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"I did more research, and realized I almost would rather be a biologist than a writer, because there was incredible stuff going on!"
- Greg Bear

Microwavable Food  
  Food that is prepared specifically for use in a microwave (high-frequency) oven.  

Theoretically every ration taken aboard a Patrol vessel is pre-cooked and ready for eating as soon as it is taken out of freeze and subjected to the number of seconds, plainly marked on the package, of high-frequency heating required.
From Space Cadet, by Robert Heinlein.
Published by Scribner's Sons in 1948
Additional resources -

The idea of using microwave radiation was patented by the end of 1946 by Raytheon; the first commercial microwave oven was introduced sometime in 1947. At almost six feet tall, 750 pounds and costing $5,000, it won few converts. It's not clear if it was offered as a consumer product, or to the food service industry.

Also, I believe that there were some canned soups that were available with self-heating bottoms in the 1930's. And packaged meals were certainly available in the form of military rations.

The first true heat-n-eat packaged meal was probably the Swanson TV Dinner, introduced in 1954. For 98 cents, you got an aluminum tray with roast turkey, stuffing and gravy, sweet potatoes and peas. I don't remember the cooking time, but it was at least thirty minutes in the oven. It wasn't until 1986 that Swanson introduced a plastic tray for microwave cooking. See the TV Dinner History page for references. Also, take a look at this history of the microwave oven - the Radarange; thanks to Doug for comments on this article.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Space Cadet
  More Ideas and Technology by Robert Heinlein
  Tech news articles related to Space Cadet
  Tech news articles related to works by Robert Heinlein

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