when we bought lunch, and, of course we save money.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: masha

                                Agreed times 1000. Not for me but for my bf. I send him a lunch and drink and he saves at least fifty dollars a week between not getting takeout/vending machine drinks. Tomorrow is cottage pie from the freezer as I am serving leftovers from a big a$$ ham I got on a great sale.

                                1. re: suzigirl

                                  I wish my fiancé would let me pack his lunch. He insists on eating out every day and then for most lunches and dinners on the weekend. I think eats a total of 6 meals at home per week. He would save a ton of money if he would take leftovers. Unfortunately the couple time i have done it he has either forgotten his lunch in the fridge or eaten it AND bought lunch.

                                  1. re: melpy

                                    I was lucky that my boyfriend was thrilled when i suggested packed lunches. He has a couple of Co workers that ask every day what he has for lunch.

                              2. We have a toaster oven at work in addition to the microwave. Oh, also a 65 inch Panasonic plasma and Direct TV.

                                2 Replies
                                  1. re: pine time

                                    Yes, but you won't get rich since it's retail at a mega electronics/computer place. We also have a mega gas grill for periodic cookouts for good performance and holidays. Usually steaks, burgers, chicken, and dogs. I like the hot dogs.

                                1. You can heat just about anything in a microwave --it's all a matter of being careful with the heat.

                                  In an office setting, however, be very careful of how much time you're taking of the office microwave -- others want to heat up their lunches, too, so I'd avoid full-on cooking of pretty much anything but vegetables (5 minutes or less) --

                                  And do be mindful of how your dish smells -- there was a huge long thread a few months ago about working with people who heat up really stinky food and smell up the whole office. I sympathised with that one -- I used to work with a wonderful person who microwaved the most vile-smelling fish.

                                  1. Hey, thanks for all the replies guys! I'd agree 5 minutes is long enough. We have 2 microwaves in a communal eating/break space, but I tend to eat those meals later anyway, as there tends to be a rush early on.

                                    I'm gonna make up a bunch of salad too, though it doesn't really fill me up, and I'll have a look at micro friendly veg - maybe some asparagus.

                                    5 Replies
                                    1. re: Soop

                                      My sister makes salads in jars, layer the hard veggies, meats, then dressing, lettuce on top. Then dump on a plate/bowl, and the veggies/meat/dressing is on top. Here are some images:

                                      1. re: wyogal

                                        ooh, pretty!

                                        (but how that coconut cake ended up in the middle of all those salads is beyond me....)

                                        1. re: sunshine842

                                          Apparently, it is a review of a cake from the blog or website: Salad in a Jar.
                                          I saw the pic of the shrimp, too!
                                          My sister makes these jarred salads, Sunday night, for the work week. They stay fresh and nice in the fridge all week.

                                          1. re: wyogal

                                            I just thought it was funny -- salad, salad, salad, CAKE, salad, salad, salad

                                            which, come to think of it, pretty accurately describes just about every diet I have ever been on.

                                      2. You can reheat just about anything in the microwave. Don't use regular t-ware, unless it is O.K. for the microwave. I prefer small glass storage containers (the ones with the red lids).
                                        Just make sure you cover whatever you are cooking so as to not make a mess in the community microwave.
                                        So, whatever your tastes are...

                                        1. To mix up your fruit intake, you can always microwave apple slices/chunks that are tossed with a little cinnamon and allspice. People can't believe how good it smells. I have a personal microwave in my office, and people passing by will stick their heads in and ask what it is. :)

                                          As far as vegetables, most are probably going to produce some kind of smell when microwaved that isn't totally pleasant. I might also bring in a raw scrubbed potato as a base for my meal (pour on heated chili, melt some cheese and toss on pre-cooked brocoli, etc.)

                                          Other than that, what I tend to do is either bring salads, or toss raw or blanched vegetables into dishes in advance or on site. For example, I will bring in cold sesame noodles (can have bits of tofu or meat in it), and then toss them with coleslaw mix, grated carrots, blanched green beans or snow peas, chopped scallions, pepper strips, etc. Or do the same with whole wheat couscous salad, quinoa salad, etc. Other toss-in, depending on cuisine, can include:
                                          -roasted peppers
                                          -pickled vegetables (zucchini, okra, onions, etc.)
                                          -raw spinach (which, incidentally, steams up beautifully in the microwave too!)
                                          -zucchini or summer squash slices
                                          -homemade marinated beets
                                          -mushroom slices
                                          -halved tomatoes (sometime marinated)
                                          -marinated bean salads (chickpeas, black bean, white bean, etc.)

                                          And maybe this sounds too obvious, but a big batch of vegetable soup is perfect to bring to work for a quick meal or even a substantial snack.

                                          One side point..... it depends on what your viewpoint is on microwaving plastic, but I tend to avoid it if possible, especially if there's any oil or fat in what I'm cooking/heating. If you're steaming in the microwave, I'd suggest using a microwave-safe plate or Pyrex.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: 4Snisl

                                            You've got some great ideas there. I love the apples idea.

                                            I've also just realised, it's probably quite easy to make my own fajitas with steamed peppers and onions, and some Quorn roast-chicken things which I'm currently dipping in houmous.

                                          2. we tend to cook large batches of soup, casserole, pasta, what have you on the weekends and use the leftovers for lunches at work. I find that a splash of chicken broth in the container with the leftovers helps keep things like rice, chicken or pork from drying out as they are reheated.
                                            I also steam or roast batches of veggies and bring containers of leftovers to reheat (or eat cold) to avoid too many "cooking smells" in our common area.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: jujuthomas

                                              The chicken broth is a great idea. Thanks!