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Usability of Microwave Meals

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As an occasional eater of microwavable meals, I’ve noticed that they are becoming more and more difficult to use. It’s not that eating them is more difficult; that’s the same process it’s always been: use fork to cut and pick up food, lift fork to mouth, chew, swallow repeat. What’s more difficult is the preparation of the food.

First is the package. It seems the trend among food vendors is to place the cooking instructions on one of the side panels of the box, rather than on the back. This makes it difficult to read the directions, since you must find a way to balance the box on its end in order to read it hands free.

And the directions themselves are becoming more complicated. In order to cook the previously frozen meal that I’m currently eating, I had to peal back a corner of the cover, remove one of the items, cut a slit in the cover over another item and microwave for 3 minutes. Then I was instructed to peel back the rest of the cover, spoon the sauce over the food, replace the item I removed in step 1, replace the cover, and microwave at half power for four minutes. Finally, I was supposed to let the food stand for one minute before eating.

The maker of this product doesn’t seem to realize that I purchased a frozen meal because I didn’t want the hassle of following a recipe.

Sy
July 24, 2003 5:04 PM

The problem is, the more complex the microwave meal, the more you are actually completing a recipe, you just don't realise that you are. The only useability issues I have with microwave stuff is that sometimes you get a nice surprise. Half your meal is frozen and the rest enamel meltingly hot. I have prepared some pretty intense so-called 'convience' food, one that springs to mind is a 'Paella' in a cardboard box (desperation, or would have made own with fresh stuff). First had to create origami structure out of packaging, tear so much of the interior wrap away, cut vents into rice sack and then cook, adding water to seafood and rice trays, but not meat holder. Then, shake rice leave outside microwave, cook rest some more, then add rice again. Next step, juggle three burning hot bags of food in one hand and scissors to cut open in other. Conclusion: They make expensive microwave meal so hard to prepare you always enjoy, even if tasty or not in the end.

Brian Phelps, MI
October 9, 2003 9:13 AM

This is so true! However, people don't read, nor do I. So I just peal back a corner and throw it in for 2 minutes, then see how it is. If the companies that make frozen food put the instructions more clearly on the back, instead of the smaller sides, I doubt most people would even bother to read them. We don't have time to read, cook, etc... just have time to throw whatever in the microwave. Good points nontheless.

Dennis Blake
June 2, 2005 10:43 AM

There is a company in Iowa named Mac-B inc that has invented a microwavable process that is outstanding. There e-mail is mac-b@iowatelecom.net

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