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"I believe in limited government, and the 20th century has been the century of government. The data is uniform. The government has failed at every single task it has set out to do, with the exception of waging war."
- Bart Kosko

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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