I abandoned the microwave and haven’t looked back

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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.

Comments on I abandoned the microwave and haven’t looked back

  1. 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.

  2. 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).

  3. 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….

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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!

  7. 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 🙂 Everything else is covered by the oven or stove top. It’s amazing what people “need” these days.

  8. 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!

  9. 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.

  10. 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

  11. 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 🙂 (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!)

  12. 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 über organised & cooking hams, chicken & pies so we don’t starve. If we want something hot there’s a takeaway not too far away!

  13. 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!

  14. 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 soufflé…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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