Friday, June 21, 2024

Practically Living Green

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Making Your Own Microwave Meals to Live Green?

One of the reasons why I only take out the trash once per month is because I properly portion out the meals I eat. I do this by making my own microwave meals that are healthier and tastier than brand names.

Don’t get me wrong, I like Lean Cuisines. And that’s what gave me the idea to make my own.

Why Make Your Own Microwave Meals?

Walking through the freezer isle of Walmart, I can see how quick-serve meals are quite the prevalent industry. But, how much trash goes into making all of those foods?

Quite a bit, actually. You have plastic wrapping, plastic containers, cardboard packaging, and ink. And that’s not including the preservatives and such that go into every manufactured food stuff.

The practical reasons to make your own microwave meals consist of:

It Saves You Money

So, each Lean Cuisine costs about $2.50. Well, that’s what they cost at my local Walmart. Prices will vary depending on where you go shopping.

When I make Trader Joe’s Kung Pao Chicken and Chicken Fried Rice microwave meals, it costs me a total of $1.25 in foodstuffs to make. This is because of how I cook and portion out the food.

Just in Trader Joe’s alone, it’s costing me half the price of a Lean Cuisine. And I am getting something I love in the process. It’s even cheaper to make your own if you are a decent cook and can whip up more than macaroni and cheese.

One of my chicken dishes I make comes out to just over $0.50 in materials!

It’s Healthier in the Long Run

One thing I don’t have to worry about is preservatives. I suppose that depends on what I’m making at the time, though. But if I am just cooking up a 3oz chicken breast with sea salt potatoes, then there are less preserving chemicals in the meal.

Not to mention how I can add any amount of veggies and nutritional value to the microwave meals I create.

Since I take the time to measure out everything and count carbs and calories, I can fine-tune my meals to my specific nutritional needs. In reality, I am customizing my dining experience.

Less Trash to Throw Away

Since I’ve stopped buying microwave meals, I have far less trash throughout the week. All of the containers I have are reusable, and the only trash I throw out is the packaging when I cook in bulk.

And even most of that is recyclable.

Prevents You from Overeating

Since I am working on losing weight, I need to make sure I am not overeating. I portion out everything as perfect as I can to deliver enough food where I don’t feel like I’m starving, but I’m not gorging myself, either.

This is how I’ve lost 80 pounds and have kept it off over the last few years.

You Can Make Any Meal You Want

One of the things that drove me to make my own microwave meals is because I was tired of the same selections of Lean Cuisine. Some of them are my favorites, but I love being able to make what ever I want.

For instance, right now I have portions of chicken marsala from Costco that I combine with roasted garlic potatoes. In total, it comes out to around 270 calories for lunch, which is comparable to Lean Cuisine and Weight Watchers.

What Does it Take to Make Microwave Meals?

It’s not all that difficult to make your own microwave meals, actually. I suppose the most investment is going to be time. But, it’s worth every second if you could save money, lose weight, and eat healthier.

What’s involved with making custom microwave meals?

Cooking in Bulk

I say cooking in bulk because you want to be able to portion out as much as you can. The greater the quantity, the cheaper it becomes.

For instance, I portioned out six pounds of chicken into 19 three-ounce weighed portion sizes. This makes about a week and a half worth of meat if I eat chicken every day.

Taking Time to Portion Out the Microwave Meal

Perhaps one of the most important things about making your own meals is understanding portion control.

No, a 16oz steak is not a single serving. In fact, it’s close to three ounces. So, a 16oz steak is actually enough meat for just over five meals.

Luckily, most foods today come with suggested serving sizes and the nutritional value of each. Using these measurements, I ensure that my microwave meals range between 250 and 310 calories each, depending on what I’m cooking.

For example, I’ll combine a half-cup of Trader Joe’s Kung Pao Chicken with 2/3 cup of chicken fried rice to make a meal that is 235 calories. Sure, it also has 30g of carbs, but I make sure I’m active enough to burn it all.

Measuring Cups and a Scale

Measuring Cups and Scale

I have a Taylor scale on my counter and a series of measuring cups ready to portion out the food. You don’t need to go hog-wild and measure out everything to the precise gram, but I do.

That’s because I am a bit of a geek when it comes to numbers and data.

Being precise in measurements has helped me stave off the weight as well as starvation. But, measuring the food is ultimate up to you.

Containers for Freezer Storage

Next, you’ll need freezer and microwave-safe containers. I usually buy the BPA-free plastic containers on Amazon. Although Walmart does have something similar from Mainstays, they don’t work nearly as well and tend to warp in the dishwasher.

I’ve had the same stack of 12 containers from Amazon for three years. And they cost me less than $15, at least when I bought my stack.

Just make sure they are safe to microwave and can withstand the dishwasher. Sometimes it’s better to pay the extra few bucks to get high-quality food storage. Especially if it lasts you far longer than a cheaper brand.

Patience and Self-Control

And lastly, it takes patience and self-control to really get into making microwave meals. This is because it’ll be tempting to add a bit extra when portioning out the food.

It’s also going to take time in preparing your meals. Not only do you have to cook, but then measuring everything out correctly so you’re getting enough to eat without adding too much.

Microwave Meals are Better and Cheaper in the Long Run

In the end, it’s simply practical to make your own microwave meals, especially if you’re looking to lose weight and save money. Since creating my own, I’ve saved thousands of dollars over the last few years.

Plus, I get to eat what I want and not have to worry about what the brand whips together at a manufacturing plant.

Besides, I think my homemade spaghetti sauce is better than Lean Cuisine’s, anyway.

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Michael Brockbank

Michael has been interested in the practicality of living green for quite some time. He works closely with GreenGeeks Web Hosting as the Content Marketing Team Lead and an author of various articles.

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