Measuring Kitchen Problems: Which is Worse, X or Y? Today: Oatmeal Edition

Some people find making oatmeal on the stove a horrible burden. It dirties a pot and a spoon in addition to the bowl out of which the oatmeal is eventually eaten.

So God gave us microwavable oatmeal, which is prepared in the bowl out of which one will eat.

The problem of course is that at least 50% of the time, despite even sophisticated use of microwave settings, the microwaved oatmeal explodes out of the bowl. So you open the microwave and find that you have to clean not only the bowl out of which you will eat (which you were anticipating, that’s not an issue) but also the glass platter that spins around on the floor of the microwave and, more annoyingly than that, the walls and floor and ceiling of the microwave itself.

So wouldn’t it just be simpler to make the oatmeal in a nice, easily cleaned, enameled cast-iron pot on the stove? It’ll still take about two minutes to cook. And if you can’t stand guard and prevent it boiling it over, there’s something wrong with your morning schedule, as far as I’m concerned. You could multi-task if you had to: you could brush your teeth while you stirred the oatmeal, or set up the coffee, or drink your coffee, or tie your tie maybe (depending on how long it takes you to tie a tie; you do need to stir the oatmeal so you need one hand available), or stare dully at your phone thinking how much the world sucks (most likely activity to be engaged in while cooking oatmeal, according to an unscientific poll that was conducted solely in my head).

My point is, cooking quick oatmeal in a pot isn’t a big deal, and cleanup of the pot and bowl aren’t a big deal, but cleaning the inside of the microwave is a pain in the ass. So just use the pot.

I realize that microwave oatmeal is a big deal for a lot of people. But, like so many time-saving-in-the-kitchen enterprises, I cannot help but wonder: are we saving time on one end only to create more of a time-suck on the other end? Because the six minutes it takes to wash off the microwave turntable and wipe down the inside of the microwave is definitely more time than it takes to make oatmeal in a pot, transfer the oatmeal to a bowl, and then wash the dirtied pot.

Some day we will talk about microwave popcorn.

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