I grew up eating stove top popcorn. No, not Jiffy Pop, real popcorn ... coat the bottom of a pot with oil, throw in a kernel of popcorn over med-high heat and wait for it to pop. Then pour in more kernels, cover the pot and shake (so the bottom doesn't burn) often until it's all popped. That's still my favorite popcorn, but I'll admit to caving to the convenience of the microwave stuff.
If you're looking for a healthier option - no oil, chemicals, etc., and one that's actually cheaper, you'll definitely want to give one of these methods a try.
If you ever wander on Pinterest, you've probably seen a bazillion posts about DIY microwave popcorn in a brown paper lunch bag. When I first saw that, I bought a package of lunch bags, but I figured with my luck, I'd just end up setting the microwave on fire, so the package had been sitting unopened for about a year in my pantry.
More recently, I came across a post on LifeHacker about making microwave popcorn in a microwave-safe bowl covered with a plate. Hmmm, that sounded less dangerous to me, so I gave it a shot. I had also read that steam helps popcorn pop fluffier, so I poured 1/3 c popcorn seeds into a 2 qt covered casserole dish, swished the seeds in 1t water and set them in the microwave to pop. I read that it would take about 2 minutes, but it took closer to 8 for me. I'm not sure if that was because of the thickness of my bowl or something else.
That worked out fine, so the next time, I tried using vanilla instead of water, to see if it would impart a hint of vanilla flavor, but that didn't seem to have any effect at all.
Having tried the bowl method, I felt a little more empowered to give the lunch bag method a shot. I used the same amount of seeds 1/3c, poured them into the bag and made a small tight fold at the top to seal it, then set the microwave on 3 minutes. I did not set the microwave on fire, and the bag was done before the three minutes were up.
The next time around, I wanted to try out the steam theory, so I poured a teaspoon of water into the bag with the seeds. All that served to do was pop a hole in the bottom of the bag. I wasn't expecting that from such a small amount of water, so I'm wondering if maybe I had a weak seam and just hadn't noticed. I'll give that another try.
I did find that there were fewer unpopped kernels and less time involved when using the lunch bag, so that's something to consider.
Whichever method you choose to try, just BE CAREFUL!! With the bowl method, you will want to make sure to use pot holders when removing it from the microwave, and with the lunch bag method, you don't want to leave the room in case it starts to burn - microwaves run differently, seeds vary, the quality of the paper bags can vary, etc. I was using a tiny white seed I had purchased at the local Amish market. Had I been using my usual Orville Redenbacher, it could have taken more or less time.
As for seasoning, sometimes I'll melt a little butter to pour over my popcorn, but a lot of times, I'll just sprinkle a little grated Parmesan over the top. I anticipate doing a lot more experimenting in the microwave now.
Happy Popping!! :)