I abandoned the microwave and haven't looked back

Updated Oct 12 2015
There was a microwave here. It's gone now. …And it leaves so much space for fruit!
There was a microwave here. It's gone now. …And it leaves so much space for fruit!

A few years ago I was watching an episode of one of Jamie Oliver's cooking shows. He noted, with an air of superiority, that he doesn't even own a microwave. I remember thinking that he was a) wrong, and b) preachy. But the idea of having my shit so damn together that I didn't need the convenience of a microwave stuck with me.

About two months ago, I had the chance to test myself — to channel my inner Naked Chef — and live without a microwave. I don't mean roughing it in the wild without one; I mean living at home as usual, but removing that convenience that I used nearly daily. I'm proud to say, maybe with that same air of superiority, that I haven't looked back.

My partner left for work in another town for two weeks. I unplugged the microwave and put it in the closet. Here are the pros I learned about living without a microwave:

More counter space

Microwaves are big and ugly. They take up a lot of space and they don't look cute doing it. Once I removed the microwave from our counter, everything felt less cluttered — cause it was. This was important because of the next point…

It encourages better cooking

Microwaves are convenient because you can cook convenience food in them. Think about what you've used your microwave for in the past month; I bet there are far fewer instances of "to steam vegetables" on your list than "to melt cheese." And now that I had more counter space, I was more inclined to make elaborate and healthy meals — even just for myself.

It discourages eating out of boredom

A handful of times over the two weeks I was alone, I got bored enough to walk into the kitchen and open the fridge. When I remembered that in order to make a snack I'd have to fire up the oven or stove and wait longer, I said "Whoa eff that," and shut the door. Laziness trumps boredom.

Food tastes better when it's not made in a microwave

This is why Jamie Oliver avoids them. Microwaved leftovers or meals just don't have the same flavour as food made on the stove, in the oven, on the BBQ, etc. Take my word for it and try heating up leftover pizza in the oven instead of the microwave. Thank me later.

Microwaves could give you cancer or extra limbs or something

I'm totally kidding, of course. But I had a friend whose mom wouldn't let her anywhere near the kitchen if the microwave was going for fear she might turn into the Hulk or something. You may think they're safe, but the Hulk's life is a lonely one, so why take that chance? (Hahahaha just kidding just kidding.)

Why not just test it out? Unplug the microwave and put it in the closet for two weeks. Or, if you already live sans microwave, let us know what pros you'd add to this list.

  1. I ditched my microwave when i moved last, 5 years ago. I have never missed it. Even when I had one I barely used it, and it took up *so much space* in my tiny kitchen.

    I think people just *assume* they need one – like a stove or a fridge. You really don't.

    Other benefits – you *can't* buy prepackaged microwavable meals, so you don't, and one less thing to clean!

    Full disclosure though: we DO have a microwave at work, and being as I bring my own lunch (usually leftovers from dinner the night before) i do end up using one there – as there is no stove and oven alternative.

  2. even though i live with one, for the past several years the only thing my microwave gets used for is heating up my heating pad.

    • Yea, heating pad and defrosting hamburger rolls (there's just the two of us so there are more rolls in a package than we can use before they mold) are all I use my microwave for at all.

    • Oh I was so inspired by this article to have the Talk with my partner again… but minus-forty temps in the winter mean I NEED my heating pads. Forgot about that πŸ™

      • I lived without a microwave for 3 years… What about electric heating pads? A hot water bottle? A oven baked potato or brick? I do love my microwaved rice bags though? πŸ™‚

        • Seconding the hot water bottle. If you don't have an actual rubbery bottle hot water bottle use my method. Grab a 2 litre pop bottle, turn the tap on full hot and wait until it's steamy, carefully fill the bottle, cap it tight and wrap in a thin blanket. Super easy, cheap, and works wonders. If you keep the bottle under the covers with you at night it will still be warm in the morning. Good for cold feet, cramps, stiff muscles, and general cuddling. P.S. NEVER drink anything from that plastic bottle again. The heat causes stuff to leech into the water from the bottle. I keep a 2 litre bottle around just for my period cramps and bad foot circulation.

  3. I don't know WHAT I would do without my microwave. That guy I married and I make just about every meal in that thing. Including the ever controversial heating up water for tea! I seriously think we'd starve to death without it. πŸ˜‰

      • No shame! Sure, tea tastes better from water boiled in a kettle, but that doesn't mean we should be ashamed when we need our tea fix RIGHT NOW. Take pride in your need for tea!
        Plus, my dad is always turning off the burner when I put a kettle on. Drives me buggy, but I'm sure it drives him buggy that (he thinks) I forgot to turn the stove off.

          • Holy poop Megan that is seriously the most awesome kettle I've ever seen! I'm a total tea nut, I used to work for an awesome Aussie tea company called T2 and I nearly DIED when you said you used the microwave. I have just created a birthday wish list just so I can put the kettle on it. Here's hoping that amazon will ship it to Aus!

        • Being from the UK I always found it alarming how hard it was to find electric kettles that weren't super expensive in Europe. I didn't realise they weren't a world-over thing. I literally wouldn't even know how to boil water in a microwave!

          My microwave is one of the only-used-for-heat-pads types, but at my boyfriend's house their oven is used as a cupboard for pots and pans and they have one of those giant convection oven microwave things. It's super weird. I mean, how do you roast a piece of meat and some potatoes at the same time?!

          • I have no idea what you mean with "Europe", here, but in Germany, you will find Wasserkocher (water boilers) in every supermarket for around 10€.

    • I have noticed no difference between water heated in a kettle versus water heated in the microwave. I mean, the water gets hot either way?
      I have seen people microwave their tea bag with their water in the microwave, and that confuses me. The tea is already roasted, why cook it more before tossing it in water to steep?

      • As a British person this entire thread makes me want to sit you all down and make you a proper cup of tea. With an electic kettle. And a teapot. And bone china mugs.

        • Yes! It baffles me how anyone can live without an electric kettle. I need to boil water several times a day for tea, coffee, pasta, vegetables, rice, stock etc. It is used more than any other kitchen appliance. I never owned a microwave, but when the flat I rented had one it was only ever used for making porridge, melting chocolate or butter for baking, or heating up leftovers. All of which can be done on the hob or in the oven, though it takes longer.

          And yes, I also have four teapots, two cosies, and an extensive collection of vintage cups, saucers, milk jugs and sugar bowls. And I always put the milk in first. Because I am not an animal.

          • Seriously, putting the milk in first is a thing? Man, I thought I was so sophisticated in my tea-making… it appears I still have much to learn.

          • The milk first thing is totally silly and an example of the British (especially the middle classes) being so easily worried about literally everything.

            According to various sources you should put milk in first because:
            1. Tea first could crack fine china cups
            2. Tea first will stain fine china
            3. Milk first ensures more even distribution of butterfat
            4. Milk first allows the temperature of the milk to rise slightly more slowly preventing excessive denaturing and tanning of the milk and giving a richer tasting, less bitter cup of tea.
            5. Milk first ensures that errant tea leaves sink to the bottom more quickly.

            On the other hand, you should put tea in first because:
            1. Only the middle classes put milk in first
            2. Only poor quality fine china will crack
            3. Tea first lessens the possibility of accidentally adding too much milk

            Of course, this only makes sense if you are using a pot (which you should always warm first), most people (even the English!) will use a tea bag in a mug if they're just making one cup. In which case obviously you need to add the milk after the tea has brewed. My husband adds milk, water and teabag to the mug all at the same time, which totally wigs me out. Personally I add milk first because I don't take sugar, so adding milk first does away with the need to stir my cup and reduces the washing up a fraction.

          • Coming from ordinary peasant stock (plus one delightfully romantic Lady of the House, who ran off with the gardener…) I make my tea in a stoneware mug and always add the milk after.
            I'm not enough of a peasant to make it in the microwave though. πŸ˜‰

            I'm currently microwave-less, because I let the smoke out of my last one, and while I can certainly manage without too much trouble I would rather have one. Heating things on the stove does create more dishes, and I'm not very good at dishes. Also, I have bipolar disorder (and ADD) and, while I'm ridiculously sensitive to blood-sugar levels, I'm very bad about forgetting to eat – so I'll suddenly be standing in my kitchen at 4 in the afternoon realizing that I haven't eaten all day, and have to eat NOW but can't quite manage cooking. At which point, chucking a potato in the microwave for 5 minutes – or even something prepackaged and frozen – is better than a handful of cookies-or-cake.

  4. I've lived without one before, and it's really no big deal. The only bad thing aobut NOT haivg one is that using a microwave is more energy efficient than an electric stovetop or oven. So, I often will partially cook something in the microwave like potatoes, then toss them in a pan or in the oven to save on electricity and time. It's mounted above the stove, so it's not really taking up noticable space either. Also, I pretty much have a rule about turing on the oven in the summer time. If it's on it had better be for just a short period of time.

    • Yep, I agree: partly cooking potatoes in the microwave then baking them in the oven (or the toaster oven) saves lots of time, as well as energy. That's what we do around here, and it would be annoying to have to wait a whole hour for baked potatoes instead of 20 minutes.

      • What is this "part microwave/part oven" method for potatoes you speak of? I'm the person putting the potatoes in the oven for an hour, so if you can save me some time, I'd love you forever.

        • Prep your potatoes (make sure you poke them!!!) put in the microwave for awhile 5 minutes maybe to start. I do mine till they just start to soften. Then place in the oven to finish them off. Ta-da! πŸ™‚

        • I agree with the above directions, but here are some more details:

          I wrap the potatoes in paper towel when microwaving them. I microwave them for 3 minutes to start, then flip them over and add another 1.5-2 minutes.

          For the oven part, I usually put them in the oven for 15-20 minutes at 350.

  5. My gf has used her microwave about once in the past year, so I'll go from that perspective. I rarely use mine either, now. The most important thing is that food (re)heats EVENLY, and it's much much more delicious. (I think that needs more attention in the article.)

    Oh, and I really don't eat convenience food anymore, and I'm happier because of it. (Not saying you'd automatically be–not everyone gains a gf who loves to cook when they give up their microwave.)

  6. We moved a year ago, and didn't have room for a microwave in our tiny kitchen, so we got rid of it! I do feel a little pride that we don't have one anymore, my mom is still shocked that we can live without a microwave. But you can reheat things in a pan, I can melt butter in a pan, defrost meat in cold water, and I have a popcorn popper, so we really find we don't miss it much. I do miss it for steaming veggies occasionally, or for the butter melting (or softening, when I don't plan ahead), and especially for quickly defrosting meat, but overall I feel more resourceful and happy to not have a microwave.

    • I find it easier and more tasty steaming veges on the stove top! I just put a tiny bit of water in the bottom of a pot, put the veges in our metal sieve and rest it on the top, lid of pot resting over that. Green beans and broccoli done in like 3 mins! YUM! (and nice and crisp still!)

    • Butter can be softened by rolling it between waxed paper, or grating it! I'm terrible for forgetting to take it out of the fridge.

      • I am going to have to remember the grating butter thing for the next time i need to make icing and forgot to get a 1lb block of butter out of the chest freezer in the basement… those things take forever to thaw…

  7. For a month or two during our me last college summer, we lived without a microwave. I'll tell ya, we did miss the ease of popcorn, but the Hot Pockets tasted waaaay better.

    We kept a skillet on the stove almost constantly (a quick dish-rag cleaning after use since we also didn't have a dishwasher) because we used it so often.

    And I agree about the pizza reheated in the oven. So much better. In fact, now I only like Pizza Hut pizza on the second day – way better after being oven re-heated!

  8. I was without a microwave for a couple of months after moving a few years back, and I realized just how much I used it. I MISSED it! I certainly use mine to steam veggies and defrost meat, but I know how to do that the conventional way. What I DON'T know is how to reheat cooked food (from fridge or freezer) without a microwave. That's what I use it for most often, because we have a household of 2 and I cook a lot of meals (like casseroles, stews, and the like) for the freezer and save time later by reheating portions after work. Any tips for doing that with a stove or oven instead of a microwave?

    • I've re-heated levtovers in a pan on the stove. It's not too hard, but sometimes you might have to add a bit of water so it doesn't dry out sauces or rice etc. Also, if you have a non-stick pan that helps. It takes longer, because you use a low setting. I think I've even heated up leftover pizza in a pan on the stove. I just put the cover on to trap the heat better.

    • I do something similar, where I only cook 1-2 times a week and heat up leftovers from the fridge for dinners the rest of the week. I think the microwave is best for daal, casseroles, and pasta dishes, etc because it's more energy efficient. (This might depend on your exact microwave and stove, so if anyone has a link to those comparisons, please share.)
      Pizza or breaded things are best in the oven, as I'm sure you will agree. I think the oven dries out meat (but I only eat fish) when you try to reheat it. But for a large quantity of soup that I made in my giant soup pot, I'm not sure what the best way is. Using a smaller pot to warm up 2 portions makes an extra dish to wash, but heating it up in the bowls you use to eat in the microwave doesn't!

    • My oven does wonders for leftovers. Some tips:

      Invest in some oven safe dishes. It makes it much easier to heat it and eat it straight from the oven that way. Make sure to protect your surface with a trivet, and don't touch the sides of the plate.

      Anything with rice needs a bit of a water so it doesn't get crunchy.

      Cut the larger pieces (like casserole or lasagna) down into smaller pieces for even heating.

      Now I am getting hungry for leftover chicken tikka masala in the oven.

    • Yeah, that would be my issue as well. We make most of our meals over the weekend, when we have time, and reheat as needed for dinner.

      We were microwave-less for a few days last year when we thought it had finally died for good. It resurrected itself, but I used the time to make a list of activities we use it for (heating pad, morning oatmeal, etc.). I don't think living microwave-free would be extravagantly difficult for us, but for those few things, it's really helpful.

    • I lived with my grandmother after high school for a couple years. Things i learned from her living without a microwave:

      Non-stick skillets and pots with lids can reheat many things – just think low heat. Any soup can be tossed in a pot on low to reheat you just may need to add a little extra water or milk to thin it out. Chili goes right into a pot, nothing added. Pizza can heat in a skillet or griddle, same with hamburgers.
      Leftover plain pastas can be tossed into hot/boiling water for a minute to heat it back up.
      For oven reheating, aluminum foil and low heat are your best friends. You can make up whole meal packets from leftovers and just toss them onto the rack to heat up (then you don't have a thousand pots and pans for a reheated meal, too!). Foil packets work great for lasagne and tuna casserole — and its awesome for Thanksgiving leftovers if you have multiple people so that you're not all standing in front of the microwave waiting for your turn for dinner…
      Meats can be difficult, but if it was originally made in a sauce it'll usually retain some moisture just remember to go slow and cut it into small pieces to heat more evenly faster.
      Sturdy metal measuring cups can usually be used stove top for melting butter or heating a bit of milk for a recipe.

      The best thing is to just give a method a try and if it doesn't work, try a different way.

  9. We're 10 years into our no-microwave streak. Truly the only time I think about it is when guests show up with food, ie potluck type stuff, and ask if they can put it in the microwave.

  10. My girlfriend weaned me off the microwave and onto the toaster oven. I still use my microwave occasionally to steam vegetables, but the toaster oven can also melt cheese, reheat leftovers, and do all sorts of fun stuff.

    Also, new microwave: $200. New toaster oven: $35. 'NUFF SAID.

    • Oh my god, I would DIE without my toaster oven. Seriously. I would forgo any and all kitchen appliances before I'd give up my toaster oven.

      • I bought one recently for like $80 at Target. There's also always Craigslist and FreeCycle, whether you're looking for a microwave or anything else! πŸ™‚

    • Leftover pizza in the toaster oven is the best!

      If you want to get rid of your microwave altogether, rice cookers are good at steaming vegetables. I hear they're good with rice, too. πŸ˜‰

    • Yes!!! Toaster oven! I was wondering when somebody was going to mention it. We don't have a microwave anymore either, and thought about getting one for our new place, but I don't think I want to take up the counter space. Leftovers in the toaster oven are great! Especially pizza. I even make single-serve apple crisp in the toaster oven. So good.

  11. Oh microwaves. I have been without one for 5 years.
    I only miss the convenience of microwave pop corn. Mmmm, but then I discovered full of fat jiffy pop and I will never look back.

  12. Microwave free since 1997!
    It's funny how many people insist on getting me a microwave. I have to be REALLY forceful in turning them down. I like my counterspace, and cooking's not hard.

    • man. our microwave *caught fire and died* a few months ago. i was excited to use the opportunity to see how microwave-free living would work for us.

      then the in-laws found out. four hours after the incident we had a new microwave. my wife at least managed to argue them down to the smallest, simplest model in the store.

      • My microwave died a few years ago and I happened to mention it to someone. When my birthday rolled around a few weeks later, boom! BIG new microwave with a bow on it. Even though I was doing fine without one I didn't want to be rude and thought, "Well, maybe I'll use it if I have it." Not really. Gets used maybe once per week for softening / melting butter.

      • I just had this image of you and your spouse hastily digging the microwave out of the garbage, putting it on the counter, and showing your in-laws "Oh yeah, this baby still works! Yup! Good as ever" and then just doing that every time they come by.

    • People are the same way with TVs with me. I have been given 3 TVs even though I always insist the reason I don't have one is because I don't want or need one. And those 3 are just the ones that have managed to surprise me by dumping one on me. Dozens of other attempts have been successfully thwarted. There's one sitting unplugged on my bedroom floor right now. =(

  13. I lived without a microwave for a few years and honestly never missed it. I have one now and I use it for getting the chill off the cat food, reheating the occasional leftover, or quickly softening butter… but I found that certain things I really enjoy doing the "old fashioned" way and I maintain those habits. Making popcorn on the stove is way more fun than watching the bag slowly inflate and crispy leftover pizza in the toaster oven is far superior to soggy microwaved pizza. Plus, we cook a lot from scratch and find that the microwave isn't really needed in most real cooking situations anyway.

  14. When we bought our tiny little house I put my foot down about having a microwave taking up space in our micro kitchen. My husband wants one to heat up coffee.
    We have been here for almost two years without a microwave and I don't miss it one bit. He complains once on a while that he misses it, but a huge appliance to heat up coffee? NO.( insert pic of Grumpy Cat.)
    A toaster oven makes up for some of the reheating of things without using a huge stove and most people will have a toaster anyway just get a small toaster oven instead. We have oven proof glass storage containers that can go from the fridge to the toaster oven that takes care of how to heat up leftovers.
    We don't eat prepackaged foods anyway so living without a microwave is easy for us, even if Trent still wants one for his coffee.

    • You should never use a microwave to reheat coffee! It causes some of the chemicals/oils to break down and taste awful. You're better off without it!

      • My husband is too lazy to reheat coffee on the stove so he has learned to drink it cold or make more.

      • Occasionally (and I know this is horrible because I am a complete coffee snob) I really just need one cup right away before I head out the door (to work, where I will inevitably make coffee… I might have a coffee problem). I am absolutely aware that the microwave does nothing for the taste, but the placebo effect of having a cup first thing in the morning outweighs that.

        • I'm a coffee snob too, and I do re-heat mine on the stove top if I'm not lazy… but I keep some instant coffee (gasp!) for those days when all I can manage to do is boil water. When cleaning out the french press is not appealing. I don't tell a lot of people this… it doesn't taste very good, but it's a NEED.

    • Those thermal carafe coffee pots are a godsend. Mine keeps coffee hot for about 8 hours.
      Otherwise, you could use one of those "one cup" style coffee makers, so the coffee is always fresh.

  15. I have not owned a microwave for several years now – and my mother, bless her heart, keeps trying to give me one. She'll be like "you really need a microwave *mother-knows-best-frown*" and I will reply "NO. DO NOT GET ME A MICROWAVE. I DO NOT WANT ONE. I REPEAT. NO MICROWAVES. THANK YOU BUT NO." Once you figure out you don't need one, they just become this big, ugly thing … taking up space.

  16. I have not owned a microwave for several years now – and my mother, bless her heart, keeps trying to give me one. She'll be like "you really need a microwave *mother-knows-best-frown*" and I will reply "NO. DO NOT GET ME A MICROWAVE. I DO NOT WANT ONE. I REPEAT. NO MICROWAVES. THANK YOU BUT NO." Once you figure out you don't need one, they just become this big, ugly thing … taking up space.

  17. We're lucky enough to rent a house that has a pretty awesome kitchen and the microwave is built into the wall unit with the oven. The stove top is it's own separate entity. I honestly wouldn't want to NOT have a microwave. I use it to warm up coffee, quick melt butter for recipes, steam corn tortillas for tacos, etc… I mean, they don't have to be a horrible invention that people only use to warm up their Lean Cuisines in.

  18. I actually use the microwave for cooking vegetables more than any other use. Microwaving vegetables in the dish I will eat them from makes for less dishes than cooking them in a pot on the stove then putting them into another dish.

  19. I've been Microwave free for 7 months now. My husband and I don't miss it. We barely used the one we had.
    It makes us eat better since we can't buy microwave anything. We have small convection oven/toaster we use if we need something heated up.
    Our family thought we were crazy when we ditched it. "How do you reheat coffee, defrost meat, etc."
    Sure it takes a little extra effort when making meals, but it's worth it.

  20. There might be a riot in my house if we got rid of the microwave. Not because we use it to cook unhealthy in (mostly for popcorn and warming water for baby bottles) but because my husband has what I call "a dish problem" where he uses a new dish/glass/utensil/pan for every single thing he eats or drinks. Our sink is always overflowing and without a microwave it would guarantee that my dirty dish pile would increase. I work nights twice a week while he is on baby duty and usually just warms up leftovers for himself with minimal mess. I don't know who would be more frustrated without a microwave, me or him…

  21. Haha, I actually find it funny that you consider someone without a microwave to be 'together'. You obviously haven't been microwave-free long enough – there's TONS of lazy junk food you can make without a microwave. I've been microwave-free (out of necessity) for a few years…Instant mash potatoes, heat n serve instant curries (yes they say to microwave them, but they take 2 minutes on the stove), endless grilled cheese sandwiches, ice cream, nachos (cheese melts under the grill..) lunchables… Also, you reheat your leftover pizza? Now that's someone who has their shit together!

  22. Funny. Pretty much the only thing I use my microwave for is steaming vegetables or melting butter to use in baked dishes. Guess there's always gotta be that one person!

  23. When my fiance and I moved out of the shared house we were in and into our own apartment we didn't have a microwave…and that freaked us out. At first. And then we realized it's really not so bad…we lived microwave-free for about 8 months until we acquired one from my parents and we use it MAYBE once a week. He uses it to reheat leftovers (I'm too lazy for that, I eat 'em cold, hah). I'd be willing to go microwave-free again for the counter space but while we have one I guess I'm indifferent.

  24. I've actually never had a microwave. My family never owned one when I was growing up. Everything was done on the stove, in the oven or in the toaster oven. Only when I moved out did my mom buy a cheap microwave…but it was apparently to bake potatoes in…and she actually never uses it. She put it in the basement when she bought it so it wouldn't be on the counter (because let's face it, microwaves are unsightly), so it just sits in the basement collecting dust.

    My husband grew up with a microwave and loves microwaves. But when we bought our condo, our kitchen counter space was limited and we just didn't have the budget for a microwave. Lo and behold my husband has lived without a microwave for the past 4+ years and rarely complains. Every once and a while he'll complain he wants to eat microwave popcorn, but that's it.

    Boiling water in a kettle takes as much time as doing it in the microwave, air-popped popcorn tastes better and is better for you, and anything needing to be reheated food-wise tastes better coming from an oven or stovetop.

    A friend actually told me about an experiment involving microwaved water: http://www.eutimes.net/2011/03/experiment-microwaved-water-kills-plants/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+TheEuropeanUnionTimes+%28The+European+Union+Times%29

    I've lived 26 years without a microwave in my house (excluding work), I'm pretty sure I'll be fine if I never own one.

  25. We just returned from a long weekend at a friend's house where there was no microwave. Two things jumped out from that experience: 1) My wife has grown physically dependent on pumped froth milk for her coffees (bodum makes the pump, and it is amazing). Heating the milk on the stove top in a double boiler type fashion just didn't quite do the trick like the microwave. 2) Heating water for baby bottles. Our baby is ten months old and in that awkward cant-get-enough-from-the-source phase of breastfeeding so we've been supplementing her with a formula bottle when all else is exhausted. Heating the water in the microwave takes 25 seconds. The stove takes much much longer. Not cool when you've got a tired baby on your hands. I'm a stay-at-home dad, so heating water either for formula or as a place to warm bottles of breast milk has to happen fast.

    I grew up without a microwave (my mom thought it took up too much counter space also), and it is really just those two instances when we actually use one. But they have become quite mission critical around here. I'd love to get that space back though. Maybe when the we're done with babies and I make enough money to buy a real cafe-style steamed milk frother we'll ditch it.

  26. My husband uses our microwave almost every day because even though we cook meals pretty much every day on the stove or in the oven, once the meal is on his plate, he microwaves it because he likes his food to be ridiculously hot, plus any cheese in the meal must be thoroughly melted. I don't understand it all.

  27. Wait, is that Alaska Robotics art in your kitchen!!?? I have the same bear in the snow! Also the one rawring (lol) at night, and the autumish one. I got mine at their shop in Juneau! I love Alaska Robotics SO MUCH. Also, great tips. We have a tiny microwave and almost never use it. Maybe it's time to get it out of my kitchen!

  28. THIS x one million! I haven't owned a microwave since about 2005ish I think? And it gave my boyfriend and I something very hilarious to laugh at when we started dating because he doesn't own one either, so when we moved in together there was no argument over that. I love it! And you are so right, food tastes way better sans microwave.

  29. About 3 years ago, our microwave died – and before we got around to replacing it, we noticed that we REALLY liked the extra counterspace. We still intended to get around to buying a toaster oven (smaller), but haven't yet – and like I say – it's been years. It has forced us to eat a little better, think about our meals a little before-hand, etc, etc. It's good for us. The only thing we miss it for is heating-up leftovers, but we usually take those to work for lunches, where there are microwaves anyway – so yay!

  30. Yes to all of these things!

    I caught our microwave on fire a few years ago, and we just never replaced it. We never really missed it until recently, though. Our season of life is more busy than it was before, and sometimes it would be nice to defrost something super quick in the nuke box, but we make it work. We have really enjoyed having the extra counter space, and it really makes us eat more fresh and less packaged foods because it's just not an option to have a TV dinner.

    It's definitely not a choice for every house, but it's been a good one for us!

  31. We also went microwaveless a few years ago, and honestly never looked back. I don't miss it at all, though my friends and colleagues think I am totally nuts.

  32. My aunt wouldn't allow a microwave in her kitchen for years–when one of my cousins came home from college with a microwave, he had to keep it in his bedroom! But she eventually caved when my grandpa moved in with them, because he was a big fan of TV dinners, and could make them himself if there was a microwave.

    I thought the other day about how nice it would be to free up some counter space in our tiny kitchen, but when I do need a microwave, I don't often have any other solution for what I'm using it for. How on earth am I supposed to nuke a lemon to get more juice out of it with no microwave? πŸ™‚

  33. We haven't used our microwave in about 3 years. It sits on top of the high cabinets for emergencies. I love not using a microwave. Congrats on your decision!

  34. I think I'd be fine without a microwave, but I don't see a problem with having one.

    I use it for:
    –melting butter or chocolate for baking
    –heating leftovers from yesterday's dinner for lunch

  35. Congrats on having your shit way more together than I have mine! :p

    I've lived microwave-free before, and there were certainly nice things about it β€” food does taste a lot better when it hasn't suffered the indignity of being microwaved, and microwaves are big and ugly (although ours does not live in our kitchen at this point…). Now I have a microwave, and there are a number of reasons I like it β€” but I'm glad I've also lived microwave-free, so that I know what things are just way better done in the toaster oven, or on the stove-top.

    Things I use my microwave for most:
    -Reheating leftovers (esp. pasta & rice) with fewer dirty dishes & no stuck-on nastiness. I never did really get the hang of reheating macaroni with cheese sauce on the stove-top without it getting really stuck on…
    -Partially cooking potatoes before doing something stove-top or oven-based with them β€” they take SO much less time, and my shit is anything but together most of the time.
    -Thawing frozen ingredients / foods, because I didn't think of it early enough to just leave them out β€” mostly this is stuff I or my husband made in advance and froze (e.g. bagels), or veggies saved from the summer, since my brother has a farm.

    Things I will not use a microwave for:
    -Heating bread beyond room temperature (thawing it so that I can slice & toast it is OK, though…)
    -Reheating pizza
    -Cooking basically anything

    • In my microwave-less kitchen, we thaw everything in plastic bags and rounds of hot water. We too are forgetful and I never remember to put things in the fridge to thaw all day. Its safe and effective!

  36. Huh, now this has got me thinking about what we actually do with our microwave…but it isn't very much. I may have to stash ours for a week or two to see how we do without it.

    And the cheese comment is VERY true. When my family bought our first microwave in 1991, all I used it for was melting cheese. I was five then…and I still like microwave melted cheese, although oven nachos taste much better.

  37. When I moved in with my partner, neither of us had a microwave, so we just decided to do without. We've had no problems these 7 months without one, and have no plans to get one. The only thing that is sometimes difficult is that we have to get creative when reheating leftovers. Pasta is a particularly confusing one. Hah.

    • I reheat pasta in my toaster oven by putting it into a soup crock (that is oven safe). It's great, because you can add cheese right on top to get melty and gooey. However, this method takes about 20 minutes in the over to reheat it.

    • I also reheat pasta in the toaster oven! You could also put it in a small pot on the stove and add some olive oil, and sort-of "steam" it back to life with a lid on top. I do that regularly with restaurant left-overs that are cream based, and I add milk. Makes the sauce creamier and comes back to life without over doing it!

    • If the pasta is naked (unsauced) you can put it in a ziploc bag and then add piping hot water to reheat it.

  38. When I bought my husband an espresso machine the microwave got moved to the basement. I use it once or twice a week. It's nice to still have access to it, but the espresso maker is used every day. πŸ™‚

  39. Ours is built in to the range hood and has a one button "beverage" setting, which is great for reheating coffee on the mornings I totally forget to make a fresh pot (don't judge me, I am both extremely lazy and incredibly busy). Other than that (few times weekly) reason, I can think of exactly twice in the last six months I've used it- once to melt butter and once to microwave a frozen dinner.

    That being said, about a year ago, our oven just stopped working. Would not work at all- it was a computer issue. We had technicians out a half dozen times, spent hours on the phone with the company and ordered several (expensive) rounds of replacement parts. It never did work again. We didn't really mind, the stovetop still worked and we had a little toaster oven. And then one day, my husband heard a terribly clicking noise, and went to investigate and the oven's gas line blew up in his face (he was thankfully okay). A week before Christmas. Our homeowner's insurance was willing to replace it, but it took more than a month of waiting due to the holidays/other bureaucratic delays before we even got the check and then another two weeks for the oven to arrive. We we pretty thankful for the microwave then.

    Of course that's all about at home. I freely admit that I use one daily at work. Financially it makes more sense to pack leftovers than food that doesn't need to be reheated like sandwiches or salads. I used to use a little convection oven every day, but my current classroom/schedule doesn't really allow for that.

  40. Won't somebody please think of the microwave? You just abandoned the poor thing. Doesn't anybody feel sorry for it? It's probably huddled up somewhere, in the cold, crying little tears of radiation to try to warm itself up.

  41. I lived microwave free a few times out of necessity. I hated it. Not because I couldn't cook, as I can do quite well without, but that I was working like 2 jobs and taking classes, etc. It was a pain. Not only that, but I LOVE microwaved popcorn. Not a fan of "Regular" popcorn, either. It is sad, since basically I am admitting to loving the taste of weird chemicals, but meh

  42. Best of all worlds: We have a microwave from a garage sale ($5! Clean! Works!) that fits in a large, multipurpose cabinet. We only plug it in – via extension cord to the only grounded outlet in the kitchen – when we need it, maybe 1-2 times per week. It doesn't clutter my precious, precious counter space, it doesn't suck energy, and when I close the cabinet, no one can see it.

    • Brilliant! Mine sits on a butcher block from IKEA. But if I had the cabinet space, I would so do this.

  43. I feel like this post has sparked an informal survey of "Do you reheat your coffee?"
    Never before did I realize people actually did this (regularly). My husband has always refused re-heated coffee, and I never drank coffee at all before I met him. Then once we got our first apartment, his mother gave us a coffee maker with a thermal carafe. Our coffee stays hot for about 8 hours. But after 8 hours, do you really want to drink it still?
    And doesn't the microwave change the flavor of the coffee?
    I'm not judging, but this revelation is surprising to me. I'd like to know what y'all think.

    • My parents reheat their coffee in the microwave. My mom is notorious for forgetting about it, so when you go to use the microwave, there is always a mug in there!

      When I do reheat my coffee, I do it for under 30 seconds. This seems to make it warm but doesn't change the flavor too much. Re-heating for longer so it is hot makes it gross. Normally I rinse out my mug with boiling water BEFORE I pour the coffee so it stays warm longer and I don't have to reheat it!

      And I think that by the time the coffee has been on a carafe for more than 1.5 hours it tastes burnt.

    • I'm still trying to get my head round the whole 'heating up water' thing.

      Are kettles really so rare outside the UK? I'm so confused. πŸ™‚

    • I will only drink reheated coffee if it's from the same day. My grandmother grew up in the Depression so she was fanatical about not wasting anything. She would drink on a pot of coffee for days. I can't do it… I am a little bit of a coffee particularist and it tastes too weird. I need muh fresh-brewed!!!!

      Also, if you leave it on the burner it gets… well, burned. I like to pour it into a ceramic pitcher with a lid so it stays somewhat warm but doesn't burn.

      All my coworkers reheat coffee from days before, though, so apparently I am the odd one out.

  44. Still have a microwave, and only use it for my heat pads and reheating leftovers. Up until recently it was used for popcorn, but I've managed to convince the hubby that stove popped popcorn is brilliant compared to the microwave bag stuff. And soooo much cheaper too!

  45. Our microwave sits on the freezer and gets used maybe once a week. I like to use it

    a) if I forgot to defrost berries and want to have oats/berries/yogurt in the morning or

    b) if I want to make scrambled egg in a mug for breakfast (less egg smell in my office clothes).

    Occasionally we also use it to heat leftover meals or herb tea, but usually we do just fine without. Still don't think I'd get rid of it, but our kitchen is large enough to have a microwave oven AND counter space. ^^

  46. I didn't grow up with a microwave and have really only ever had one by chance, it if there was one already in a house share I moved in to. As an ex chef and happy cooker from scratch, for me microwaves can sometimes cook faster but not better. I really dislike the texture they give to anything baked.

    It is however absolutely possible to re-heat liquid things on the stove top as fast as a microwave and without drying out, it really doesn't need to be slower but you will need to adjust your pan and keep stirring! It's about keeping the pan small, in a professional kitchen as well as the pans used to cook things in the first place they will have lots of individual portion sized thin-based frying pans and tiny high sided saucepans for speedy but not dry reheating. Even things cooked to order are often in fact cooked to a certain point in bulk earlier in the day and then quickly finished to order.

    I live in a large UK city with a large Indian/Pakistani/Middle Eastern population and am lucky enough to have access to middle eastern food shops which often sell these very cheaply: http://en.academic.ru/pictures/enwiki/67/Coffee_pot_12.jpg
    They are sold for making individual servings of thick Arabic coffee but they are great for very quick heating/warming individual portions of baby food and also to reheat a single cup of coffee. The thin bottom means they heat quickly but the high sides minimise evaporation and drying out. They are also often very beautiful!

    With regards to the freezer thing, what microwaves offer is not having to make a decision about what to eat until mere minutes before you want to eat it. However if you can bare to take that decision in the morning before you got to work/begin your day then you can grab whatever it is out of the freezer and leave it defrosting in the fridge during the day. Its then much much quicker to warm it through in a pan on top of the stove. I have frequently also chucked a solid block of something in a pan with a little extra water and just stirred it aggressively over a high heat, breaking it up as soon as its soft enough to do so and giving it a good blast of heat as soon as its liquid. Not poisoned myself/anyone yet…

  47. i ditched my microwave about two years ago and never regretted it. any heating or melting that i need to do can be done with my stove or oven, and the taste is much much better. there are a few times when i miss having one, though. mainly when i want a frozen burrito, a baked potato or popcorn.

  48. I appolgize for not reading all the comments and if this has been added already then just ignore me…

    My grandma was anti-microwave but couldnt justify getting rid of it because she used it for defrosting bread and other things that she froze (one person household so it was the only option to keep things from molding). What she did was put her microwave in the pantry to keep it out of sight and out of mind. They are such ugly appliances!

    I do have to say though, once she remodeled her kitchen and bought one of those microwaves that double as a hood over the stove, she started using it more and she actually gained a ton of weight. I know it's not all from the new access to the microwave but it did help her devlop a habbit of eating more convience foods.

  49. YES! We haven't had one for about…2 years I think. Our last tiny one died and we just didn't replace it. I would agree with everything in this post. The ONLY thing I miss it for now is melting butter.

    HOWEVER. We DO have a lovely convection toaster oven, that we use daily. I introduced our roommate to it, and she loves it now too. She never saw the use for one before, but we seriously do everything in it. I even figured out how to melt or soften butter in it for when I bake. Small pyrex glass bowls! Perfect!

  50. My parents don't have a microwave, and I didn't have one until I moved in with my husband. I use it for occasionally heating up leftovers and making microwave popcorn once in a blue moon. I could care less if we had one or not. I think mostly my husband uses it for when the butter is too cold to be spreadable. But if we didn't have one we'd have an empty spot in the cupboard since there is a microwave shelf built in.

  51. I've been without a microwave at home for 8 months now (roomie took it with him when he moved). At first I was going to get one, but after not getting around to it for a couple weeks I realized how little I used it. I heat up leftovers in a cast iron skillet in the oven By the way, cast iron skillets are THE SHIT. The only thing I have ever really needed a microwave for is heating up the dehumidifier pack for my hearing aids- I ended up using the microwave at work.

    ALSO!!!!! You can pre-cook potatoes without a microwave by boiling them. I've been using that method for years and never even thought about using a microwave…

    Trying to heat up water is the only real annoyance I feel about it – you gotta break out a pot and wash it if you wanna reheat coffee or something. But it hasn't been annoying enough to make me go buy a microwave.

  52. Try cooking for 8 people every day without one. I spend enough time in the kitchen as it is, NOT getting rid of mine. No, it isn't used for warming tea and frozen foods – i use it for steaming veggies, cooking pasta etc, whilst keeping the stove clear for other things. I also have a super hot kitchen so I avoid too many burners going at the same time (I am one of those rare people that cooks a vegetarian meal from scrath almost every day).

  53. Uhh so literally a day after I read this I'm thinking "I like the convenience of my microwave, and it's sitting on top of the fridge so it's not taking up counter space" etc when suddenly I'm heating up butter and BAM. Sparks everywhere. My microwave is dead.

    How did Offbeat Home know….

  54. I can't imagine getting rid of my microwave. Simply for baking alone, I use it for melting butter, softening cream cheese. I'm not going to melt things on the stove or wait hours for something to soften at room temperature. The microwave for me is really more of a tool as opposed to something I cook in. I don't like prepackaged foods so its definitely not something I use for quick meals.

  55. We have a microwave, but it can go for days without use. Mainly we steam veggies, heat up leftovers and make rice with a microwave rice cooker (no worries about it sticking to pot, and with my fancy pants microwave that my mom got me for christmas one year–about 6 months after going micro-free because we "let the magic smoke out" of the old one–i can program it to do different powers for different amounts of time automatically). All things i know i can do on the stove or in the oven, but its just plain easier and quicker and more energy efficient to do in the microwave. I also have a buckwheat hull heating pad that i love that gets tossed in every once in a while, but if we decide to go micro-free in the future, i'll just invest in a hot water bottle.

  56. Heating up leftovers, melting butter for baking and melting wax for making my own face cream & lip balm would be SUCH a rigmarole without a microwave!

    I don't *cook* food in it; the thought of eating that kind of stuff all the time makes me a little queasy!

  57. I love this article. People look at us crazy when we say we don't have a microwave, but we just reply that we've found we don't really need it. And it's true! Out of concerns for counter space several years ago, we opted for a toaster oven instead and have never looked back. The small size allows us to quickly reheat things like pizza and pasta (and w/o the pizza crust ending up soggy – joy!), and we can still make excellent toast πŸ™‚ Everything else is covered by the oven or stove top. It's amazing what people "need" these days.

  58. I've been wanting to do this for a while. I don't eat much processed food, so that's not what I'm using it for. But I do use it to reheat leftovers, and cook things like Sweet Potatoes and Spaghetti Squash in a pinch. As you say though, if you are better prepared you won't need to seek out that convenience in the first place. Maybe this will be my new thing to do in 2014!

  59. Our microwave broke one day a few years ago and we decided to see how long we could go without replacing it (we never used it much anyway – heating up leftovers mostly).

    Well, it's been at least 3 or 4 years and we've been totally fine without it! The only thing we can't do without a microwave is make popcorn (I don't like it enough to figure out how to do it on the stove), and I can't make those heated rice bag things. I have gel-based heating pads that can be put in just-boiled water to get hot, have figured out how to re-heat leftovers on the stove and in the oven, roast my garlic in the toaster oven (I used to douse it in olive oil and get it nice and roasty in the microwave) etc.. I have a whole Japanese tea room (I'm NOT KIDDING, tatami, floor table, bamboo tea tray and everything, but I live in Taiwan so that's an easy thing to do) so we keep our electric kettle in there.

    Most leftovers heat up better – pasta gets a bit limp on the stove but it gets dry and weird at the edges in the microwave so that's a fair trade-off. Pizza definitely heats up better in the oven or the toaster oven.

    There is one issue I've had with not having a microwave. Some things I like to heat up don't heat up quite as well in the oven or on the stove – I make amazing Armenian bulgur-lamb stuffed bell peppers and tomatoes (seasoned with dried mint, fresh parsley, tomato paste, allspice, cumin, aleppo pepper, black pepper, salt of course, olive oil, garlic, onion) and they get a bit burned reheated in the oven. The pepper skin blackens while the inside stays cold. And they don't take well to the stove, even with the burner on low. They would be ideally reheated in a microwave. Oh well.

  60. I use mine to reheat rice, left overs and porridge and wheat bags my partner uses it it heat milk for her coffee we mostly don't eat conveniance food I can't see anything wrong using it. its more how you use it is the problem would never heat pizza in a microwave yuck

  61. We haven't had one in our house for about 7 or 8 years. At one point, I looked at it & realized that I only used it for the "timer" feature, and just donated it on freecycle & got a couple of extra timers.
    In the time since, I have had SO many people attempt to buy me a new one, as if I am missing something- it is kind of funny πŸ™‚ (But I love the credit that I keep getting at kitchen stores!) Many of my friends & family assume that ours broke & we are in dire need of a new one. Like, they can't get it through their head. (at least me fellow healthy hippies get it!)

  62. Hubs & I haven't had a microwave since we moved nearly 5 years ago. We don't have a toaster either. The cooker gets used for nearly everything (we do have a kettle). I am refitting our kitchen next week with the help of my super-Dad & we will have to remove the cooker. H & I have discussed getting a microwave so we could have quick hot food during that cooker-less time…and we've decided that we really don't want one so we're (well, I'm…) being ΓΌber organised & cooking hams, chicken & pies so we don't starve. If we want something hot there's a takeaway not too far away!

  63. Yes! Several moves ago my husband and I gave away our microwave and coffee maker for the same reason: as long as one or the other of us is in grad school and living in campus housing/tiny apartments, the counter space is WAY more valuable. Clearly I need to make room for an electric kettle though!

  64. As an adult I decided to dump the micro and the television. I have never bought a tv (gifted, yes *wink wink*) and I chose in the last few years to let go of micro cooking. I don't miss it EXCEPT when I want to make Stouffers spinach soufflΓ©…I cook real food at home and save the Kashi frozen dinners for my lunch break at work. Do it! Save a plastic tree while you are it.

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